Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Heaven Hill. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
A year ago, I reviewed Larceny Barrel Proof Batch B521 – which, for those wondering, stands for the second (B) batch of the year, released in May (month 5) of 2021. Far more important than the batch naming system (which presumably confuses as many people as it enlightens) is the fact that the whiskey inside was pretty darn good.
I called a friend who had a bottle of the A121 batch, and we sat outside on a warm, summer evening and poured the two side by side along with some of the flagship yellow-label Larceny Small Batch. We were looking for a signature taste profile from Heaven Hill Distillery, which makes Larceny, as well as distinctiveness unique to each.
Ultimately, I wrote that the then-new Larceny release was “an affordable bourbon that manages to be sophisticated enough for collectors and serious drinkers… smoother and more ‘wheat-like’ than the A121 and significantly more than the Small Batch – despite its higher alcohol content.” I gave it 4 stars out of 5.
So I was plenty happy recently to drop by The Whiskey Wash for a bottle of this May’s release, the Larceny Barrel Proof Batch B522. I immediately headed out for a long houseboat weekend with a group of friends, including the same whiskey collector I tasted the Larceny with last year, and we opened the new bottle alongside the May 2021 release while we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the lake scenery.
It’s made from the same mash bill as last year’s version, and bottled with a slightly higher alcohol content. It’s also 20% more expensive than last year’s release, reflecting a broader trend toward pricier whiskies industrywide.
Tasting Notes: Larceny Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch B522)
Vital stats: Mash bill of 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley; Batch B522; 123.8 proof/61.9% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $60 for a 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: I described the May 2021 release as “the color of gingerbread,” and I’ll stand by that description a year later.
Nose: Banana bread, cinnamon twists, and vanilla extract. At 123.8 proof, it’s not surprising that a splash of water helps this whiskey open up. With or without water, though, the 2022 version is a bit mellower and sweeter than the 2021.
Palate: Gingersnap spice comes first, which is similar to what I experienced with last year’s release. Think nutmeg and cinnamon. The second wave of flavor is deeper, darker, and richer. Pipe tobacco, prunes, leather, and maple syrup. Finally, it settles in for a relatively long finish with hazelnut notes.
In fairness, May to May comparisons aren’t the only ones we could have made. There were September and January releases in between. But the May 2021 and May 2022 releases make for a natural A/B test in any case, and gave me a baseline to check the new pour against. The bottom line is that I like it; it’s very good bourbon. I liked the 2021 slightly more, and I really liked the $49.99 MSRP a year ago better.
But even at $60, Batch B522 warrants consideration to add to your home bar. The barrel-proof release is intense enough for those of us who like a whiskey with a kick, but subtle enough that it won’t drive away everyone else. Add a splash of water, and this bourbon is something you could pour for anyone on any occasion.
User Review4.25 (4 votes)
Scott Bernard Nelson
Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. Scott works in higher education these days, but he previously spent 22 years as a journalist, covering 9/11 in Manhattan, crossing into Iraq with U.S. Marines and contributing to The Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of sexual...