Wheated Bourbon

Wheated Bourbon: A Guide to Flavor and Distinct Taste

Wheated bourbon has been gaining popularity among whiskey enthusiasts and connoisseurs, setting itself apart from traditional bourbon through its unique recipe and flavor profile. This type of bourbon is made from a mash bill containing at least 51% corn and 20% wheat, replacing the rye that is typically found in traditional bourbon recipes. The result is a distinctly smooth and sweet whiskey that has garnered a dedicated following.

The softer, sweeter profile of wheated bourbon can be attributed to the wheat used in its production, which creates a more mellow taste when compared to other bourbons. This makes wheated bourbon an ideal choice for those new to the world of whiskey or those looking to try a different style. As wheated bourbon becomes more popular, many leading brands and craft distilleries are producing their own unique offerings, each with its own distinct characteristics and flavors.

Key Takeaways

  • Wheated bourbon is a type of whiskey with a mash bill containing at least 51% corn and 20% wheat, resulting in a smoother, sweeter flavor
  • This whiskey style caters to a wide variety of preferences, from newcomers to seasoned enthusiasts
  • With its unique characteristics, wheated bourbon has a growing following, inspiring many leading brands and craft distilleries to create their own distinctive offerings

The Basics of Wheated Bourbon


 Video Credit: Beginning Bourbon

Wheated bourbon is a unique and flavorful subcategory of bourbon whiskey. By definition, all bourbon must contain at least 51% corn in its mash bill, which is the mixture of grains used during the whiskey-making process. The remaining 49% typically consists of barley and rye, but in the case of wheated bourbon, the rye is replaced with wheat. This variation gives wheated bourbon a distinct profile and sets it apart from traditional bourbon.

The substitution of wheat for rye in the mash bill has a significant effect on the whiskey's flavor and texture. Wheat is a softer and sweeter grain compared to rye, which imparts a spicier and more robust flavor. As a result, wheated bourbon tends to have a smoother, more delicate taste, making it an appealing option for those who prefer a gentler whiskey experience.

In terms of production, wheated bourbon follows the same legal requirements as other bourbon whiskeys. It must be distilled at no more than 160 proof (80% ABV), aged in new, charred oak containers, and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof (40% ABV). By adhering to these standards, distillers ensure that their wheated bourbon maintains the quality and characteristics expected of bourbon whiskey.

A few notable brands produce wheated bourbon, offering consumers a chance to experience different expressions of this delightful whiskey variation. From the highly sought-after Weller Special Reserve to other exceptional examples like Old Elk Distillery, there's a wheated bourbon out there for every palate. Whether you're a seasoned bourbon enthusiast or just discovering the world of whiskey, wheated bourbon is a worthy addition to your explorations.

Distinguishing Features of Wheated Bourbon

Wheated bourbon is a unique type of whiskey that stands out due to its specific ingredients and flavor profile. The primary distinction between wheated bourbon and other bourbons is the secondary grain used in its mashbill. While traditional bourbons use rye as the secondary grain, wheated bourbon utilizes wheat. This substitution significantly impacts the taste and overall drinking experience.

One of the main characteristics of wheated bourbon is its soft, smooth, and mellow nature. The absence of rye allows the gentle flavors of wheat to shine through, making it more approachable for those who might be sensitive to the spiciness of rye-based bourbons. The sweeter attributes of wheated bourbon come from the interplay between wheat and corn, the two main components in its mashbill.

Wheated bourbon is known for its unique flavor profile that features sweet notes of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. These flavors contribute to the overall richness and complexity of the whiskey, making it a highly sought-after spirit among bourbon enthusiasts. The smoothness of wheated bourbon, in combination with its complex and rich flavors, creates a delightful whiskey worth exploring for both new and experienced drinkers.

In summary, wheated bourbon distinguishes itself from other bourbons through its use of wheat as a secondary grain rather than rye. This shift in ingredients leads to a soft, smooth, and mellow whiskey with a unique flavor profile that emphasizes sweet flavors such as vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar.

