Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Review: John E. Fitzgerald Larceny Bourbon

Larceny Bourbon is the latest release from Heaven Hill Distillery. This small batch bourbon consists of 100 barrels “or less” aged in the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors of the aging warehouse. The name refers to John E. Fitzgerald’s (Old Fitzgerald namesake) propensity to use his keys to the aging warehouses to “steal” bourbon from the very best barrels at his disposal. These barrels became known as the “Fitzgerald barrels”.

I’m not exactly certain if Heaven Hill intends to eventually replace the Old Fitz line with Larceny, or if this is simply an additional product offering. Time will tell. For now, let’s take a taste of this new wheated bourbon.

John E. Fitzgerald Larceny Bourbon, 46% abv (92 Proof), $24.99/bottle
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Brown sugar, caramelized banana, honeysuckle, corn, and a healthy dose of ground cinnamon. There is a bit of oaky resin as well.
Palate: Velvety on the tongue and surprisingly well spiced. Brown sugar syrup, vanilla, and notes of sweet corn are livened up big time with a cinnamon and wood spice punch.
Finish: Falls off quickly, but with an even warmth, never too hot, and a hint of honeyed sweetness.
Overall: This is an impressive release from Heaven Hill at this price point. First off – the proof is right on for an easy sipping and inexpensive wheated bourbon. They’ve left the flavor here without compromising drinkability. Because of the price, the natural comparison is against Maker’s Mark, but to me this compares closer in flavor profile with Maker’s 46. The healthy doses of cinnamon and wood spice have made for a much more interesting sip than the standard Maker’s.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.6 (Very Good/Excellent)


  1. Maybe it’s just me, but when I first sipped Larceny, there was no taste at the first instant. It’s like it sneaks in and turns on a match. Spices were nice. The finish smooth. It’s a nice wheater. I’m still a Weller man, but this was good on the rocks, neat and it mixed well.

  2. Heaven Hill usually leaves me pretty underwhelmed, but I am hearing lots of good things about Larceny. Although everyone ends their comments with “…for the price.” I’m always looking for good whisky, but like many a good whisky at a good price is hard to find…

  3. I think your review is right on the money Jason! I agree, the mouthfeel is more velvety than Makers. It is at a good proof and offers a very full complex wheated bourbon alternative. I havent reviewed it yet but I think 8.5-8.6 sounds about right!

  4. Wow, that sounds awesome. If you think it compares to MM 46, I’m definitely interested in trying it… I love hearing the backstories behind the names of these new bourbons released. It’s great marketing and hopefully its backed by a great product, which sounds like it is!

  5. Tried this the first time the other night&liked it quite well.Picked up alot of nuances very smooth finishes with a little heat.I think Parker&Craig Knew they had to step up there wheated bourbons a bit.Well done!!

  6. I was really interested in this one and was happy to find it at the first bar I visited in Lexington. I found Larceny to be quite boring, even “for the money”. After a decent entry flavor totally dies. I tried again at HH distillery and again at an event and was met with the same results. Really wanted to like it but I think Makers Mark is a better product without a doubt.

  7. SteveBM – thanks for the comment. You are not alone in this opinion of Larceny, but I obviously disagree. It’s a cohesive bourbon that aligns with a sub 8-10 year wheated flavor profile, however I think it has a good bit more spice and zip than this typical wheated age range. That’s one of the reasons I liken it more closely to Maker’s 46. It’s not quite as complex as 46, and as a result it garnered a lower rating, but I think they’ll have a hit with this one. We shall see.

  8. I’ve tried it and although I don’t find it to be as good as Makers or my beloved Knob Creek, at the moment they are running a deal on it that is hard to pass up. The regular size bottle on sale for $21, with a $10 mail in rebate. The full size bottle is $40 with a $20 mail in rebate. Hard to pass that up. Be good for just letting people drink on at a party when you don’t want them in your good stuff.

  9. I agree with you, Jason, and think a comparison to MM46 is a good one. I also think that it can’t approach Weller 12. For the price, it is a good deal.

  10. Just picked up some today and had a taste, finally. I’ve been waiting a while for this, hoping against hope that this would finally be the relatively well-aged and yet competitor which could approach the quality of Weller 12, which is damned hard to find. Your comparison with the 46 is dead-on – I even get the naked oak flavor I get from the 46, where you can actually sense the wood itself on the palate. IMO this can be the difference between a brilliantly slow-aged bourbon and one which has had a bit more extreme aging environment. In the Weller 12 and of course the PVW line I find myself not picking up the wood per we, but instead finding vanilla and cinnamon, and those wood components, without actual lumber on the palate, as I get with the 46 and Larceny. a bit melancholy to see that it doesn’t stack up as close as the Weller 12, but happy it’s a good bourbon, and a good one for the money at that.

