In the pantheon of American Whiskey the Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey is rather rare for the simple fact that it’s a wheat whiskey. There are a few other folks out there, like Sonoma, that make a wheat whiskey, but they’re few and far between. It’s a soft and nuanced grain and on it’s own doesn’t have the punch of flavor that rye and corn have so it’s not often used as the primary grain, but if you’ve had the 2014 Parker’s Heritage release then you know that with some aging it can pick up a ton of flavor from the barrel and pack a whollop.
However, here at what’s probably 4 years (legal minimum to be called straight and not carry an age statement) it’s a little light. It’s not bad, just a little light, but if you stick with TWJ this week we’ll be going through all three of the Bernheim Wheat Whiskey expressions. Spoiler alert, the 7 year is a marked improvement over this the NAS version.
Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey Review
Age: NAS (likely 4 years)
Distiller: Heaven Hill
Mashbill: At least 51% wheat with the rest being corn and malt
Caramel, citrus (pineapple) and a wheat driven sweetness lead to a bit of dark fruit, butterscotch and mint. Some light notes of wood move about with some grain, wheat toast and a light bit of cinnamon. Nice for what it is, but not deeply complex.
The caramel gets a bit syrupy on the nose and picks up bits of grain, vanilla and citrus peel. The wheat toast and cinnamon from the nose come back, but on the whole it’s a bit less complex than the nose.
Wheat toast, caramel, vanilla, wood and raw grains on a medium fade.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
It has a nice balance between everything and a thin watery body that burns more than it should.
When I took my first sniff I immediately thought of Rebel Yell, same with the first sip. All around it has a bourbon character to it, but it’s not a nice rich bourbon character, more like a weak and watery one… like Rebel Yell. Nothing wrong with it, just really light, but interesting stuff nonetheless. Just not one I’m clambering to have on a daily basis.