The first bottle of McKenna 10 Year I had was a random purchase by my wife somewhere around 2014. I had seen the bottle in Whisky Advocate or some other publication that was discussing the comeback of bottled in bond products. I tried finding some and found that it isn’t available in Maine. Luckily, my wife keeps an eye on the bourbon shelves when she travels, and she stopped at a liquor store in Massachusetts on her way home from a conference where she somehow landed on this offering from Heaven Hill. She said it was recommended by the manager–thank you, Liquor Store Manager. I remember diving in head first and being really impressed with the flavor it held and the length of the finish.
Henry McKenna 10 year represents a lot of things in the whiskey world. Sure it’s an award winning bottle that has the ability to vaporize from shelves, but it’s also a ten year old bottled-in-bond single barrel product. While we wouldn’t want to try saying that five times fast, there’s a lot to consider there.
What Heaven Hill has to say about the product:
This high proof, Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was named for Henry McKenna, the Irish immigrant who adapted his family’s whiskey recipe to work 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.
Nose – Some ethanol right up front which brings along some oak and caramel. It’s everything you’d expect in a bourbon, really. There’s vanilla and caramel blending in with a touch of sweetness.
Taste – Pretty quickly it’s obvious that there’s more here than there was on the nose. Honey comes through immediately and jives with sweet fruit and spice. Like…an apple pie with spices but without the apples…and with other less-discernible fruit if that makes any sense.
Finish – The finish is traditional, but long. There is enough heat to provide a nice firm hug and enough flavor to keep the experience rolling. Caramel and honey mix with spice in a lot of great ways. This is a great sipper.
Bourbon Finder Grade: A-
With hang-tags touting awards for the juice inside being ubiquitous these days, it can be hard to see through the marketing BS to find the true gems. For us, single barrel bourbon can sometimes translate into “variability in quality” which may range from “meh” to “hell yes, let’s buy more for the Bourbon Finder Bunker”. That variance could also mean that the particular bottle presented at competition was an exception–rather than a rule–and the offerings on store shelves will not be likely to live up to the hype. If that were truly the case with McKenna 10, it would be sitting on shelves across the nation, which is not the case. This is a highly-rated product for damn good reasons, and at the risk of adding to the hype, and subsequent lack of availability, we’re recommending you buy this any time you see it. It’s that good.
This bottle is available now at Keg N BottleOur grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is. Our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible, and as such we decided early on that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us. We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day. Pour a bit and enjoy, these are the good old days of whiskey!