There’s something about a young wheated bourbon that appeals to more inexperienced drinkers and turns off the experienced ones. The thing about a wheated bourbon that is young is that it hasn’t had the time to develop those deep, rich flavors that it would have if it had aged longer. Conversely, this is also what helps them age better than their ryed bourbon counterparts.
Wheated bourbons also usually won’t have the complex and spicy traits like its brethren, ryed bourbon, does. But the muted spice and heat usually translates into a character most would classify as “smooth.” This term denotes a lack of heat, but to others it denotes a lack of flavor. So where do these bottles of Larceny and David Nicholson fit in to the field? They’re both extremely affordable (around $20), are probably aged anywhere between 4 to 6 years, are 8 proof points away from each other and can be found all over the place. In order to make things fair, I decided to taste them both semi-blind, neat and in a glenciarn.
Blind Glass 1
Nose: The nose is light, but you can still detect toffee and candy corn for the sweet notes. There’s a pleasant aroma of vanilla extract and a little kick of cinnamon stick to make things interesting.
Palate: For these lower-proof bourbons, I wasn’t expecting a decent amount of prickly ethanol on the palate. But looking past it, I do taste sweet peanut butter fudge with caramel drizzled on top. There is also more cinnamon stick. The mouthfeel is very thin overall.
Finish: The cinnamon lingers for a bit but the sweetness seems to not hint at caramel as much as it does a kind of simple syrup. The peanut effect is considerably more muted than it was on the palate, which is nice. But there is a virtual lack of any kind of tannins, which is disappointing.
Blind Glass 2
Nose: Some wood scents kick off this dram with sweet cedar wood and even sweeter vanilla blossoms. The wood scent does have a bit of “furniture polish” effect which isn’t the most enjoyable, but it is unique. There’s also some spice like cinnamon stick and a little bit of baking chocolate on the nose as well.
Palate: The palate is a somewhat one-sided affair like glass 1 was, with dark caramel and nutty toffee present. It is not as spicy as the nose would suggest.
Finish: For being a Heaven Hill distillate, the nuts I’m tasting are not peanuts, but just a generic toasted nut, which is nice! But the spice that was somewhat absent on the palate returns with pepper flakes, big red gum and cooling menthol. The whole finish is still sweet, but it’s not the main feature here.
Glass 1: Larceny
Glass 2: David Nicholson 1843
Winner: David Nicholson 1843!
The results were not that surprising to me. The extra 8 proof points help the 1843 out by giving it a bit more depth, spice and flavor. Larceny continues to be a letdown in terms of an entry level bourbon. Additionally, I would like to give a subjective opinion that the David Nicholson is a more attractive bottle as well. This makes it pretty easy to call this victory and not have second opinions. However, if David Nicholson 1843 is not available in your area, then you will have to turn to the Larceny after all. Wheated bourbons like these are few and far between, but if you insist on one, then give the 1843 a look.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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