I have an odd history with Larceny. It was one of the first brands I reached for when acclimating to neat pours, and let’s just say my impressions weren’t overly enthusiastic. Despite this, I’ve revisited it more than other expressions, so why do I keep coming back? In a word: Hope. One thing I’ve quickly realized is that the number of (straight) bourbons I’d describe as “bad” are few and far between. Some that weren’t to my liking a couple or so years ago have ended up growing on me, going so far as to become new personal favorites (looking at you, Old Forester 100). As one of the few available and affordable brands I’ve had conflicting thoughts towards, Larceny has become something of gauge to see how much my tastes may or may not change.
Coming out of Heaven Hill, Larceny has an undisclosed mash bill with wheat as the secondary grain. As popular as wheated bourbons are, I’d say it’s an untapped subsection of bourbon since the key brands boil down to Maker’s Mark, Weller (if you can find it), Rebel, Larceny, and a couple others. Brands like Jim Beam, Old Forester, Jack Daniel’s, and Wild Turkey, for example, have no permanent expressions that utilize wheat, with Beam being the only one to have included it for select limited releases. So as one of the few wheated bourbons I can reliably find, I kind of want Larceny to grow on me so I have more options to consider. Will it happen today? Only one way to find out.
Nose: Sweet and somewhat light. French toast, dark deli bread, brown sugar, and honey roasted peanuts. Ginger snaps, honey, and licorice. Traces of vanilla and fruit syrup (apricot and orange).
Palate: Light syrup and oak spice. Caramel, honey, and a weak cherry-orange combo. Lightly sweetened peanuts with brown sugar.
Finish: Short-medium. Licorice and brown sugar with a sprinkling of oak. Sweet peanut syrup with vague hints of toffee, maple, and molasses.
Reading my notes, Larceny at least sounds like an enjoyable enough pour. Yet sometimes it’s less about the flavors on offer and more about how they come together. In this case, they seem to fumble in a bit of a stupor. Part of what makes Larceny such a headscratcher for me is how off-profile it feels for a wheated bourbon. Maybe it’s just how Heaven Hill products turn out, but the usual soft, sweet, and borderline yeasty notes characteristic of wheaters are dialed back in favor of syrup and nuts. Even if I remove my preconceived notions about what I think a wheater should be like, I still find myself unenthused by what I’m sipping.
What it comes down is that Larceny just doesn’t scratch the itch many will likely want out of a wheated bourbon. Furthermore, it doesn’t offer a compelling enough dram for those who simply want a solid drinking experience. I would call this a conflicted and sloppy pour, one that could make for a slightly interesting cocktail if nothing else. I just wish it could be a bit more.