Leading Wheated Bourbon Brands

Wheated bourbon has gained popularity over the years due to its milder and sweeter flavor profile. This is achieved by replacing rye with wheat in the mash bill, creating a smooth and easy-to-drink whiskey. A variety of brands excel in wheated bourbons, and some notable ones are as follows.

Maker's Mark is a well-established brand in the bourbon industry, known for its consistent quality and taste. Its classic offering and its Maker's Mark Cask Strength variant are popular choices for those seeking a quality wheated bourbon experience.

Pappy Van Winkle is perhaps one of the most sought-after wheated bourbons on the market. Its exclusivity contributes to its appeal; however, the taste and quality of the whiskey are what truly make it a standout option.

Weller Special Reserve is another label under the Buffalo Trace Distillery, utilizing their expertise to create a smooth, easy-to-drink wheated bourbon. This whiskey is perfect for those new to wheated bourbons, offering a well-rounded taste profile.

Larceny and Old Fitzgerald are two prominent offerings from the Heaven Hill Distillery. While Larceny is an affordable entry point for those looking to try wheated bourbon, Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond is a higher-end option that focuses on quality and complexity.

Redemption Wheated Bourbon, 1792 Sweet Wheat, and Wyoming Whiskey are all notable brands offering a unique take on wheated bourbon. Each brings its distinct flavor profile and characteristics to the table, showcasing the versatility of wheated bourbons.

McKenzie Bottled-in-Bond Wheated Bourbon Whiskey and Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon are strong contenders for those who appreciate small-batch whiskey production. Both brands emphasize quality and craft production methods, delivering whiskey experiences that stand out from the crowd.

Other brands, such as Rebel Yell, Old Elk Wheated Bourbon, and William Larue Weller, also offer distinctive wheated bourbon experiences for those looking to explore this whiskey category further. With the options available, whiskey enthusiasts have a wide range of wheated bourbons to choose from, each one with its unique flavor profile and story.

Additionally, it is essential to mention the role of distilleries like Stitzel-Weller, Sazerac, and MGP in the overall development and production of wheated bourbon brands. These distilleries have been instrumental in shaping the landscape of this whiskey category.

In conclusion, wheated bourbons offer an enticing alternative to traditional bourbon whiskies. With a diverse lineup of brands and offerings, whiskey enthusiasts have many options to explore and enjoy this unique style of bourbon.

Comparison of Wheated Bourbon to Other Whiskeys

Wheated bourbon, as the name suggests, is a type of bourbon that uses wheat as its secondary flavoring grain in the mash bill, instead of the more common rye. This type of whiskey, which includes the famous Pappy Van Winkle, offers a smoother, subtler flavor profile compared to other types of whiskey, like rye whiskey or scotch.

Rye whiskey, on the other hand, uses rye as its primary flavoring grain, which results in a spicier, bolder taste. This distinct flavor profile makes rye whiskey an excellent choice for those who enjoy a more robust sipping experience. Rye whiskey must contain at least 51% rye in its mash bill, while bourbon, including wheated bourbon, must contain at least 51% corn.

Scotch whiskey, produced in Scotland, is another whiskey variety that has its unique characteristics. Made primarily from malted barley, scotch tends to have a smoky, peaty flavor due to the use of peat in the drying process. While the taste varies depending on the region it's produced in, scotch generally offers a more complex and diverse flavor profile compared to wheated bourbon.

One common thread among these whiskey varieties is the requirement of aging in charred oak barrels. This process enhances the flavor and helps develop the distinct characteristics of each type of whiskey. For example, wooden cork wheated bourbon, like Old Elk Wheated Bourbon, acquires its smooth, mellow taste through the careful aging process in the charred oak barrel.

In summary, wheated bourbon distinguishes itself from other whiskey types due to its use of wheat as the secondary flavoring grain in the mash bill, resulting in a smoother and softer taste. Meanwhile, rye whiskey offers a spicier and more robust flavor, and scotch whiskey is known for its complexity and smokiness. Despite their unique characteristics, all these whiskey varieties share the common aging process in charred oak barrels, which helps define their distinct flavors.

