Full bodied, bold, and spicy. Easily accessible and affordable.
This bourbon has a fair amount of alcohol heat and an out of place bubblegum note on the nose and finish.
Henry McKenna 10 year old bourbon is part of American whiskey giant Heaven Hill’s stable of bourbon brands produced at the company’s Bernheim distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. It remains part of an ever shrinking list of age stated bourbons, and also carries bottled in bond and single barrel designations on the label alongside its age statement. Along with all of Heaven Hill’s non-wheated bourbons including Elijah Craig, Heaven Hill, Evan Williams, Fighting Cock, JW Dant, and JTS Brown, Henry McKenna has a fairly high corn mash bill of 78% corn, 12% rye, and 10% malted barley. This means that the only theoretical difference between all of these different bourbon brands is barrel selection (and potentially cut of distillation taken).
Recently, Henry McKenna 10 Year has received a bunch of press hoopla after winning “world’s best bourbon” something or another at some west coast competition. I’m not going to talk much about it because I’ve been forced to hear about it ad nauseam. While I love the general enthusiasm of young bourbon drinkers, there’s only so many times I can hear the question “is it worth the hype???” before I start pulling my hair out. Another thing to remember with Henry McKenna 10 Year and every other single barrel whiskey is that one bottle may taste drastically different from the bottle next to it if they came from different barrels.
- Produced by Heaven Hill
- Mash of 78% corn, 12% rye, 10% malted barley
- Bottled in bond
- 50% ABV (100 proof) to meet bottled in bond regulation
- My bottle was from Barrel #3522 which was filled on 8/31/2007
Nose: Honey, caramel, and cherry candy are most assertive. Deeper in lie some vanilla, black pepper, oaky sweetness, barrel spice, and an oddly out of place bubblegum note. The nose is permeated by a fair amount of ethanol heat that, while it makes itself known, is not too detracting.
Palate: Fresh cut wood and sweet brown sugar greet the palate alongside a bit of heat before caramel and a big burst of peppery spice emerge. Underneath is a nice layer of soft charred vanilla marshmallow. The flavor is intense and more reminiscent of something bolder than 100 proof.
Finish: Nutty – almonds or pecans – and full of vanilla alongside more of that big black pepper spiciness. Further evolves to display bold toasted oak and faint notes of sweet caramel, honey, corn, and bubblegum.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try! Overall this bottle is a bit of a spice bomb, but it’s still a damn fine pour. While this is a single barrel bourbon, most of the Henry McKenna bottles I’ve had have shared this general spiciness. Many places see this bottle fill liquor store shelves for under $30, which makes this bourbon a fantastic value. Based off of taste, I’d personally value this bourbon around $40, and compare it most readily to Baker’s or Four Roses Single Barrel. As long as its price remains low, Henry McKenna 10 Year is a true gem that has enough to offer veteran bourbon drinkers, while also showing a spicier side of bourbon to more novice enthusiasts.