Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Bottled In Bond Review

This particular single barrel of Henry McKenna was picked out by the gregarious folks at K&L and I’ll cut to the chase here… it’s good. Real good; I’m glad I listened to David OG when he said pick it up. From a taste perspective Henry McKenna bourbon is something I haven’t been too familiar with until this year. Yes I know it’s the same mashbill as Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Fighting Cock and more, but as you probably already know when distilleries put out different brands from the same distillery using the same mashbill it’s because they do something a little bit different with it to change the overall profile a bit.

I don’t exactly know what that difference is when it comes to the regular Henry McKenna Bourbon, but here in the single barrel version it’s not all too dissimilar from some of the Evan Williams Single Barrels I’ve had. This one definitely has a richer wood driven character to it than any of the EWSBs I’ve had, but instead of me blabbing on about the ghosts of whiskey past let’s get on with the review of this “ghost” of whiskey present shall we?

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Age: 10 years
ABV: 50%
Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye & 12% barley
Price: $27

Barrel: 1115

EYE
Caramel

NOSE
A nice wood driven nose peppered with notes of vanilla, caramel, rye spice, cinnamon, clove, butterscotch and some light dark fruit. Add a splash of H2O and the butterscotch gets more prominent while the spice dying down a bit and a hint of red licorice creeps in.

PALATE
Like the nose it’s wood driven with notes of dark fruit, vanilla, rye spice, red licorice, butterscotch and cardamom hitching a ride. A little water brings out more of the red licorice and some corn along with a touch more spice and a thin wispy note of dill.

FINISH
Long, spicy and woody with some notes of raw grains, red licorice, vanilla and a feint bit of dill showing up along the way.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Great balance complimented by a thick round body and a slick viscous texture.

OVERALL
Love it. This is some fantastic bourbon right here. I love the heavy wood driven character that invades the senses and the way it’s broken up by jabs of dark sweet notes. Thick, rich and spicy this is the kind of bourbon I want to be drinking every day. I just can’t say enough about how much I love this whiskey.

SCORE: 90/100

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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64 Responses to Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Review

  1. I picked up a bottle after reading your review, and couldn’t agree more. This is some excellent whiskey right here. I love the woodiness in this bourbon, which is more prominent than in other single barrels I’ve tasted, although I still love EVSB. It’s great to pour for my non-whiskey drinking friends who show an interest in bourbon. It holds up well with a splash of water or on the rocks, even though neat is my preference. All in all, a great value at 27 dollars a bottle.

      • I just recently bought a bottle of this, and wow is the alcohol strong on the nose! I’ve never had a bourbon or whiskey clear my sinuses like this one did. This one is going to take some getting used to. It’s just too harsh for me to drink neat. I’m going to have to add some spring water or an ice cube or two for now anyway.

  2. Completely and utterly agree with you. This was the “dark horse” of my inexpensive bourbon adventures–I expected it to be acceptable and pleasant, like Buffalo Trace or Larceny. Instead I discovered the hidden gem of the liquor store.

    Honestly, this is probably the only bourbon I’d consider buying a case of. Well, maybe a mixed case of Henry McKenna SB BIB and Elijah Craig 12 Year.

  3. Hello, my girlfriend and I live in VA, we wanted to know how much is a bottle of Henry McKenna, it is from the 1983 my parents have had it and now its mine. She wants to give to my brother as a gift, but not until we know how good it is. I think is 2 lt. She also has a bottle of 1lt each of Early Times and, George Dickel, If they are expensive I don’t think we will part with them.

    • Much better to drink them or give them as gifts like you planned. You wouldn’t get much for them in an auction and none of those are the super rare collectors whiskeys. But they probably taste pretty darn good so hope you get to taste them if you give ’em away.

      Cheers!

  4. Really enjoying this Boubon, which, prior to seeing it on the shelf last week, I was unaware of. Given its pedigree & age, I decided to give a shot. I agree with your take on it, with minor mods. Yes, red licorice, but I’d lean more towards maraschino cherry. Also, not a knock, but I’d characterize it on the sweet side, what I’d call a “desert bourbon.” What it reminds me most of is another whiskey from the same distiller, Weller 12, that I was fortunate to find recently. (It’s now on the endangered list here in Colorado.) Obviously, the latter is a wheater, and has those notes in the profile, but I find the sweetness and cherry overtones very similar. They booth are very smooth & easy to sip without water or ice, which I prefer, with a pleasing complexity, and are a steal for a signed barrel 10 bonded for under $30. A keeper!

    • Hey Win,

      Being a single barrel experiences are going to change from barrel to barrel. I’ve had some that are sweeter like the one you’re describing and I’ve had some that were a bit more woody and herbally. Though they’ve almost always been well worth their price 🙂 On a side note Weller is made by Buffalo Trace (Sazerac) and this is made by Heaven Hill. Heaven Hill’s wheater is Larceny which is also a decent whiskey and if you haven’t tried it I’d recommend adding to your list.

