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Larceny Just Dropped A New Wheated Bourbon, So We’re Blind Tasting It Against Seven Competitors

Wheated bourbon whiskey is the most popular bourbon whiskey. The biggest and most sought-after bourbons are wheaties — Pappy, Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Maker’s, Rabbit Hole, and Larceny to name a few. The latter is why we’re here today. I just received the new Larceny Barrel Proof B522 and it’s pretty damn good. But, how does it stand up to other “good” wheated bourbons? I knew a blind taste test was in order.

Generally speaking, wheated bourbons are just bourbons — few people outside the industry chase down a bottle of Pappy or Weller because they’re a “wheated” bourbon. Still, there are plenty of nuances to be found. The difference is that wheated bourbons generally don’t have rye grains in their mash bills. This creates a subtly different flavor profile as wheat leans more toward soft cereals, fruit esters, and more winter spice than rye’s often dark pepperiness, grassiness, and herbal vibes. Of course, I’m making very broad statements with that, but it’s a place to start.

For this blind taste test, I’ve pulled six wheated bourbons and two “four-grain” bourbons that have both wheat and rye in the mix. Wheat is the through-line from top to bottom, and I want to know how the latest Larceny release stands up to them.

Our lineup today is:

  • Larceny Barrel Proof B522
  • Redemption Wheated Bourbon
  • New Riff Red Turkey Wheated Bourbon
  • Garrison Brothers Small Batch
  • Old Elk Four Grain Bourbon
  • Weller Special Reserve
  • Frey Ranch Small Batch Four Grain Bourbon
  • Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17-Year Spring 2022 Limited Edition

Let’s see how Larceny holds up.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

The Ranking

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

8. Redemption Wheated Bourbon — Taste 2

Redemption

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This release from Redemption is their take on MGP’s 45 percent winter wheat bourbon. Redemption’s team brings four-year-old barrels in-house and then masterfully blends them in small batches until they get just the right notes.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

The nose is kind of thin. It takes a while to find the fresh grass, nougat, cedar, and vanilla but it is there. The palate is slightly peppery with a lime leaf vibe next to drip coffee and brisket fat with a little more of that pepper. There’s a southern biscuit with butter and Nutella that leads to a finish full of creamy vanilla and woody spice.

Bottom Line:

Overall, this ends way stronger than it opens. It’s a fine sip, especially if you’re smoking a big piece of meat in the backyard. Still, it’d probably be mixing this into highballs while I’m tending to the firebox.

7. Old Elk Four Grain — Taste 5

Old Elk Four Grain
Old Elk

ABV: 52.95%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

This whiskey from out in Colorado combines two whiskeys from Indiana (MGP) with Colorado’s Rocky Mountain vibe. The whiskeys are a corn/rye/barley mash bill combined with a corn/wheat/barley mash to create a four-grain experience from blending instead of scratch. That whiskey then spends six to seven years aging in the Rocky Mountain state before it’s bottled as-is.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Dark fruit and almonds play with sweet apple wedges and vanilla sheet cake on the nose with a hint of leather, oats, and toffee lurking underneath it all. The taste is all about the creamy and nutmeg-heavy eggnog with a nice counterpoint of sweetgrass and vanilla pipe tobacco. The mid-palate has a sweet winter spice vibe that leads to a raw and sweet carrot and apple cores next to a hint of new wicker.

Bottom Line:

This was another one where I thought, “well, that’s nice,” and that was about it. Nothing pulled me back. Nothing pushed me away. It was just fine.

6. Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon — Taste 4

Garrison Brothers

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Garrison Brothers is a true grain-to-glass experience from Hye, Texas. The juice is a wheated bourbon made with local Texas grains. That spirit is then aged under the beating heat of a hot Texas sun before the barrels are small-batched (with only 55 barrels per batch), proofed with local water, and bottled.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Sweet grains. Sweet cereals. Sweet masa! The nose and palate are all about those grains and cereals with a welcoming sweet edge. The nose is more than just that though, there are notes of fairground candy apples, dry straw, old leather belts, and a hint of milk-soaked Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The palate is part vanilla shortbread and part angel food cake with lemon frosting, which all leans into those sweet grains. The mid-point coalesces into an oatmeal raisin cookie with plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon next to a bit of applewood smoke.

Bottom Line:

I never know where to put this. The sweet and raw grains are a lot but then it becomes really endearing by the end of the sip. Still, this feels pretty “crafty” and green because of that factor too.

5. Weller Special Reserve — Taste 6

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace doesn’t publish any of their mash bills. Educated guesses put the wheat percentage of these mash bills at around 16 to 18 percent, which is average. The age of the barrels on this blend is also unknown. We do know that they cut down those ABVs with that soft Kentucky limestone water.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This felt the most “classic” on the nose with hints of vanilla cream, cherrywood, new leather, and apple blossoms leading the way. The palate had a thin cream soda feel to it with both cherry and apple pie filling, a buttery pie crust, and a vanilla/cherry pipe tobacco chewiness. The mid-palate was full of dark cherry syrup that lead to more of that tobacco with a slight dry reed vibe on the end.

Bottom Line:

Well, look at that. Weller hitting the middle of the road… This was nowhere near as bold or refined as some of the other drams on this list. It was fine and classic but that was about it compared to what’s coming next.

