Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey

Included in a handful of strict requirements, bourbon must be born of a grain mixture containing at least 51% corn. While the majority of today’s bourbons use rye as the flavor grain, wheated bourbons have been around for quite a number of years (see Makers Mark, the Wellers, and the infamous Van Winkle family).

At 51% wheat, the mash bill of Bernheim Original Straight Wheat Whiskey disqualifies this drink from the bourbon family. (The other 49% is a mixture of corn and malted barley).  What sets this particular drink even further apart is the use of winter wheat. Launched in January 2000 by Heaven Hill Distillery, Bernheim Wheat was dubbed “the first truly new variety of American straight wheat whiskey since Prohibition.”

Heaven Hill ages Bernheim Wheat Whiskey in Rickhouse Y on its property in Bardstown and bottles it when it reaches 7 years of age (soon to be 6).  A selection of the wheat whiskey is aged to 13 years and bottled uncut as Parker's Heritage Collection Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey.

Enough background. It’s brown, it’s beautiful, and I found it in the bourbon section of a Virginia ABC. Let’s give it a taste.

Bernheim Original Straight Wheat Whiskey

Heaven Hill Distillery
Aged 7 years
90 proof
$28 at ABC in Richmond, VA

Color: Soft amber, copper.

Nose: Vanilla, faint butterscotch, waffle. Very subtle.

Tasting Notes: Clean and smooth. Citrus and caramel. Doesn’t offer much flavor, yet somewhat sweeter than I expected. A pleasant but quick finish.

Overall: C+. Lacking the flavor punch of a bourbon and the fire of a scotch, it seems to fall in that middle ground whiskey land. I find it a bit plain for a frequent pour but a nice drink if you’re looking to mix it up.  
Peer reviews: