For a whiskey to be considered bourbon, it has to contain at least 51 percent corn. While most bourbon brands predominantly use rye in the rest of their mash bills, others, called wheated bourbons, use wheat as a secondary grain.
Many wheated bourbons are famous for their sky-high prices, but some newer brands are proving that there’s more to wheated bourbon than meets the eye. Enter: Larceny Bourbon, a brand that’s beloved by bartenders and consumers alike for its approachable yet complex expressions.
Intrigued about this new-to-the-scene brand with a mysterious past? Read on for 10 more things you should know about Larceny.
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Larceny is all about wheat.
While it certainly isn’t the only brand to use wheat instead of rye in its bourbon mash bill — which creates a smoother and rounder character — Larceny uses more than most. Its mashbill consists of 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley, which the brand claims is 25 percent more wheat than other wheated bourbons.
Larceny was inspired by a thief.
Larceny gets its name from John E. Fitzgerald, an agent for the U.S. Treasury Department in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Because of his position, Fitzgerald was one of few people to have access to bourbon storage rickhouses. As the legend goes, he often broke into bourbon barrels, stealing tastes and even entire jugs for himself. True or not, Fitzgerald’s tale continues to inspire Larceny bourbon.
Old Fitzgerald was owned by a famous name in whiskey.
As the story goes, Fitzgerald initially built a Kentucky distillery in the 1870s, becoming a legend in the whiskey world. The brand Old Fitzgerald was then registered in the 1880s by Solomon C. Herbst, who had heard the story of Fitzgerald and wanted to build a brand around it.
Old Fitz was later sold during Prohibition to Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, whose namesake brand arguably produces the most famous wheated bourbon.
Larceny is not as old as you might think.
Though Larceny was inspired by the late Fitzgerald and the Old Fitz brand, it is relatively new. The brand was launched in 2012 and has become one of the most successful new bourbon brands of the decade.
It’s all made at one distillery.
Larceny is produced at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Ky. Founded in 1935, Heaven Hill is America’s largest family-owned and -operated single-site whiskey distillery. Though the bourbon is all distilled in one place, Larceny bourbons are made with barrels from over 55 rickhouses across six different sites.
Larceny won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Every whiskey lover knows Pappy Van Winkle, the rare wheated bourbon that can go for up to $18,000 on the secondary market. But for those who are looking to buy bourbon and still afford next week’s groceries, Larceny is a less expensive option at under $25 for its small-batch expression. In fact, it has even been referred to as “poor man’s Pappy.”
Though the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has hit the bar and hospitality industries hard, some businesses have experienced a boom before and during these trying times. Among these industries is bourbon, which saw a 12.9 percent increase in off-premise sales in 2019, gaining on that growth in 2020.
While these numbers include bourbon as a whole, large distillers like Heaven Hill have gained the most from the category’s surge. The distillery’s vice president of American whiskies, Susan Wahl, says Heaven Hill’s core brands, including Larceny, “have seen the most notable increases in recent years and during the pandemic.”
Larceny follows the rule of threes.
The brand offers three different bourbon expressions: Larceny Small Batch, Larceny Barrel Proof, and Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond. All three of these selections are wheated — and with proofs ranging from 92 to 122.2, they’re not for the faint of heart.
It’s beloved by beer fans.
Larceny barrels are a key ingredient in one of whiskey connoisseurs’ favorite brews: Goose Island Bourbon County. Though predominantly known for its stouts, Goose Island Bourbon County began releasing wheat wines aged in Larceny barrels in 2019, to the delight of beer and whiskey geeks alike.
You can now virtually ‘Unlock the Rickhouse.’
Ever wondered why every Larceny bottle is donned with a lock and key? You can once again thank John E. Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was among the only people legally allowed to carry the keys to barrel storage rickhouses, allowing for the thievery that inspired Larceny Bourbon.
For those who want to unlock the rickhouses for themselves, Larceny recently launched an augmented reality app on Google Play and the Apple Store, which allows users to explore rickhouses, learn about Larceny, and win prizes.