To Wheat or Not To Wheat?–What a Great Question!

wheat_lgI’ve been spending a lot of time lately learning about the virtues of Bourbon.  True this is a whiskey web site, and eventually I will branch out into different types of whiskey, but I have begun this journey with Bourbon whiskey and I have learned a great deal, and tasted some pretty awesome spirits.  To date even the “bad” bourbon I have tasted is to my liking, just others are better.  That is true in every case except the very first review I did on this site which was for Makers Mark Bourbon Whiskey.  Makers is what the people in Bourbon circles refer to as a Wheater.  That is a Bourbon that has replaced the Rye in the mash that gets fermented and distilled with wheat.

There are three grains that go into Bourbon, Corn, Barley, and either Rye or Wheat. This makes up the Mash Bill or recipe for the bourbon.  There seems to be a little confusion on the rye and wheat proportions.  Things  gets a little fuzzy on what actually constitutes a “Wheat Bourbon”, because some seem to mix both wheat and rye, where others eliminate the rye and use wheat alone.  No matter though, lets just say if there is wheat in the mash, it is a wheater. So what about the taste? This is where I get a little concerned…Makers

So the bourbon that started this whole line of questioning for me was Makers Mark.  It is a very popular wheat bourbon that I haven’t really cared for.  I was thinking that because I didn’t like Makers Mark, that I didn’t like wheat bourbon.  Then I posted the question on some bourbon blogs and found that many people love wheat bourbon.  Could I be wrong?  Just because I thought Makers tasted like drinking frooldfitzgerald2m the tank of my Dodge Truck, maybe all wheat bourbons aren’t that way. So this will be a season of discovery ( happens to coincide with the 2009 football season).

I’ve been getting advice  on good Wheaters to try and I am going to approach it with an open mind.  I will probably begin with some of the cheaper brands like Old Fitzgerald and then perhaps move into more expensive types like Old Weller Antique 7 year old 107 proof.

Old Weller AntiqueSo lets hear from you.  What are your thoughts on Wheat Bourbons?  Are they worth my time, or do they all taste like 89 octane ethyl?  With so many people that spoke up in defense of wheaters, I figure there must be something to it.  So this will be my season of discovery, and hopefully a season of great football and the Packers winning the NFC Central!

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4 Comments on “To Wheat or Not To Wheat?–What a Great Question!”

  1. nostawetan
    September 24, 2009 at 12:45 am #

    Pappy Van Winkle. 15 year. I can say no more.

  2. Don
    September 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    You could say 20 year old or 23 year old too…

  3. nostawetan
    September 25, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    This is Mike…writing under Nate’s login in again. I have to say that I’ve not had the 23 year. I have had a whole bottle of the 2o year and several of the 15. I personally prefer the 15 year over the 20 for one simple reason…cutting. The 15 year maintains the 51% ABV vs. 20, which has about 47%. That makes all the difference in the world. Even if the price was the exact same (20 year is about 2 1/2 times the price) I would pick the 15 over the 2o every day of the week.

    • Don
      September 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm #


      Good to talk to you again, ever think about getting your own account with your own avatar? Gets a little confusing keeping you two straight! 😉 Sometimes cutting is a good thing too, however. Take for example one of yours and my favorite to date, Knob Creek. It actually comes out of the cask at 108 proof and then they cut it to 100. Cutting Knob actually brings out a fruitier and more floral nose and flavor. So it has its good and bad points. My guess is that they cut it to get rid of some of the characteristics of the barrel char, while still leaving the structure of the whiskey relatively intact. Uncut it might not be as good. But you aren’t unusual that you like some younger juice. A lot of people prefer it.

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