Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Barrel Proof (Batch A120)

Nose: This has a deep, rich, classic bourbon smell but you can tell at first sip that this is high proof, from the “high proof nose tingle". The caramel and vanilla seem to be at the forefront of the notes you pick up on this one. Palate: Wow! Yes, the first sip packs the usual expected-but-still-not-prepared-for punch, but it also immediately imparted a very deep, rich sweetness that you can tell is there below the heat, waiting to be savored once your mouth gets used to the heat. I wanted to take a second sip almost immediately, but I held off for a few minutes, A.) to let my mouth recover and “get ready” and 2.) to let it breathe some more. This is a newly opened bottle that hasn’t seen any air yet. After a few minutes, that second sip did not disappoint. This has a really nice mouthfeel and the second sip is just delightfully sweet at just the right level. It has a LOT going on, flavor wise, but the balance is spot on, so it is actually difficult to pick out the individual characteristics that make up the flavor profile. I feel like there are bits of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, cherries, molasses, maybe a little marshmallow and probably a host of other sweet flavors (like maybe maple?). I picked up no rye spiciness, but that’s not surprising because this is a wheated bourbon. Even with the high proof, the finish on this is only on the border between moderate and long. In later sips, the heat is confined to the tail end of the finish and it was toned down considerably from the first sip. Don’t get me wrong, it is still there, but you feel it more as an intense warmth, vice being harsh or burning. Comments: This bad boy clocks in at 123.2 proof! Zowwy! BUT….it really doesn’t seem that high. Larceny was started a few years ago (2012), supposedly as a replacement for the venerable (and cheaper) Old Fitzgerald. It still gives a nod to its heritage because it is technically called John E. Fitzgerald Larceny. The story goes that Fitzgerald was a treasury agent who, at the time, was the only person legally allowed to carry keys to the rickhouses. He supposedly would take advantage of his keys and go into the rick houses to sample from the best barrels. The label tells this story and also indicates that this is a blend of 6 and 8 year old bourbon that is uncut and un-chill filtered. It doesn’t say it on the label, but the mashbill is reported to be 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. Oh…and, this is made in BARDSTOWN! I LIKE THIS! In fact, I like this so much that I think it might move into my (granted, somewhat undefined) Top Five. I just love the well-balanced sweetness. It is very inviting. I almost didn’t want to do it, but I decided for the sake of others, I should add a few drops of water to this. SO…..I put about 7 drops into it when I was just about 1/2 through the glass. It didn’t change the nose much, except it toned down the “nose tingle” a bit. As for taste, this might be a bit difficult to describe. It toned down the heat a little bit, but it is still there at the end of the finish. If anything, the water brought out the “darker” flavors….so more dark chocolate, some molasses, and some burnt brown sugar. Oddly, it didn’t seem quite as sweet with the water. Also, rather oddly, it also seemed to make the finish longer. It was still very good, but I think given the choice, I would drink this without the water. BOTTOM LINE: Total Wine’s price on this was $52…..but your chances of getting it there without having an RV to camp out in the parking lot were probably very slim. I paid a slight premium at a liquor store and got it for $75. My recommendation is, if you see this, BUY IT! If you try it and don’t like it, I will buy the remainder of the bottle from you (provided you didn’t pay $700 for it!). At $75, I feel this was a good deal for a special bottle that you might want to drink every day, but which you will save for special occasions or special guests. If you could find it for $52, I would buy a case (or two!) of it. The “good news” is, Heaven Hill, who puts this out, releases this bourbon 3 times a year….in January, May and September…so…..keep an eye out at those times. There is a code on the bottle to know when it was released. The first letter (in this case, “A”) indicates which of that year’s releases the bottle was part of. The 2nd digit tells you the month it was released and the 3rd and 4th digits indicate the year. SO…..even though I got this in June, at A120, this bottle was actually part of the January 2020 release (not May)… it was sitting there for a while…..indicating, there is still hope in picking up a bottle somewhere. This is the reason I stop in small liquor stores all over the place because you never know when you might find something like this still sitting on the shelf. The website doesn’t say it outright, but it sort of implies that the January release is the only which has taken place so far this year, so there may NOT have been a May release, due to the virus. [NOTE: A while after writing this, I saw this in PA State Store inventory and drove to PA to get some. It was priced at the MSRP, so I bought several bottles. Years from now, I will still be enjoying this. Life is good!]