Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey Review
90 proof Kentucky straight wheat whiskey
Typical Price: About $40 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Slogan: "Kentucky's Spirit of Innovation"
Initial Thoughts: If you're not interested in whiskey, it might be easy to wonder what's all the hubbub about Bernheim Original Wheat. "Sure," you might say, "nobody else is making it, and it probably hasn't been made since before Prohibition. But how much difference can it really make?" In fact, we might have been asking ourselves the same question a few short days ago, but now that we've tried Bernheim we know the answer...it's all about the wheat, baby!
At first blush, there doesn't seem to be too much difference between Bernheim and your typical craft Bourbon. The distillation process is similar, the crafters use the same process, and it’s not aged significantly more than a lot of other whiskeys (about five years, if you're interested). But when you pull it out of its protective little cardboard box, you start to notice the uniqueness.
When we slipped the cork out of the neck of the bottle - we have to admit, we're suckers for any whiskey that's corked instead of capped, for reasons we can't even figure out ourselves - we thought we were prepared for anything. What we weren't prepared for was the sweet, delicate aroma that wafted from the neck of the bottle...we'd expected something much more hearty. In the glass it offered up a much lighter color than we'd expected as well, somewhere between the peaty yellow of Scotch and the molasses brown of Bourbon.
When we tasted it, the flavor was surprisingly light and dry, almost refreshing. We want to say it was sweet, with honey undertones, but it wasn't syrupy at all. The flavor also hinted at nuts, with a trace of some fall fruits, and it was incredibly dry, and didn't coat our tongue like some similar whiskeys might. Once we added a small splash of water, the dryness intensified and became even more crisp.
Cocktail Recipes: N/A. We're sure Bernheim would taste great in cocktails, but we recommend it straight, with a splash of water, or on the rocks.
Finishing Thoughts: We've had whiskey that contained wheat before, because a lot of Bourbons and other American whiskeys use it in their mash, but as we said before this is the only whiskey currently on the market that utilizes wheat as the primary ingredient. We were extremely impressed with it, and we think it can hold its own against pretty much any other American whiskey we've tried. It's tasty, it's craft-distilled, it's unique, and we're still impressed with that dry finish. We think it would make a great gift for any whiskey drinker on your list, especially if they've expressed an interest in trying something different.
Read more about Bernheim wheat, along with profiles of corn and rye whiskeys, in our earlier story: Whiskey Alternatives: Corn, Rye and Wheat.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at December 8, 2005 6:17 AM