From our Distiller...Wheat Whiskey
Wheat whiskey. Wait, wheat what? Never heard of wheat whiskey? Well, that is no surprise as there are very few commercially available examples out there. To be called a “wheat whiskey”, it must contain at least 51% wheat. There is only one major brand that is widely available and that is Bernheim, made by Heaven Hill. There are more and more craft distilleries coming out with a wheat whiskey, but these still lag far behind ryes and bourbons. You might not be aware, but there are some bourbons out there with an extra bit of wheat in them, and this has a significant impact on their flavor. The most prominent bourbon of this style is Maker’s Mark. Perhaps the most famous and sought after bourbon out there is Pappy Van Winkle, and guess what, it is a high wheat bourbon!
So what does wheat bring to the party? The answer: texture. Wheat is a bit more subtle in flavor than corn, and certainly when compared to rye. While wheat might not provide a burst of flavor compared to the other grains, it more than makes up for this in terms of body. The wheat is what makes Maker’s Mark so smooth and silky, with a long pleasant finish. Wheat whiskeys and wheated bourbons are more subtle and softer in flavor than their cousins. This makes them perfect to enjoy simply neat, or on the rocks. They work well in a cocktail too, but be careful with strongly flavored mixers as these can overpower the subtle, mild flavors of the wheat.
We hope to have barrel-aged wheat whiskey by the summer of 2016, possibly sooner. The samples we tested at six months in the barrel are progressing very nicely with some real nice caramel notes. We are working on submitting our labels for this (and the other whiskeys) and once we get those approved, we can legally let folks taste the whiskey when we pull samples to check on its aging progress. Until then you can enjoy the un-aged version, the Silver Hare, white wheat whiskey. This is in fact my favorite of our white whiskeys. As outlined above, what it lacks in flavor punch, it more than makes up for with texture. It is soft and silky on the tongue and has a long finish with a hint of licorice. So, if you are looking to try something a little different, give some wheat a chance!
-Philip Jensen, Head Distiller