Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey


45% ABV, $20

Since I’m tasting alternative whiskeys to bourbon, I thought I’d continue with a small batch wheat whiskey from Heaven Hill, produced at the Bernheim Distillery.  Being a straight wheat whiskey means that Bernheim Original is distilled from a mash of at least 51% wheat and aged for at least 2 years in new charred oak barrels.  Prices range up to the high twenties, but I can find store selections for $20 for the past year or so.

The nose reveals that there’s got to still be a pretty good corn component.  I smell caramel, straw, sweet corn, sweet tobacco and dark cherries amidst a mild alcohol burn. A drop of water accents the tobacco a bit.

The taste is of vanilla, caramel, straw, honey, candied cherries, ginger, plum and pear.  The finish lingers nicely and is fairly spicy with black pepper and ginger and has a leathery feel that fades reasonably quickly.  After adding just a drop of water, the whiskey takes on a sweeter profile with less spice on the finish.  The only new flavor I detect is lemon drop, but the flavors blend together more than before and the leathery mouthfeel and mild wood on the finish remain.

This isn’t a very complex whiskey, but it’s a solid one with a nice mouthfeel and a good balance of fruit, candy and spice flavors to make things interesting, while finishing with enough wood presence to show some age.  I also like the fact that it gives me a bit of insight into wheated bourbons, by showcasing the wheat a bit more.  This is a regular bottle, but I have a store selection that I’ll taste at some point in the not-too-distant future for comparison.  At $20, you can’t go wrong by trying it out, but it’s worth the experience even at $28.

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2 thoughts on “Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey

  1. Mark as you know a number of our posters have engaged in blending experiments. So far the corn component has been represented by Mellow Corn (90% corn), rye by Bulleit (95% rye). Can you recommend a wheat whiskey with a similar high percentage of wheat (and that is affordable)?


    • Bernheim isn’t high wheat percentage, but it’s the best and most affordable wheat whiskey that I know of. Take into account that it’s got a lot of corn as well when blending. You’re also going to end up with a 4 grain blend, since the others have rye in the mash bill.

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