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Today I am reviewing the Larceny Barrel Proof C922, the third release of last year for this offering. Larceny Barrel Proof is distilled by Heaven Hill, and is released three times every year – January, May, and September. The naming convention for each release is simple – first release is A, second is B, third is C and the first number after the letter is the month of the release and the last two are the years.
Larceny Barrel Proof is a wheated bourbon (more on that later), and is non-chill filtered, and as the name implies, bottled at full barrel proof. The mash bill is identical to Old Fitzgerald bourbons, and if you look at above the name on the bottle, you can see John E. Fitzgerald’s name, which further ties in with the Old Fitzgerald line of highly sought after releases.
Bourbon by law has to be at least 51% corn, but the rest of the mash bill can be quite influential and varied. Wheated bourbons replace the rye with wheat. Rye in a bourbon mash bill introduces a spicy, bold flavor. Wheated bourbons, on the other hand, are milder as the rye is replaced. Most people find wheated bourbons to be sweeter, and that is because wheat being milder, let’s the sweetness of the corn come through.
So who is this famous Mr. Fitzgerald? Some sources list him as a distiller, but according to Sally Van Winkle Campbell (granddaughter of Pappy Van Winkle), in her book “But Always Fine Bourbon: Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald”, Fitzgerald was a bonded U.S. Treasury Agent. Those agents had access to the rickhouses where the barrels were stored and aged, as part of their job. Using his keys, he was able to sneak in to rickhouses and taste many of the barrels. He would even take jugs of the best ones home. Turns out John E. Fitzgerald, apart from being a sly agent, also had a great palate. When the time came for dumping the barrels, some were found to be much lighter than they should be. They also happened to be excellent barrels. These barrels came to be known as “Fitzgerald Barrels”.
Larceny Barrel Proof bourbon was first released in 2020 – at least in my circles it was not initially very widely talked about, probably because of some recent releases of exceptional barrel proof bourbons such as Stagg Jr. Batch 12 and Elijah Craig B520, to name a few. However, at the end of 2020, it won the Whisky Advocate’s Whisky of the Year award and just as quickly, it became a rare item to find, though not quite as hard to find as its sibling label with the same mash bill, Old Fitzgerald.
So I am guessing the name Larceny is a nod to Fitzgerald’s pursuits? Makes sense. Larceny Barrel Proof bourbon batch C922, apart from being the highest proof release yet, was also a top 100 finalist and placed 17th in Fred Minnick’s Top 100 American Whiskies of 2022.
Tasting Notes: Larceny Barrel Proof C922
Vital Stats: 126.6 proof, 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat and 12 percent malted barley mash bill, 6-8 year barrels (according to Heaven Hill distillery), $60
Appearance: Dark Sepia
Nose: Nutty, some peanuts, some ethanol, and stale bread
Palate: Sweet (but not over the top), dry oak, graham cracker, honey, cinnamon. Almost like a Christmas spice infused raisin bread
Whiskey Review: Larceny Barrel Proof C922
This is a very well done bourbon and one of the finer examples of wheated bourbon. And it is barrel proof and non-chill filtered. I think this might be the best release of the year. It is complex, sweet but not over the top, and very balanced. Even though it is the highest proof release yet, it still drinks smooth and has a medium to long finish. This is a good bourbon to sit down with and enjoy for a while. While both previous Larceny Barrel Proof releases of 2022 were good, they were a bit one dimensional. This release is a beautifully balanced one.