photo credit: HeavenHillDistillery.com


Proof: 100
Age: 10 year old
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distilleries, Bardstown, KY
Master Distiller: Parker and Craig Beam
Season: Fall

4.4 (87.5%) 24 votes


Last night I returned to my favorite watering hole, Silks Jockey Lounge inside of Louisville’s Galt House hotel. At the behest of our bartender Justin, I was introduced to what has been called “Kentucky’s Finest Table Whiskey”, Henry McKenna.

According to Heaven Hill, “Henry McKenna is named for the pioneer who brought his family’s whiskey recipe with him from Ireland in 1837 and founded his U.S. distillery in Fairfield, Kentucky in 1855.  The brand was sold to the Seagram Company in 1941, and then subsequently to Heaven Hill Distilleries.  Heaven Hill launched the Henry McKenna Single Barrel line extension in 1994, and to this day it remains the only extra aged (10 years) Bottled-In-Bond Single Barrel Bourbon available.”

For the past 7 Generations, the Beam family have been the brains behind the bourbon produced at Heaven Hill. The Henry McKenna brand was adopted under the tenure of Parker Beam, and has remained relatively unchanged.

I am a fan of high-proof bourbons, and so I expected great things from Henry McKenna Single Barrel. The brand has kept a lower profile than some of the other single barrel superstars on the shelves today, so my opinion hadn’t been corrupted by marketing messages.

Despite my high expectations (or maybe because of them), the nose gave me pause for cause. Ethyl and char aromas warned me of the potential that this could be a rough, awkward bourbon. On second whiff, orange peel stands out and some bright citrus aromas. Not a smell that you would want floating around your house, but not awful.


The aroma and I didn’t click immediately, but I knew I loved Henry McKenna Single Barrel at first sip. Before I could wince at the tastes of char and smoke, the bourbon relaxed into cherry and honey. The texture was surprisingly smooth for a 100 proof bourbon. The finish was long and pleasant, dissolving into flavors of acorn and pumpkin pie.

It was easy for me to finish my first taste. And my second. And my fifth. I would go so far as to say that this bourbon is dangerously easy to drink, and has all the elements that a real bourbon enthusiast would love.



We base our bourbon grades on three primary factors: the nose, the taste and texture, and the finish of the bourbon. While Henry McKenna scored high marks on the latter two factors, the nose remains its only drawback in my book. We give Henry McKenna Single Barrel a B-.

Find out how we grade bourbons. Henry McKenna Single Barrel is better than well bourbon, a great flavor profile, and a very easy to drink bourbon. Expect to pay around $25 a fifth.

If you are planning on enjoying this bourbon with a meal, either grab a pour before you start eating or save it for desert. We paired our tasting with some wings and salad without spectacular results – even at 100 proof, this whiskey doesn’t stand up against big meats or sauces.

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2018-07-06T05:54:38+00:00May 15th, 2018|B RATED BOURBONS, BOURBON REVIEW|0 Comments

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