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Larceny Bourbon Barrel Proof, Batch A121, 57.48% ABV

 

Be my Valentine.

Nose: A whole Sturgis rally of leather followed by intense and intensely pleasing surges of creme brûlée, burning oak, and ashen embers. It’s like breathing in the smoke of a winter campfire while sharing dessert with Darth Vader. Much like the illustrious Highland Park Cask Strength, there’s only a faint whiff of ethanol here - the flavors do the talking. I have no idea what the average barrel age is in A121 versus B520 (the same language of “a blend of 6 to 8 year old barrels” remains on the label), but this batch smells older, more oaken, and more refined. It also, like B520, wholly discards the typical wheater profile in favor of bolder ambitions.

Palate: It’s Old Fitzgerald barrel proof. I mean, it’s the only way to phrase it. The maniacs at Heaven Hill have found a way to channel their legacy brand unicorn into a laser-refined, barrel proof 2.0 version. And friends, it’s the ducks guts. A cavalcade of dark mocha, brown sugar, and chocolate covered cherry cordials screams onto your palate before slowly ceding ground to cinnamon and clove. As you swallow, an ancient and smoky oak just begins to creep into view.

Finish: The smoked oak flavor continues, rejoined by the clove and mocha, before a pleasingly bittersweet heat settles into your mouth and chest. I struggled to find the right comparison for a long time when it hit me: Turkish coffee. It’s an insanely welcome and mature finish that turns this from dessert bourbon into a truly elevated and special bottle.

Summary: It might say Larceny A121 on the label, but this is Old Fitzgerald. I’ve had Old Fitz, and this is a dead ringer for Old Fitz, but you know, better. Augmented. Evolved. Unrestrained. It’s not the smokeshow B520 was, but what firepower it traded in it gained back 7-fold in flavor and nuance. Heaven Hill was open with the fact they were willing to try various ideas in the first few Larceny Barrel Proof batches in an effort to find the bullseye, and they’ve dialed it in, friends. And all they’ve done is merely produce one of the best wheated bourbons of all time. It’s certainly my favorite.

 

Image courtesy of Jon who also writes on Low Class & High Proof.

 

Low Class & High Proof

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