Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Review

Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Review

(photos by Brandon Chesbro: Outsider)

Heaven Hill Distillery is behind some of the best bourbon brands in the world, including Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald, Evan Williams, Larceny, Bernheim Original, and more.

For today’s tasting, we’re sampling a bottle of Heaven Hill’s Henry McKenna. Aged 10 years and Bottled-in-Bond, Henry McKenna had a sticker price of around $30 just a few years ago, making it a helluva steal. But times have changed, notably after a “Best in Show Whiskey” win at the World Spirits Competition in 2019. Now, coupled with the ongoing bourbon craze, Henry is hard to find (and expensive when you do find him). In fact, I saw a bottle in Texas going for $110 a few months ago. Insane.

In Nashville, we paid $55 for the bottle we’re sampling today. Let’s get sipping to see if Henry is still a helluva steal.

At a Glance

  • Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • Location: Bardstown, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Bonded
  • Age: 10 Years
  • Barreled On: 12-28-10 (#10043)
  • Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
  • Proof: 100
  • MSRP: $40
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Henry McKenna 10-Year Single Barrel: What We Say

Noselight alcohol, vanilla, cherry, rye spice, leather
Palateblack pepper, baked pumpernickel bread, red hots, cherry cola, clove
Finishmedium, black pepper, cinnamon
What You Can Expect to Pay$55-$100
Buy It: Now, Soon, Later, NeverSoon
Outsider Rating82/100

The nose on Henry McKenna opens with light alcohol, followed by wafts of vanilla and cherry that coalesce into a Cherry Coke. Hot rye spice and young leather emerge, with just a bit of bitter oak. It’s a nice one-two punch of sweet and spicy.

The palate opens with—bam—black pepper spice all the way down. As the black pepper fades, rye spice surfaces in the form of fresh-baked pumpernickel bread. A bit of chewing evokes red hots candy and some of the cherry cola from the nose. Finally, there’s just a tick of sweet clove. Now, it’s a one-two punch of spicy and sweet (it flip-flopped from the nose).

The medium finish brings a little bit of honey with more black pepper and cinnamon spice. This bottle is spicier than my last one. All in all, it’s enjoyable, but I wouldn’t pay more than $55 for this bottle. And I’m not one to complain about consistency—because I love to be surprised—but McKenna is a crapshoot every time. So if you want consistency from bottle to bottle at a fraction of the price, look below to Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bonded.

What Heaven Hill Says About Henry McKenna

This high proof, Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was named for Henry McKenna, the Irish immigrant who adapted his family’s whiskey recipe to work with the grains he found in Kentucky. Henry McKenna is one of the longest aged Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys available today, resting in the barrel through 40 Kentucky seasons. Critics agree that this is perfectly balanced Bourbon.

This bourbon sips neat. The addition of an ice cube negates a bit of the black pepper spice if you lean toward a sweeter sip where the red hots candy shine.

Go Bonded For Much Less

  • Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond
  • Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • Location: Bardstown, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Bonded
  • Age: 4 Years
  • Proof: 100
  • MSRP: $15

If it’s consistency—and affordability—you seek, Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bonded is your horse. In my opinion, it’s the best sub-$20 bourbon on the market. It’s got plenty of vanilla and black pepper (just like the McKenna) with woodier notes of oak char and cedar. Priced around $15 a bottle, Evan Williams BiB is always a solid score.