  11. Jason, As a past fan of Old Fitz BIB, I had to try this one ASAP. I like Larceny a lot more, and it’s a whole different animal: the leather is absent, it has smoother texture, a more caramel nose, more corn and less wheat on the nose and in the flavor, and a touch more spicy aroma of “Dad’s shop, fresh sawn 2x4s “. I like it, and for $23 it presents a tough choice for value between it and the WL Weller at $4 more per.

  12. Jason, I agree with you and Texas 100%. If Heaven Hill is trying to make a bigger dent in the MM market, this will do it. They might as well drop Old Fitz, because this leaves in the shade. It shows more refinement and complexity than MM, without the slight tart/bitter edge MM has, and I do see the comparison to MM46. I still don’t put it quite up there with Weller 12, but I have real trouble finding the Weller. And with this rebate offer I can afford to give Larceny another try. And another. And another. This looks like my everyday wheater right now.

  13. Jason, tried Larceny this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. A long sweet finish with touches of cinnamon, almost reminds me of the candy red hot’s that lingers for a long time. Pairs well with a cigar. I agree that Makers 46 and Larceny are going head to head…but I think that Larceny wins especially for the price point. Good stuff for sure.

  14. Jason,

    Been comparing Larceny against some of my other wheated bourbons and Evan Williams 2002. I am really starting to like this bourbon, and I think it may become my favorite wheated bourbon, although I think Evan Williams 2002 SB beats it out on complexity. Still need to revisit Old Fitz 12 and Weller 12…..but something about this bourbon is very unique. Never have been a fan of Makers products until Makers 46, but Larceny….seems to have stolen my heart. 🙂

  15. Jason, Here’s a follow-up note to what I said six weeks back. We finished the bottle over the weekend and felt a fair bit less impressed than upon the first few tastes. Not a great mixer. Not much of a wheater in style, becoming much less so as the bottle goes down. The corn punch gets pretty raucous by bottle’s end, in a more polite Geo Dickel #12 direction. Gets hard to accept that it’s purported to be wheated at all. Not gonna re-purchase this one, preferring Dickel for the style and the WL Weller 12 for what we’d thought this bottle might be.

  16. I liked Larceny from the start, but now that I’ve had it for four months, I must say it is really growing on me. Maybe it’s just my tastebuds, but I taste, most of all, carameled green apples and cinnamon, which I don’t pick up in any other whiskey. Even the oak burn on the tongue in mid-taste, which I wasn’t so crazy about at first, is really a positive spice to me now. As long as I have to travel hundreds of miles to find Weller 12, this is my favorite everyday pour.

  17. I agree with Jason’s review. Like most, I agree that this is a good bourbon “for the price.” To me it tastes like the spicy cinnamon of Maker’s Mark 46 combined with the cherry cola of Knob Creek, but thinner, less complex, and with a shorter, dry finish.

    At full-price, I’d rather buy something else. However, the current rebate on Larceny is an amazing value, resulting in a net price of $20 for 1.75L. At the equivalent of about $8.50 a bottle, this is the best value on the bourbon shelf, by far!

  18. I am on my 3rd big bottle of this. I really do like it for the price. At my cigar club people are always wanting a drink of whatever I have out and it is nice to have something that is this good and cheap. I pay $42 for the big bottle here in Austin.

  19. Jason, I’ve got say that I’m thrilled with this new wheater. I must have missed the memo because I didn’t realize it was a wheated bourbon until I read your review. I’ve seen it on the store shelves but quite frankly was unimpressed with its name and bottle shape. Then I read your review. I’m one of those folks that has graduated from Makers but still have a warm spot in my heart for wheated boubon. I like Weller 12 but found that I was drawn to the spicier non-wheated Buffalo Trace,which has just the right amount of rye for my taste.
    When I tried Larceny I really enjoyed it’s surprising spiciness and heat. It’s a really good pour and will be one of my staples. I’m also happy that both Larceny and Buffalo Trace can be purchased in the low 20s in my area. Thanks for the great review.

  20. Joshua Lawrence

    March 20, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I submitted a rebate form a few months ago and have never got a rebate check back it was for $20 on the larger bottle of Larceny.

    Thank you.

  21. Totaly agree with your review. This bourbon has way more flavor than Makers Mark. I picked it up because of the 10$ rebate attatched to it. GladI did. Not sure if its just me but is I seem to like every small batch bourbon I’ve had.

  22. I tried Larceny because of the rebate, which made it about the same price as my everyday bourbon. I liked it, but not nearly well enough to ever buy it at full price.

  23. Just used this for an infusion for the holidays – yes, sacrilege to some but it really turned out beautifully! Cardamon, rose petal, and tonka bean, tastes like a super dry Manhattan made w/very high end bitters and the frangrance is just incredible.

  24. YIKES – just reread what I typed! Bourbon + keyboard = atrocious typing! CARDAMOM and FRAGRANCE. There I feel better… 🙂

  25. The good review here intrigued me. When I found it in California on sale for $21, with a $10 rebate form strung around the neck, I had to pick it up. Wonderful over ice. Good enough for me to buy again. Extremely good value at the price I paid!

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