      Cheers!

  5. Just. Brief comment: found a bottle of bonded McKenna this afternoon. First taste and almost too much for me but guessed quality there…. A few drops of ice cold water and this whiskey blossomed and was smooth and wonderful. Glad I found it. Thought I might pass these ill-informed oberservations alomg.
    A wonderful whiskey. Makes me proud to be born in Kentucky, college, too.

  6. This just hit the shelves in my area a couple months back. 10 years old-Single Barrel-Bottled in Bond…it has it all for around $30! My bottle has an earthy, musty oak quality that I’m a huge fan of. Lots of barrell influence. This and EW BIB are the two bourbons I “discovered” in 2015. Now I can’t imagine not keeping them in the cabinet.

  7. Was in a bar in Portland a few weeks ago and asked him for his top underrated bourbons. This was one of them as well as Old Forester 1897. Didn’t get to try McKenna BiB, but did try Old Forester 1897 (not sure If you’ve tried that OF 1897); but would you know how Henry McKenna compares to OF 1897?

  8. I bought a bottle last spring and took it with me on a 4500 mile trip visiting family. Excellent sipping whiskey with water on the side. good value, sometimes on sale here for $25 a fifth. half my relatives appreciated the oak tones and clean finish as they sipped. the half chugged the shot, made a face, then were upset when i wouldn’t pour.
    scott livesey
    just an old sailor glad to be home from the sea

  9. I found a bottle of this at the local shop recently. A week later, I bought a bottle of Rowan’s Creek. I gotta tell you, they are eerily similar. The Rowan’s Creek seemed a bit younger (that may have been my untrained tongue) but otherwise they were indistinguishable. I love this one, and at this price point, it will now be a regular on my shelf. I’d love to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience.

  10. I just brought a bottle and wow… okay this is a very good whiskey. I take it back, this is the best whiskey for the price! Long long butterscotch and vanilla. The spice hits you in the back but not too overpowering. Excellent neat or on ice. Absolutely five stars!

  11. So I had my wife pour me 3 bourbons in a blind taste test tonight for my birthday, all from Heaven Hill. Henry McKenna 10 year, Evan Williams 2006 SB, and Evan Williams BIB. I fully expected to pick the McKenna but strangely the White Label I thought was my favorite. It was very similar in flavor to the McKenna but I thought the finish was longer and it seemed a bit more lively. The 2006 SB was very smooth but a bit thin. All 3 great values as I paid 32 for each SB and 17 for the white label.

  12. So I just bought the McKenna b/c it was on sale.. I had never heard of it actually..very smooth with a slight long burn at the end. Not to mention an excellent price point..an instant favorite!

  13. Fantastic bourbon…even better at $29, but punches way above its weight class

    I found the nose to be rather sweet, almost cloying, but then when it hit the palate – BOOM! An explosion of CINNAMON, some caramel, light vanilla, and rye spice. The finish was also lengthy and full of cinnamon, spice, and something else… caramel apples, maybe…

    Sweeter than WT101, but similar cinnamon spice profile to A Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel I recently enjoyed…

    Purchased after reading your review. Surprises me that it was a dusty bottle on a lower shelf. Impressive. I’ll be going back for the other one…

  14. I picked up a bottle for $22 on sale… good grief! Is this as tasty as I think? Glad to see that other whiskey drinkers agree. Great character for a whiskey in this price. Could pour in a blind test and think this was a $35 bottle no doubt. Going back to get more. What a deal!

  15. Ya know , I’ve never pulled the trigger on this brand and I’ve seen a few offerings of it . I think the name throws me off in thinking it’s Scotch , which I dont enjoy . Anyway , it sounds like you are impressed with it and it’s just in my ” high end ” range of 30 bucks and under . I havent tried a new to me brand in some months , so this will be my next Bourbon ! Thanks .. needed a nudge on a brand to pull the trigger on something new

  16. My state ran this on sale in August for $25. Stockpiled 3 bottles all from different stores so I got a good mix of different barrels. Looking forward to experiencing any differences in profile.

  17. You nailed this great Bourbon perfectly. Just an amazing value and one has to laugh at all the people freaking out trying to spend $300+ for Old Forester Birthday, Four Roses 2016s and God knows what for BTAC right now when you can get this for between $30 and $35 a bottle all day long, by the case, whatever. Fools and their money…

  18. Henry McKenna 10Yr BIB is one of the last great values in bourbon. I wonder how long it will be before they take it away from us?

  19. Gotta agree with you and Jeff Coole. An amazing value in bourbon…nice, complex yet balanced flavor, a pleasure to drink neat. Nice bite but smooth finish, pleasant on all parts of the palate. Thanks for pointing us to it!