Aging Process of Wheated Bourbon

Wheated bourbon, like all other bourbons, is required by law to consist of at least 51% corn and be aged in newly charred American oak barrels. The primary difference between wheated bourbon and its counterparts is the replacement of rye with wheat in the mash bill, either in whole or part. This change alters the flavor profile and ultimately the aging process.

The aging process of wheated bourbon is influenced by the interaction between the whiskey and the charred oak cask. American white oak is the most commonly used wood for bourbon barrels, as it imparts a unique combination of flavors to the spirit. The wood aging process involves exposure to the charred oak, which creates the characteristic look, smell, and taste associated with bourbon, including wheated bourbon.

As wheat is less flavorful than rye, it allows more of the corn's sweetness and vanilla from the barrel to come through in the final product. Some believe that wheat retains its flavor over the course of extreme aging, which can range from 10 to 20 years. This extended aging process for wheated bourbon helps to develop a smoother, more complex flavor profile as it interacts with the cask. It should be noted that to be classified as straight bourbon whiskey, the spirit must be aged for at least two years, and bottled-in-bond bourbons require a minimum of four years of aging.

During the aging process, factors such as the charred oak, cask strength, and mash bill composition of corn, wheat, and malted barley all play critical roles in shaping the final product. Distillers carefully monitor the aging process and make adjustments as necessary, ensuring that the wheated bourbon reaches its optimal maturity before bottling.

In conclusion, the aging process of wheated bourbon involves a series of complex interactions between the whiskey and the charred oak barrel, with the replacement of rye with wheat in the mash bill playing a key role in its unique flavor profile. Through careful monitoring and adjustments by distillers, this spirit continues to be a popular choice for whiskey connoisseurs.

Choosing and Evaluating Wheated Bourbons

In the world of bourbon, wheated bourbons stand out for their distinct flavor profile, which often features a smoother and sweeter taste. By replacing the more common rye grain with wheat in the mash bill, these bourbons offer a unique tasting experience for enthusiasts and newcomers alike. To truly appreciate wheated bourbons, there are several factors to keep in mind, such as price, approachability, and the different aromas and flavors present in each bottle.

When evaluating wheated bourbons, the price can be an important factor. While there are many premium options such as Pappy Van Winkle or Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond, there are also more affordable choices without sacrificing quality, such as W.L. Weller Special Reserve or Redemption Wheated Bourbon. A general guideline would be to select a bourbon within your budget while considering factors like age, rarity, and reputation.

Approachability is another crucial aspect of choosing the right wheated bourbon. For beginners, Redemption Wheated Bourbon or Weller Special Reserve can serve as excellent starting points, while more experienced drinkers might enjoy the complexity of Maker's Mark Cask Strength or Larceny Barrel Proof. Understanding your palate preferences and the level of sophistication you seek in a bourbon will help guide your decision-making process.

The unique aromas and flavors are what truly distinguish wheated bourbons from their rye counterparts. Notable characteristics include leather, charred oak, cinnamon, and spice. While these notes are present in most bourbons, they manifest differently in wheated varieties, often leading to a smoother and less harsh experience. As a result, wheated bourbons are highly approachable while maintaining the classic bourbon essence.

It's essential to take your time tasting and evaluating wheated bourbons, as each distillery produces a unique expression. When sampling a new bourbon, pay close attention to the nose and palate, seeking out the individual aromas and flavors that make it special. By understanding the nuances between different bottles, you'll have a greater appreciation for the wide spectrum of wheated bourbon offerings available.

In conclusion, when choosing and evaluating wheated bourbons, consider factors such as price, approachability, and the various aromas and flavors present. Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast or a first-time bourbon drinker, the world of wheated bourbons offers an enjoyable and diverse array of options.

Enjoying Wheated Bourbon

Wheated bourbons are renowned for their smooth, sweet, and approachable flavors, making them an excellent choice for both newcomers and seasoned whiskey enthusiasts. In this section, we'll explore some popular ways to enjoy wheated bourbon, as well as cocktail recommendations that showcase the unique characteristics of sweeter bourbons.

