Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Siz0
- Kind of Spirit:Wheat Whiskey
- Distillery:Heaven Hill Distillery
- Age:2+ years
- Alcohol Percentage:45%
- Aroma:Light Oak
- Average Price:$30
It’s very interesting to find this Berheim Whiskey in the bourbon section of my local spirits store seeing as how it’s not a bourbon. At the same time I guess it’s not all that different from bourbon. In fact it’s something that brand even brags about all over their website. According to their site this whiskey meets all the same criteria as a bourbon, except one. That of course is that the mashbill is not made of at least 51% corn. In fact this Berheim Whiskey is made with at least 51% wheat. Therefore they label this juice as Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey. Honestly, I’ve never seen another bottle bare that sort of statement to it.
After digging through their site some more I came across some interesting info. Craig Beam is the master distiller behind this brand. He said they had the idea to make an wheat whiskey after finishing off some wheated bourbon. So they made the wheat the main flavor grain for this particular juice and he began taste testing at different intervals throughout the aging process. He was pleasantly surprised at 3 and 6 months was even more surprised when the whiskey hit the 3 year mark. We was happy with the product but wanted to give it a bit more age and let it rest for a couple of more years before calling it good.
Now that the juice was ready it was time for the marketing team to go to work. They began claiming this was the First Truly New Whiskey to come out since prohibition. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t who knows. I’m not here to argue that. What I do know is that I’ve never seen a Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey before. So I was excited to pick it up.
Now in the past, I’ve been a big fan of adding some nice flavored wheats to my bourbon. Maker’s Mark & Maker’s 46 are some of my go to bourbons. I know they use a Red Winter Wheat as their flavor grain instead of a higher dose of rye like other bourbons. I haven’t been absolutely blown away by the ‘wheated bourbons’ such as WL Weller 12 and the Antique 107. So it’s anyone’s guess if I’ll enjoy this Bernheim Whiskey, but I’ll tell you what, I’m sure gonna try!
The first thing that attracted me to this Bernheim Whiskey was the bottle. It has a beautiful copper plate on the front that has some wheat & chaffs bundled together and embossed at the top of the plate. Wrapped with the words “Small Batch” it’s a testament to the fact that for this whiskey they blend together 75 barrels to get a distinct flavor profile.
Below the wheat in big black letters is the name Berheim. Named after German immigrant brothers Isaac Wolfe & Bernard Berheim who opened up their own distillery in Louisville. The crafters of this whiskey felt it was only right to name it after them. To round out the copper plate at the bottom embossed is “Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey”, again I’ve never seen this before so it’s a very unique statement and one that definitely drew me in.
The bottle itself is nothing too fancy, it has a very rounded shoulder and looks similar to a gated archway. There is a nice white printing on the side of the bottle that states “Bernheim Original”. It seems a little out of place unless of course they did this to help differentiate itself from other Berheim’s out there? I’m not exactly sure because I haven’t seen another Berheim brand out on the market.
The whiskey inside the bottle is actually quite beautiful itself. It has a nice light goldness to it. You might notice a difference in these pictures, we actually used a white background instead of the usual black one to give the whiskey a more accurate color representation. I’d like to thank a co-worker of mine Nick Waugh for taking these photos he’s a master photographer & videographer and when he saw this bottle wanted to “shoot it”. Being from the South I immediately thought he was talking about taking it outside and firing a rifle at the bottle. However, I was wrong, apparently “shooting” is a photography term. Once I learned that I was more than happy to let him “shoot” this bottle. He did a phenomenal job on these pictures and he might have to do some more for me in the future! Sorry for the derailment… This Bernheim Whiskey has a very bright hue to it. This is probably due to the fact that the wheat is such a lighter looking grain compared to the traditional rye. It keeps this golden look to it that is absolutely gorgeous. Well I think that’s probably enough talking about it, I think it’s time to pour a glass and get into this tasting!
As soon as I open up this Bernheim Whiskey I get an initial rush of alcohol vapors, so I let it sit and air out a bit. Once that initial build up levels off I’m able to pour a glass and really dig in. There are some strong oaky notes up front followed with a hint of vanilla. The hint of vanilla is much softer than most bourbons, the oaky notes are on par with some longer aged bourbons that I’ve had. One thing that I love is that it’s not a punch in the face with that intensity though. It’s a very soft and caressing aroma to it.
The first sip opens up very nicely and I’m greeted with some butterscotch and toffee notes that are just delightful. That toffee note coats the entirety of my tongue and just sits there tingling with a warm richness to it. I wasn’t able to pick up on the berries or spice mint that they mention on their website. I was mostly overwhelmed with the sweetness to this Bernheim Whiskey. It’s incredibly easy on the palate, I would even go as far as to say this could be a nice entry level whiskey for anyone who is anti-whiskey. But let’s face it, if the person is anti-whiskey, we’re probably not talking to them anyway.
For me the finish really sets off this Bernheim Whiskey. After the soft nose and the warm coating flavors on the palate the finish just brings it all together perfectly. There is a nice warm lingering experience with it. There is some soft heat which could keep you warm in the winter, but not set your chest on fire like other bourbons or whiskies out there. Overall a very mild and lingering finish, couldn’t ask for a better way for this whiskey to go out.
Berheim Whiskey: 9/10
With all the great things I’ve said about this whiskey, you probably thought I was going to give it a 10/10. Well it’s hard to do that because I don’t have anything to compare it to. So now I’m on the search for another Wheat Whiskey to see how this one stands up to others in the market. Then I can come back and give a more accurate score, but for never having a wheat whiskey before I’m pretty hung up on this one. So if you’re looking for a little change of pace and want to try the softer side of whiskey. I don’t think you can wrong with this Bernheim Whiskey!