Wheat-us

Posted 05 July 2017 / In Heaven Hill
The Dramble's tasting notes for  Bernheim Original
Bottle Name: 

Bernheim Original

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Region: USA

I've read that wheat whiskey, whilst something of an oddity nowadays, was originally the dominant grain used in the US and that distilling (oft-times illicit) in New York favoured both wheat and rye a long time before corn even came on the scene. Bernheim is a seven year old whiskey made from 'soft winter wheat'. Unlike 'wheater' bottlings (such as Larceny, Pappy Van Winkle Weller etc), Bernheim doesn't use its wheat as a simple flavour addition as one might do so with rye - instead, this bottling is 51% wheat to begin with. 

With a mash bill of 51% Wheat, 37% Corn, 12% Malted Barley and seven years of age, Bernheim I believe is the only straight wheat American whiskey currently available. I guess the nearest thing would come from Canada in the form of Masterson's 12 year old straight wheat whiskey. 

Nose: Intriguing and with some different notes that one might not associate typically with American whiskey. Buttered popcorn partying on down with a good quality instant coffee provide both the rich and sweet notes as well as the deeper earthy ones. Leather, icing sugar, nutmet and allspice bring up the rear.

Taste:
Fudge and butterscotch, golden syrup, honeycomb, vanilla custard. This all sounds like a dessert gone mental, but the flavours of pepper, cinnamon and fresh sappy oak bring this back to reality in to something much more deftly balanced than my flavour selections can describe.

Finish: Medium-long and quite astringent with cloves and pepper. Fades nicely into a pleasant earthy dustiness.

 

Both distinctive and well-made. Lighter than many American whiskeys with wood spice adding a complexity rather than being a driving force. Great balance meets interesting flavours. However, there's quite the price differential with this bottle depending on where you are in the world. I've seen this for $25-$30 in the US, whereas in the UK you're talking around £60 ($77) - that's an insane markup, even once you've factored in importing and tax.

Score: 86/100

Master of Malt
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