Whiskey Review: Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Back in October, when we here at Thirty One Whiskey were scouring the bottom shelves of our local liquor stores, I stumbled upon a bottle of Old Fitzgerald Wheated Bourbon. It was a three-star bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery that cost a whopping $16. Given that success (or what counts as success for the bottom shelf of a liquor store), it just feels fitting that we do a review of Heaven Hill’s heir apparent wheated bourbon: Larceny. 



In the world of American whiskey, few names hold as much historical significance as Old Fitzgerald bourbon. This storied brand traces its origins back to 1870 when John E. Fitzgerald builds a distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. As history goes, the only place the initial whiskey was sold were to steamship lines and private clubs. Old Fitzgerald did not become a registered trademark until 1884, and officially hit the public market in 1889.

Over the years, Old Fitzgerald experienced changes in ownership. The brand passed through the hands of various companies beginning with Stitzel-Weller in 1933 at the end of prohibition. Norton-Simon was next in 1972. In 1984, the Distillers Limited of Scotland, who merged with Guinness in 1986 to form United Distillers, which ultimately becomes Diageo in 1997.

In 1999, Heaven Hill distillery purchased the Bernheim Distillery from Diageo to create additional capacity after fire destroyed their Bardstown distillery and seven rickhouses. As of today, Heaven Hill remains the owner of this historic brand.

In an effort to rebrand their wheated bourbon line, Heaven Hill created the Larceny product. This wheated bourbon is in the process of replacing the Old Fitzgerald line. (However, it should be noted that the Old Fitzgerald decanter series continues to be listed on the Larceny website, so it does not appear to be going away entirely.)

The Larceny name and key that adorns the bottle comes from the stories surrounding Fitzgerald himself. John Fitzgerald was a US Treasury agent who, due to his position, had access to bonded rickhouses. Rumor has it that he would use his keys to the rickhouse to enter late at night and sample some of the barrels — and sometimes even take jugs of bourbon home. This would mean when it was time to bottle the bourbon, some barrels would be significantly lighter than full barrels. These became known as Fitzgerald barrels.


All bourbon whiskeys must, by law, use grains as their raw materials. Further, at least 51% of those grains need to be corn. But what about the other 49% of the bottle? That’s left to the distillers to figure out — typically, you’ll see is some percentage of rye, and sometimes a bit of malted barley.

What makes Larceny distinct is its status as a wheated bourbon, which means it contains a higher proportion of wheat in its grain mash bill, setting it apart from traditional bourbons that typically rely on rye. The mashbill is not clearly disclosed, but Heaven Hill states that they use 25% more wheat than other wheated bourbons. Given that we do not know what that is in comparison to, we still know nothing more about what goes into the mash. Based on several sources online, we can guess that the mashbill is something close to 70% corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malted barley.

Details are scarce about the specific production process, but just like every other spirit, we can safely assume that those grains are milled, cooked, and then fermented before being distilled to create the crystal clear, new make whiskey. It is then put in a new charred American oak barrel to be aged for a minimum of 4 years, the minimum time to meet the legal requirement for a “straight” bourbon without needing to specify an age statement on the bottle (which is notably absent on this bottle).

According to the Heaven Hill website, the barrels are all from the Nelson County, Kentucky rickhouses. The blend comes from barrels that are 6 to 12 years old and have been typically stored at the higher levels of the rickhouse, which promotes wider temperature swings and therefore has a larger impact on the flavor of the whiskey.


As far as whiskey bottles go, this is a fairly unique shape. It has a rectangular footprint and tapers in slightly at the sides. About two-thirds of the way up the bottle, the sides begin to flare out in a gentle curve, which soon curves back in to create the shoulder. It reminds me vaguely of a guitar, in an abstract, Pablo Picasso kind of way. There is a medium length neck, and it’s all topped with a synthetic stopper.

The label seems to have a old, yellowed paper motif with black lettering. It’s covered in iconography associated with John Fitzgerald. His name is printed at the top, his signature is located on the right-hand side, the year 1870 is mentioned (which is the year Fitzgerald built his distillery in Frankfurt, Kentucky), and the key and keyhole icons are reminiscent of his time thieving rickhouses as a treasury agent.

All in, I do like this bottle. It has a shape that stands out against the common round bottle. The bulbous flare out at the top makes it comfortable and easy to pour from. And the label packs in a lot of messages about Fitzgerald without being overwhelming.



The aroma that this bourbon gives off is very sweet — the most notable aroma is a strong honey aroma mixed with cinnamon spice. There are also more subtle aromas that remind me of stone fruit, maybe peach or apricot. Overall, it has a sweet and pleasant nose.

When I take my first sip, that strong cinnamon flavor is the first thing I notice. It’s not quite as bad as a shot of Fireball, but it’s almost like I am using a cinnamon stick to sir my bourbon. Beyond the cinnamon there is a generic sweetness that can be best described as maple syrup with a mild nutmeg flavor, which reminds me a lot of pumpkin pie.

The finish has flashes of apricot and a more mild sweetness reminiscent of honey. There is no burn at all, and just a mild taste of pepper that lingers.

It’s a very smooth bourbon that is very drinkable neat — and just another example of why the more I try the sweeter, smooth, wheated bourbons, the more I like them.

On Ice

On the rocks, you normally expect a bourbon to mellow slightly and this bourbon does exactly that. The biggest change is the sweetness, which is considerably less prominent than we saw before. You no longer get the intensity that reminds me of pumpkin pie, rather, it’s more akin to toffee or caramel now. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still sweet, it’s just not as diabetes-inducing about it.

The nutmeg and other baking spices are still present, and somehow more prominent with that reduced sweetness. The biggest change is that the cinnamon is no longer quite as prominent as we saw when taken neat, instead being more of a member of the chorus than a solo vocalist.

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, though. Sadly, the apricot is all but lost. I can sort of taste it, but I am not sure how much is that me tasting it, or searching for it and finding something that might be close.

That said, it’s still a very good bourbon on the rocks. Sitting oceanside in the Keys, this is a great sipper to enjoy the evening.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

This makes a decent old fashioned. Not my favorites, but it’s a good everyday cocktail. As you might have guessed, it’s on the sweet side — between the sugar in the muddled with the bitters and the sweetness of the bourbon, sweetness is the most forward flavor profile of this cocktail.

Speaking of the bitters, they seem to cover up some of the non-sweet flavors of the bourbon. I can still pick out some of the cinnamon flavor, but the remainder are lost behind the angostura like a large fern has been suddenly rolled in front of them.

Generally speaking, I think wheated bourbons could use the most help when making cocktails. I could see some different combinations of bitters elevating this cocktail. Peach bitters, in particular, comes to mind as a flavor that might really elevate an old fashioned made with Larceny.

In practice though, while out my vacation, I think I drank Larceny in an old fashioned as often as I did on the rocks. Most of the bottle was consumed in one of those two methods, and lets just say I didn’t complain much.

Fizz (Mule)

Well, this is just mediocre.

The sweetness of the bourbon went well with the ginger beer, but the rest of the flavors in Larceny were lost behind the bright effervescence of the ginger beer. It’s a very refreshing cocktail, but as often is the case with bourbons with some more delicate flavors, the ginger beer is large, in charge, and completely overpowering the whiskey.

This made me especially sad, as a mule would have made the perfect cocktail to sip while manning the grill in the Florida evening. Instead, it was like drinking a cold glass of ginger beer with a non-descript bourbon. It might as well be a generic grocery store Kentucky mule in a can.


Overall Rating

I am slightly disappointed that this is the replacement for Old Fitzgerald, which was a wheated bourbon that did great in cocktails – and it did not break the bank at $16. However, Larceny has upleveled the wheated bourbon offering in the Heaven Hill portfolio. It’s a bourbon that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, but it does not do as well in a cocktail.

At $29, Larceny may not be quite as easy on the wallet, but doesn’t break the bank either. It’s an affordable, decent bourbon. In fact, I enjoyed this so much, I ended up getting a second bottle to round out my bourbon options for the second week in the Keys. It was the perfect bourbon for the evenings where I wanted a second drink, but wanted to step back from some of the more expensive bourbon.

Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Produced By: Larceny
Owned By: Heaven Hill Distillery
Production Location: Kentucky, United States
Classification: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $29.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5
A wheated bourbon as smooth as a treasury agents getaway plan


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