4. New Riff Red Turkey Wheated Bourbon — Taste 3

New Riff Red Turkey Wheated Bourbon
New Riff

ABV: 50%

Average Price: Limited Availability ($50 MSRP)

The Whiskey:

This release from craft whiskey darling, New Riff, is all about the heritage grains. The whiskey uses a 19th-century grain, Red Turkey Wheat, to create a unique whiskey. The juice is aged for five years at New Riff’s warehouse before it’s vatted, proofed ever so slightly, and bottled as-is.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Sourdough crusts and cherry pies lead the way on the nose with support from raw leather, orange and grapefruit rinds, and a hint of cedar plank. The taste cinnamon forward with stewed cherries, more leather, and sweet grass. The mid-palate leans into the dark cherry with mulled wine sweetness and spiciness that leads to old grape skins and a little wet granite after the rain.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice mid-point for this list. This is a pretty tasty whiskey but was missing that “wow” factor. I’d sip it neat all day, mind you. But, I’d probably get a little bored after a while.

3. Frey Ranch Four Grain Small Batch — Taste 7

Frey Ranch Bourbon
Frey Ranch

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $55

The Whiskey:

Frey Ranch is all about the farm behind the whiskey. In this case, that’s a 165+-year-old farm in the Sierra Nevada basin near Lake Tahoe. The grains (corn, wheat, rye, and barley), fermentation, distilling, aging, and bottling all happen on-site at Frey Ranch.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Raw sourdough, cherry gummies, and vanilla mingle with freshly chopped firewood, burnt sugars, and a whisper of something that feels like my grandparent’s back porch on a hot summer’s day. Cinnamon-laden oatmeal raisin cookies and tart cranberries lead the way on the palate with red fruit leather and a hint of mocha latte. The red fruit drives the mid-palate toward a finish with plenty of raw oats and dark berry tobacco with a final note of that oatmeal cookie.

Bottom Line:

This was a damn nice pour today. It didn’t nearly reach the heights of the next two entries, but it easily beat the six pours below it.

2. Larceny Barrel Proof B522 — Taste 1

Larceny Barrel Proof B522
Heaven Hill

ABV: 61.9%

Average Price: $59 (MSRP)

The Whiskey:

The second batch of Larceny Barrel Proof of 2022 is batched from barrels of Heaven Hill’s iconic wheated bourbon (68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley). Those barrels are chosen for their specific flavor profile and blended as-is and bottled at barrel proof.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

A hint of red berries hits your nose first and then the nose goes full “classic” with notes of rich caramel, fresh leather, vanilla beans, raw pancake batter, and a soft note of kindling. The palate feels high-proof but not “hot” — that means it coats your mouth with a buzzing sensation but there’s no burn — as grassy mid-palate leads to subtle Christmas cake spice, salted caramel sauce, and a layer of cherry compote between two sheets of vanilla cake. The end is silky and lush with that cherry and vanilla fading toward damp and supple wicker that ultimately leaves you with a velvet mouthfeel and warm Kentucky hug.

Bottom Line:

This was really nice. I had no idea it’d be the first sip but it was a hell of a place to start. I kind of assumed this was the Old Fitz since it’s so dynamic but was corrected of that assumption once I actually got to the end of this tasting.

Still, this is pretty damn good and incredibly nuanced for a 120+ proof whiskey, wheated or not.

1. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17-Year Spring 2022 Edition — Taste 8

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17
Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $1,275

The Whiskey:

This wheated bourbon whiskey — 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley — was distilled and laid down in barrels back in 2004. The barrels were vatted after 17 years and proofed down to the bottled-in-bond standard of 100 proof and then bottled in the iconic Old Fitz decanter for a Spring 2022 release.

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This opens with a hint of fried dough with blackberry jam next to old vanilla pods, dried roses in an old leatherbound book, burnt orange peels, a hint of green cedar bark, and a stick of rock candy. The palate is a nuanced dance between creamy vanilla, lush pipe tobacco, winter spices, and soft cherrywood that’s just starting to light on fire with a twinge of char forming. Brandy-soaked cherries covered in creamy milk chocolate lead to sticky toffee pudding with plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon and the lush, velvety, decadent note of cherry tobacco by way of soft, almost airy vanilla cream inside of an old cedar box that held leather for an eon.

Bottom Line:

This was miles ahead of every other sip. It was evident from the first nose. If Larceny is second (and great), this is first and transcendent. It’s just so much more refined while having more going on that speaks to the cockles of your soul. It’s also the pour I immediately wanted to go back to.

Final Thoughts

Wheated Bourbon Blind
Zach Johnston

It’s kind of ironic that the two whiskeys from the same distillery, mash bill, and warehouses topped this list. I had no idea Larceny was the first pour but it was immediately evident it was a heightened bourbon experience. Then that Old Fitz was just on another plane of existence.

Then like a lot of these tastings, the rest was perfectly fine. There were no bombs or stinkers. Everything was drinkable, mixable, or very sippable. But that Old Fitz made me forget about pretty much everything else once it hit my nose and lips, including the Larceny, which is wild because that is a pretty damn good whiskey.

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