For most of America’s history, the gears of government would cease to churn without the revenue generated from taxing alcohol. It paid for almost half the federal budget in some years. Gaugers or excise officers were put in warehouses to ensure Uncle Sam always got his “fair share.” It was the job of an excise officer to determine or “gauge” the amount of spirit made at a facility. Distilleries pretty much self-regulate today.
John E. Fitzgerald was a gauger who, as the story goes, would drink (steal) from the best barrels in the warehouse when no one was looking. When it came time to dump the barrels, there were always some that seemed suspiciously light. Workers would jokingly call these “Fitzgerald barrels.” Unfortunately, there’s no credible evidence linking John E. Fitzgerald to the Old Fitzgerald warehouses. Don’t you mean Larceny warehouses Ryan? More on that below.
Heaven Hill launched Larceny in 2012, so why does the label suggest the brand started in 1870? Well, Heaven Hill acquired Old Fitzgerald, whose roots date back to 1870, from what’s now Diageo in 1999. As I’ve mentioned in the past, when a company buys a brand, they also conveniently purchase the history of that brand. Heaven Hill, a distillery founded in 1935, simply decided to co-opt the Fitzgerald story, and act as though it was their own. Michter’s does the same thing. Like false fronts on buildings back in the old west, marketing departments will use every trick in the book to project longevity and stability.
Larceny is a wheated bourbon. What makes a wheated bourbon or “wheater” different from your typical bourbon is the absence of rye in the mash bill. Like all bourbons, wheaters need to be made from at least 51% corn. Larceny is 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley. Wheated bourbons generally lack a grassy, spicy profile, and tend to be on the sweeter side. Caramel, vanilla, candied fruit. Some citrus. A trace of oak in the background. The palate runs a tad thin, but that’s to be expected from a chill filtered, entry-level product. This is a nice, reasonably priced, easy-going sipper.