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Soft and Sweet: An overview of wheated whiskey

Wheated Whiskey

Wheated whiskey has been around since the early days of American whiskey distilling. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the distilling industry was thriving and distillers experimented with the grain combinations in their products. Wheat started to be used alongside corn in the mash bill of some bourbons. 

A key figure associated with the rise of wheated whiskey and a household name for many whiskey lovers is Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle. After purchasing the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery in Kentucky in he early 1900s, Van Winkle started producing bourbon with a higher wheat content leading to the creation of the renowned Pappy Van Winkle's family reserve, which, after prohibition, gained a cult-like following that has continued to today, giving it a near-mythical status amongst whiskey enthusiasts.

Why use wheat?
Wheated whiskeys have gained a loyal following among bourbon enthusiasts who appreciate their unique flavor profile. They offer a departure from the traditional bourbon experience, providing a smoother and more approachable sipping whiskey. While not as common as their rye-forward counterparts, wheated whiskeys have seen increased popularity in recent years, leading to a growing number of distilleries experimenting with this grain combination to create their own distinctive expressions.

Wheated whisky vs. wheated bourbon
The terms "wheated bourbon" and "wheated whiskey" are often used interchangeably, as both refer to a type of whiskey that utilizes wheat as the secondary grain in the mash bill. However, there can be a slight technical distinction between the two. Bourbon is a specific type of whiskey that has legal requirements for its production. Wheated bourbon, therefore, is a bourbon that follows these requirements but replaces some of the traditional rye grain with wheat in its mash bill. On the other hand, wheated whiskey is a broader category that includes whiskeys made with a higher wheat content but may not adhere to all the legal specifications to be labeled as bourbon. In practical terms, however, the distinction between wheated bourbon and wheated whiskey might not have a significant impact on the flavor or experience for the consumer. Both types of whiskey are known for their smoother, sweeter profiles resulting from the use of wheat in the mash bill. 

By Luke Castle

Tags: american whiskey wheated whiskey wheated bourbon whiskey old fashioned cocktail pappy weller pappy van winkle blantons