Taste Test: Larceny’s Wheated Bourbon Is One of the Most Underrated Whiskeys on the Market

·3 min read

Pappy Van Winkle! Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s focus on another wheated bourbon that is arguably better than Pappy, and kind of under-recognized in the whiskey world: Larceny Barrel Proof.

Larceny is a wheated bourbon made by Heaven Hill, the distillery known for brands like Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Rittenhouse Rye and Parker’s Heritage Collection. The mash bill for the barrel-proof version is the same as for regular Larceny (also a very good bourbon, by the way)—68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat and 12 percent malted barley. And that second item is what makes this a wheated bourbon, with that grain swapped out for the more commonly used rye as a flavoring component. Generally speaking, wheat brings a softer sweetness to the whiskey as opposed to the peppery spice of rye. Think Maker’s Mark versus Four Roses, for example, the latter having a sweeter palate with more notes of things like brown sugar and honey. The Larceny mash bill is known at Heaven Hill as “O.F.D.” for Old Fitzgerald Distillery, and the Old Fitzgerald brand now owned by Heaven Hill is made from the same mash bill as Larceny, and to continue the thread Mr. Pappy Van Winkle himself once owned the Old Fitzgerald name. As in so much of the whiskey world, there are crisscrossing through-lines linking many facets of the industry

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Larceny Barrel Proof, which launched in 2020, is released three times per year. The newest batch is called C922—meaning the third batch released in September of 2022. The whiskey is generally aged between six and eight years, a sweet spot for bourbon maturation, and the proof usually hovers somewhere above 120. C922 was bottled at 126.6 proof, the highest of the three released this year—in fact, this appears to be the highest proof in this whiskey’s three-year existence. The liquid is a deep rusty reddish orange color. There is some candied apple and citrus on the nose. This is followed up with sweet vanilla, a bit of tart cranberry and sweet grain on the palate. There’s very little spice, a hint of butterscotch, and the finish has a touch of tannic dryness. It’s an excellent bourbon, and if it’s too hot for your taste a splash water will soften things up.

Larceny Barrel Proof is priced at $60, and while you’ll likely pay more than that it’s not going to come anywhere near the level of Pappy or other bourbons with that reputation. Really, the only reason to bring Pappy into the conversation here is that both are wheated bourbons, but one has achieved cult status (and is aged for a lot longer, which is not an indicator of quality) while the other is still quietly pleasing bourbon fans in the know. Consider yourself officially in the know now, because this barrel-proof bourbon should not be ignored.

Score: 96


Buy Now: $115

What Our Score Means

  • 100: Worth trading your first born for 

  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet 

  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram 

  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market 

  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable 

  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this 

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

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