Wheat Whiskeys to Add to Your CollectionsBy Stephanie Moreno
If you’re a fan of wheated bourbon—i.e. Pappy Van Winkle, Weller and Maker’s Mark, to name a few—chances are you’ll also like wheat whiskeys. Both share many production requirements, but differ with regards to mash bill recipes. Wheated bourbons still have to use at least 51% corn, so generally only 18% or so of the mash bill will be wheat. As for wheat whiskey, they need at least 51% wheat in their mash bills, then corn and malted barley generally take up the remaining balance.
Wheat whiskeys tend to display gentle sweetness and toasted cereal notes which make them extremely approachable to the new whiskey drinker. However, there’s enough character in them to make even the most seasoned aficionado to sit up and take notice. These picks below are great wheat whiskeys to add to your collections.
First introduced into the market in 2005, this is the first wheat whiskey to be released in the US. The mash bill is predominantly winter wheat with corn and malted barley taking supporting roles. Recently (spring 2014) this whiskey went from having no age statement to having one of 7 years—quite the reverse of what other large whiskey brands seem to be doing.
Sweet & Fruity
Dry Fly is the brainchild of Don Poffenroth and Kent Fleischmann. The pair set out to create whiskey that celebrates the beauty of the country surrounding their fishing spot in Spokane, Washington. The wheat is sourced from local family farms. Following a double distillation, the wheat mash is aged in 53-gallon new American oak barrels with a #3 char for three years.
Sweet & Rich
Introduced in 2019, Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey is made with a four-grain mash bill. With wheat comprising the majority (52%), the other grains used are: malted barley (21%), corn (18%) and rye (8%). Crafted by Master Distiller Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey is bottled at 90.4 proof.
Vanilla & Rich
Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, New York, owned by distiller Monte Sachs, is near the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. The distillery uses water from the Catskill Mountains and locally grown grains. Catskill Whiskey Company’s spirits are craft distilled and small batch. Fearless Wheat Whiskey is bottled at 42.5% ABV.
KO Distilling launched a cask strength edition of its Bare Knuckle straight wheat whiskey at the end of 2018. With a minimum of two years maturation in full-size barrels, the whiskey is comprised of a 60% wheat, 30% rye and 10% malted barley mash bill, made entirely from Virginia-grown grains. The label features Irish-American prizefighter Jimmy Gardner, circa 1910.
Vanilla & Full-Bodied
The third release in the brand’s series of wheat whiskeys was released in May 2021. It’s made with 100% Soft White Centennial Wheat grown in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado by Jason Cody, of the Cody Family Farm and Colorado Malting Company. The whiskey’s mash bill features both raw and malted centennial wheat that is then aged in fourteen hand-selected barrels produced at Laws Whiskey House in the summer of 2015. The liquid is aged for a total of five years eight months before it is bottled at 50% ABV.
Vanilla & Sweet
Old Elk Straight Wheat Whiskey is made with a mash bill of 95% soft red winter wheat and 5% malted barley. It’s aged for 5 years and bottled at 50% ABV using a slow-cut proofing — adding Colorado mountain water to bring the bourbon to bottling proof over weeks instead of days.
Full Bodied & Spicy
Iowa’s Cedar Ridge entered the whiskey world in the most logical possible way — bourbon made from Iowa corn. Since then, they’ve expanded their portfolio, including this Wheat Whiskey, which is made from 100% malted winter wheat. Made in small batches and hand-numbered on the label, the whiskey has been aged for two years in American oak barrels.