Thursday, December 12, 2019

Whiskey Review: Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel #2064

Until pretty recently Henry McKenna Single Barrel went largely under the radar. While other single barrel bourbons flew off the shelves and rose in price, it was almost always available with no markup. All of that changed after it won an award, which seems to be red meat for a certain kind of bourbon customer. Whiskey nerds and flippers fanned out across the country, buying up every bottle they could lay hands on. I now regularly see posts with people crowing about their finds.

I bought this one long before the madness set in, so let's find out if it's worth the hype.

This whiskey was barreled on February 7th, 2005, then bottled at 50%.

Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel #2064

Nose: a little on the hot side with a fair bit of alcohol, rich caramel/toffee and American oak, milk chocolate, corn, mint and berries in the background. After adding a few drops of water the heat significantly diminishes, but the overall structure remains much the same.

Taste: sweet and fruity with berries up front, a sweet corn and vanilla undercurrent throughout, fading into moderate oak with mint in the background. After dilution the heat mostly fades up front to reveal more pronounced sweetness and less bitter oak at the back, but some of the complexity drops out to give a simpler profile.

Finish: balanced corn sweetness, oak, and mint with some berries in the background

While not life-changing, this is a really good bourbon that didn't cost me an arm and a leg. I first tried it at an OMSI After Dark event and managed to find a bottle locally, on sale, for $30. Since then I've been slowly drinking it down, enjoying it without finding it spectacular. With the more recent hype I've found myself wryly amused, unclear what everyone is falling over themselves to buy. While I think it's always been a quality bourbon, I'm not sure that it's really head and shoulders above more readily available releases from the likes of Four Roses. Back at MSRP I would have reached for it ahead of Four Roses Single Barrel, but now the choice would be much easier. I hope everyone is enjoying the bourbon they paid stupendous markups for, but until the market calms down I think I'll let this one be.

1 comment:

  1. I had at least 6 different bottles, each a distinct barrel [before all the hullabaloo (and was $23) this was one of my staple]. Each was very different: lighter color (floral, citrus, mid palate), orangy (orange zest, cinnamon, baking spices), darkest (baking spices, burnt caramel, oak focus, slight bitter tannin, back palate). I loved the darkest best and used to be able to get a couple at a time. Most people will get the not so good bourbon (and no selection) b/c: the best barrel was submitted to the SF WSC (and won) [This is bad business practice from the consumer's perspective and I don't patronize single barrel winners as a rule]. The best part about the hullabaloo is that I had to get digging for my next bourbon and found it: again, it's batch dependent - Elijah Craig 12 yr Cask Strength. Going from $23 to $60 is a little steep, but I really love the EC12. In between, I can go for Dickel BiB. Thanks for getting back to good health and writing again.