Heaven Hill Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon

I finally finished the last of my Evan Williams 1.75 liter bottle the other day and wanted to get some more. So I went to Total Wine and Spirits this afternoon to get another. That was a mistake. Total Wine is my Costco for spirits. I always leave with more than I intended to buy, and oftentimes, I don’t leave with what I intended to buy in the first freakin’ place!

So no, I didn’t leave with another 1.75 liter bottle of Evan Williams. Instead, I left with a bottle of Henry McKenna and a bottle of Paddleford Creek (which I will eventually review) INSTEAD of my cheap bottle of Evan Williams. Damn! Oh well, I’ll just go down to RiteAid and get the Evan Williams later. It’s just as cheap there, and the selections are far narrower and thus, I will be less tempted to buy more. But hey! I ended up with some bourbon I hadn’t had yet, and they didn’t break the bank.

So what about this 10-year Henry McKenna? Playing off Forest Gump, Single barrel bourbon is like a box of chocolate. You never what you’re gonna get.” But I’m the adventurous type, so I’ll usually give something I’ve never tried a whirl. Luckily this doesn’t suck. Actually, it’s pretty damn good!

The “Aged 10 Years” at the top of the label was what caught my eye. Then when I saw that it was single barrel, I have to admit that I was just a little reluctant because my experience with single barrel anything meant there’s a bit of variability. But what the hell, I figured, it’s only $20, and I could always make an Old Fashioned out of this and just add a lot of sugar to mask out any unpleasantries. 🙂

I was actually a bit surprised that the bourbon is as light as it is, considering how long it was in-barrel. Also, the mouthfeel is surprisingly lighter than what I’d expect for something that has had a long contact with wood. But no matter, as you’ll read below, neither of these is a negative mark.

What I Smell

My first whiff right out of the bottle is alcohol. That got me immediately thinking Yowee! This is gonna be hot like rye! But a little air calms that down and the alcohol gives way to oak, honey, cinnamon, and allspice with a little hint of orange blossom at the end. Nice.

What I Taste

This is amazingly light bodied in texture and smooth as well considering the 100 proof. The flavors come in distinct waves starting with cinnamon and spice up-front, resolving to a pleasing citrusy bite with a bit of vanilla, then finishing off with a long, fresh, mint/menthol finish. It goes down warm, but not at all over-powering.

How I Like to Drink It

I know, this is absolutely brand new for me, but I can see how I like it. First of all, despite the initial heat, this is a nice bourbon to drink neat over a long period of time; or drop in a chip of ice or a splash of water, and the aromas and flavors bloom.

Late at night as a nightcap, I could do with an ounce in a Glencairn glass and sit down with a good book.

When I get back from the Stanford-Oregon game tonight, I’m definitely going to make an Old Fashioned with this. Those citrusy, spicy notes are the perfect foil for bitters and orange oil. Yum.

Overall Impression

At about $20 for a fifth, this is a great value. It’s not super complex by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to say that I like it – a lot. Not sure as of yet if I’d add it to my regular rotation, but I can definitely see having this around!