Wheated bourbon is a delightful sipper, enjoyed neat or with a single ice cube to open up the flavors. Its signature sweetness and milder taste profile lends itself to a more relaxed and refined drinking experience. When served neat or on the rocks, wheated bourbon's smoothness and subtle complexity stand out, inviting you to savor each sip.

For those who prefer a classic cocktail, wheated bourbon pairs exceptionally well with timeless drinks such as the Old Fashioned. The natural sweetness of the bourbon complements the sugar and bitters, creating a well-balanced and smooth cocktail. The Old Fashioned showcases the rich flavors of wheated bourbon while adding a touch of depth and complexity to the drink.

Similarly, a Boulevardier offers another avenue to explore the world of wheated bourbons in cocktails. Traditionally made with rye whiskey or traditional bourbon, substituting a wheated bourbon yields a softer, sweeter twist on this perennial favorite. The mellow sweetness of the wheated bourbon melds seamlessly with the Campari and sweet vermouth, creating a cocktail that is both familiar and uniquely gratifying.

When shopping for a sweet wheated bourbon, some excellent options include W.L. Weller Special Reserve, Redemption Wheated Bourbon, and Larceny Barrel Proof. These offerings cover various price points and styles, ensuring that everyone can find a wheated bourbon that suits their palate and preferences.

In summary, wheated bourbon shines both on its own and as a key component in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Boulevardier. Embrace the sweeter side of bourbon by exploring the delightful world of wheated whiskies, and enjoy the nuanced flavors they bring to any drinking experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best budget options for wheated bourbons?

There are several affordable options for those looking to try wheated bourbons without breaking the bank. Some of the best budget-friendly wheated bourbons include Maker's Mark, Larceny Bourbon, and Weller Special Reserve. These bourbons offer a great introduction to the unique flavor profile of wheated options and are widely available at reasonable price points.

How does the taste of wheated bourbon differ from non-wheated?

Wheated bourbons are known for their smoother, sweeter flavor profiles compared to traditional bourbons, which often contain a higher percentage of rye in their mash bills. The rye in non-wheated bourbons imparts spicier notes, while the wheat in wheated bourbons contributes a softer, rounder sweetness. The result is a more approachable, easy-drinking bourbon that many whiskey enthusiasts and newcomers alike find enjoyable.

What are some top-rated wheated bourbons according to Reddit?

Reddit is a popular platform for whiskey enthusiasts to discuss and recommend their favorite wheated bourbons. Some of the top-rated options frequently mentioned on the site include W.L. Weller 12-Year, Maker's Mark Cask Strength, and Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series. These bourbons are praised for their unique flavor profiles, balance, and overall quality.

Which highly-regarded wheated bourbons are under $100?

While many high-quality wheated bourbons can be quite expensive, there are still options that offer great value for under $100. Some examples of highly-regarded wheated bourbons within this price range include Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series, Rebel Yell 100 Proof, and Hancock's President's Reserve. These selections provide a great opportunity to experience the exceptional flavors and characteristics of wheated bourbons without breaking the bank.

What makes wheated bourbon appealing to enthusiasts?

Wheated bourbon's appeal largely lies in its unique flavor profile. The absence of rye in the mash bill and the substitution of wheat create a smoother, sweeter, and often more approachable taste. This makes it a popular choice for both seasoned whiskey enthusiasts and newcomers alike. The distinct flavor of wheated bourbon also makes it an ideal choice for sipping neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails.

How do wheated whiskey and wheated bourbon differ?

The primary difference between wheated whiskey and wheated bourbon lies in their mash bill compositions. Wheated bourbon must contain at least 51% corn, with wheat being a significant component in the remaining grain content. On the other hand, wheated whiskey must be made from at least 51% wheat, with corn and other grains making up the remainder. Both wheated whiskey and wheated bourbon are aged in new, charred oak containers, but the higher wheat content in wheated whiskey results in a different flavor profile compared to wheated bourbon.

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