Since its debut at the beginning of 2020, I have often gone back and forth on my impression of Heaven Hill’s Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon series. When the series first began, the first few batches didn’t really grab my imagination—although I loved the idea of a cask strength wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill, offering some of the same high value in the segment as the celebrated Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, the early batches struck me as too youthful or astringent to hold up to their own advanced proof point. After this time, I didn’t taste as many of the following batches, although occasional check ins with the series such as the A121 bottling did seem to indicate that it was undergoing subjective improvement. It wasn’t until the 2022 batches, however, that I first began tasting some batches of Larceny Barrel Proof that I really loved—not whiskeys I ended up having a chance to review, but in particular the B522 and C922 batches of Larceny Barrel Proof struck me as quite impressive.
It’s been enough at least to recapture my interest in the series before this, the most recent batch, A123. Like all batches of Larceny Barrel Proof, this is from Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon mash bill, aged roughly 6-8 years. It’s bottled at a pretty stout 125.8 proof, which is actually the second highest in the history of the series, trailing only the 126.6 proof expression from C922. It carries an MSRP of $70—a little higher than when the brand was first announced, but that’s par for the course for the bourbon world during the last couple years of inflation. That MSRP still makes it a pretty solid value on paper, as cask strength wheated bourbons are never particularly easy to come by at an affordable price point.
So with all that said, let’s dive into this one and see how the series has continued to evolve.
On the nose, I’m getting plenty of caramel on Larceny BP A123, along with buttery toffee and hints of fresh fudge. It’s also fairly fruity, with a dark red fruitiness that is taking on a decidedly stewed dimension, combined with dried fruit. It’s hard to put a finger exactly on the nature of the fruit, perhaps somewhere between the brightness of raspberry and a slightly more vinous/currant note. Ethanol is not too aggressive here, even with the 125.8 proof.
On the palate, this one has a thicker, syrupy texture that hints at its sweetness as well. The fruit is there again, preserves or jam-like, with raspberry and strawberry, along with touches of different spice—cinnamon, clove and something more like cola. At the same time, there are more youthful grain impressions, with hints of doughy biscuit or bread. It’s also slightly grassy or herbaceous, with a finish pushing back in the direction of sweet, candied fruits.
All in all, this is a solid batch of Larceny BP, though the grain-forward flavors make it read as a bit youthful to me. Some of the best batches I’ve tasted in this series from late 2022 didn’t have the same emphasis on those notes, which ultimately makes them still my favorite Larceny BP batches I’ve had to date. A123, however, seems to continue trending in a positive direction, and I’m hopeful that 2023 will bring more good things to the series. I look forward also to tasting and review the first 2023 expression of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon in the very near future.
Distillery: Heaven Hill
City: Bardstown, KY
Style: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (wheated bourbon)
ABV: 62.9% (125.8 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $70 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.