Wheated Bourbon Selections for a Soft and Easy PourBy Stephanie Moreno
By now, you probably know the basics of bourbon production. But just to refresh your memory, let’s go over a few rules. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the US; it must be aged in new, charred oak containers; and it must be made with at least 51% corn in its mash bill, among other requirements. With corn being the predominant grain, rye is often the secondary flavoring grain in a bourbon mash bill. But when wheat is used as the flavoring grain instead, it creates a different flavor profile. Wheated bourbon has a soft, round mouthfeel and the wheat grain brings a cracker-like flavor to the mix.
Wheated bourbon is also easygoing and therefore is great for folks just getting their beaks wet in the whiskey world. You may even be a fan of wheated bourbon without knowing it. For example, the much sought after Pappy Van Winkle bourbon lineup consists entirely of wheated bourbon releases. Clearly there’s a taste for it out there (or are folks just trying to buy it because they can’t? Food for thought.). If you’d like to give wheated bourbon a try, see if you can get your hands on some of these releases below. Some are easier to find than others, but each one is worth exploring.
Kentucky Wheated Bourbon Bottles
One of the most popular bourbons out there, Maker’s Mark is a wheated bourbon made with a mash bill of 70% locally-grown corn, 16% red winter wheat and 14% malted barley. This recipe was created by Bill Samuels, Sr. who baked bread with different grains to settle on his mash bill rather than trial and error with distillation. His wife, Margie Samuels, is responsible for the shape of the bottle, the signature label, and the red wax topper. Maker’s Mark is aged in char #3 new American oak barrels for 6-7 years. It is bottled at 90 proof.
Weller Special Reserve is the entry bottling to the Weller portfolio which comes from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. This line is named after William Larue Weller. Born in 1825, Weller was a whiskey pioneer who developed his bourbon recipe with wheat instead of rye. While the Weller portfolio was once known in the inner circles as the Poor Man’s Pappy, word has most certainly gotten out. Even this entry level wheated bourbon is tough to find on shelves let alone the Antique 107 or the 12 Year versions. But bottles do exist. Maybe this is your year?
Rebel Yell is a wheated bourbon brand contract distilled at Heaven Hill Distillery, but owned by Luxco, Inc. It’s been a registered brand since 1936 although the recipe for the bourbon dates back to 1849. Please note there is both an 80 proof and a 100 proof version of this no-age statement bourbon.
This wheated bourbon is a brand extension of Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald line. According to the brand’s story, in the 1870s John E. Fitzgerald used his privilege of holding the keys to Pappy Van Winkle’s bonded warehouse as a treasury agent. He used the keys to steal bourbon from the best casks for himself. These lighter barrels became known as Fitzgerald Barrels. This is why you’ll see keys featured on the label for Larceny. The bourbon bears no-age statement and is bottled at 92 proof. However, for those wanting a bit more bang for your buck, Larceny Barrel Proof is now an option. Like the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases, these will follow the same naming conventions for each batch.
Speaking of Old Fitzgerald, Heaven Hill also has a special bottled-in-bond version it releases biannually. First announced in early 2018, this limited edition series features green labels for spring and black labels for fall. The age varies with each edition and thus far has ranged from 9-15 years. The packaging for these wheated bourbon bottles was inspired by an original 1950s Old Fitzgerald diamond decanter. As bottled-in-bond releases, they are each bottled at 100 proof.
Wheated Bourbon From Around the US
This wheated bourbon comes from Wyoming Whiskey, a grain-to-glass distillery based in Kirby, Wyoming. It is made using a mash bill of corn, wheat and malted barley sourced within 100 miles of the distillery. It’s refreshingly aged in standard 53 gallon oak barrels instead of the much smaller barrels young distilleries tend to use as they help hasten the aging process.
Founded in 2009, Smooth Ambler has released sourced whiskeys, and then sourced whiskeys blended with its own distillate under its label. Released in June 2018, Big Level marked the first whiskey for Smooth Ambler to be 100% distilled in-house in West Virgina. This wheated bourbon release used a mash bill of 71% corn, 21% wheat, and 8% malted barley and it was distilled using continuous column and pot distillation. It was aged for over five years in char #4 53-gallon new, charred American oak barrels. It is bottled without chill-filtration at 100 proof.
Founded in 2006, Treaty Oak Distilling is located in Dripping Springs, Texas just outside Austin. Ghost Hill Bourbon is a wheated bourbon produced from grains sourced at Barton Springs Mill, which is also located in Dripping Springs. The mash bill is 57% yellow Texas No. 1 corn, 32% Texas wheat, and 11% American barley. Distilled at Treaty Oak, the bourbon ages for two years in new American oak with a #3 char level. It’s bottled at 95 proof.
Released in 2018, this straight bourbon from the Florida-based distillery features a mash bill with a fair amount of barley in the mix (60% Florida corn, 18% Florida wheat and 22% malted barley). After aging at least 3 years in 53-gallon new charred oak barrels, the barrels are dumped and blended in small batches of 16-40 barrels. It is bottled at 88 proof without chill filtration.
Ready to grab a bottle of wheated bourbon?
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