  20. Yeahhhh buddy, dude working at the store suggested this one, I was in and out so fast and only paid $22! Definitely has a spicy kick, so I enjoy it more with a splash of water, or ice.

  21. […] OVERALL Clyde May’s Bourbon has a nice balance, especially to the aroma with the sweet and rustic notes aligning nicely. The palate is a bit heavier on the rustic notes, which I like, and after awhile the peanut notes on the palate grow and become even more pronounced. Overall it reminds me quite a bit of Henry McKenna, like it’s the missing link between Henry McKenna and the Henry McKenna 10 year Single Barrel Bottled In Bond. […]

  22. My local Pavilions by the equestrian canter in Burbank just got this in. They have a great selection of spirits. I’ve heard of Henry MeKenna and had to try it. The first sip is always the best and it was AMAZING! Great bold flavor but with a smooth finish. Different but the same in alot of ways to my daily go to, Knob Creek. And to top it off, the price was very resonable. Great Bourbon Whiskey.

  23. Fairly New to the Bourbon drinking, but have been trying to find my “taste” so to speak. So far I have had Woodford Reserve, Bulleit (both reg and rye), Rittenhouse BiB Rye, Blanton’s SB, and this Henry McKenna along with a few other random ones that were not good enough to remember. ( I have a bottle of Old Forester 1897 BiB too, but have not opened it yet)…. I have to say that by far the Henry McKenna is my favorite and my wife is very happy at it’s price. In my area I was able to grab it for $22. Being a SB and a 100 proof for this price I don’t know that I’ll ever find a better price to flavor value. Great Stuff!

  24. I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this one before, but if you ever do a list of top QPR whiskeys, this and Buffalo Trace are on it. Each one could command a price table $10 higher, and no one would complain. I can’t believe this is a sub-$30 bottle.

  25. I’m with G-Diddy on this one. I found out about this Bourbon from this review sometime last year, and man am I glad that I did. This, along with Buffalo Trace are my go-to bourbons. I try to branch out and try a lot of more expensive bourbons, but I rarely ever find anything that I like better than this. A hell of a steal at sub $30.

    Thanks to Josh for opening my eyes to such a great bourbon!

  26. I like this bourbon a lot. this is always stocked for me, and I’m always looking for different barrels of it. I find it changes so much between barrels, some just outstanding but all of them delicious. great deal < $30

  27. My goodness, what a treasure! I stumbled onto a bottle of McKenna Bourbon a friend brought into my liquor store. Magnificently good for a cheap bottle. I couldn’t order this one, but Utah carries the McKenna Single Barrel, so I ordered it. It is just as you perceived. Spicy and woody. The Evan Williams Single Barrel was my previous preference in single barrels I’ve tried. This is so bold and woody. Time will tell. I just opened my second bottle which we compared side-by-side. It was barreled a year prior, so one year older. The difference was remarkable. A bigger difference than I’ve ever noticed in different barrels of single barrel whisky. Both were remarkably good but the newer barrel was notably better. Bigger and more robust.

  28. Hey Josh. I just picked up a bottle of this after finishing a bottle of Rebel Yell 10yr Old Single Barrel. Almost cried. As a replacement this isn’t quite as good but I still love it. There’s a lot going on here but love the natural order this one presents. Tons of sweet oak up front and I’m getting a huge dose of spice on the looooooong back end. That Rebel Yell is getting hard to find (I just relocated to Texas) but this is a lot more accessible and affordable. It’s going to find a regular spot in my rotation. Mazel Tov.

    Bryce

  29. I am far from an aficionado, just a guy that has always enjoyed a bit of bourbon and recently decided to expand his horizons from the Jim beam line up. But I have to say, this is some fantastic bourbon. I have recently found woodford reserve double oaked to be my jam. Unfortunately, the WR double oaked is priced a bit high for daily drinker duty and I thought I wouldn’t find anything that could compare at a reasonable price for a daily drinker. Don’t get me wrong, the profile between WR double oaked and Henry McKenna BiB is decidedly different but they share one thing in common that I love, a richness of flavor that I have not found anywhere else. At $32 a bottle this has ticked all of the boxes for me for the daily drinker. This is a fantastic display of classic bourbon flavors with a richness you will struggle to find anywhere else. And the finish, Oh my the finish! This doesn’t burn but provides a welcome warming sensation you can feel all the way down to your belly. I’ve tried a lot of things that reviewed well and this is the only one I have tried that lives up to the hype and IMO exceeds it. I wish I could buy this as a handle! This blows eagle rare out of the water! I am hesitant to post this, lest it become the next darling of the secondary market, my area has already started upcharging and pricing it at $37 a bottle, but beginners need to know about this and try it. I hope they can keep up with demand and it doesn’t turn into another Weller 12 yr. Also, for those worried about oakiness, I found the oak to be tremendously well balanced for a 10 yr. and the oak is typically the note I pick up on most.

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