Bourbon alone is one of the most iconic liquors in the world. An American staple, and a truly unique variation on the standard whiskey.
The drink is made by distilling a fermented combination of mashed grains, and plenty of yeast.
What makes Bourbon unique, however, is that it is made using corn, which helps to give it a slightly sweeter taste than standard whiskey!
However, there is another variation of Bourbon which is made using wheat, referred to as “Wheated” Bourbon! But what actually is wheated Bourbon? What makes it so special or unique?
How does it taste? Smell? Look? And how is it made?
It is likely that any combination of these burning questions is currently cycling through your mind right now.
Well, if you’ve been looking for answers to these questions, then you have come to the perfect place because today we are going to set out to answer them all!
Read on down below to read the definitive guide to wheated Bourbons! It has all that you could ever need to know!
What Is Wheated Bourbon?
As a general rule, all standard bourbons must be made up of at least 51% corn included within the distilling mash in order to be officially categorized as a “Bourbon”.
Included amongst that corn is a mixture of barley and rye, both of which help to give the bourbon its unique and iconic sweet flavor.
However, there are some varieties of bourbon that instead choose to replace the rye in the mixture with wheat! This is what leads to wheated bourbon!
This means that wheated bourbon still contains more than 51% corn, which allows it to be categorized as a unique form of bourbon, despite having slightly differing ingredients by omitting others.
What Makes Wheated Bourbon So Unique?
Now, you may likely be wondering what it is exactly that makes wheated bourbon unique, and how adding wheat to the mix changes the experience of the drink.
The most obvious way in which wheat changes standard bourbon is by making it much sweeter.
Wheated bourbon is much sweeter than standard bourbon, which makes it very preferable to many who want a more subtle and less powerful experience.
But how does wheat cause the taste of bourbon to change in such a unique way?
Ordinarily, wheat is not used in making alcohol, because in order for alcohol to be produced, in most cases, starches need to be accessible to yeast which is added to the mix of many alcoholic beverages.
However, it is very difficult for yeast to get access to the starches that are packed into the swathes of protein found in wheat.
Ordinary grains used to make bourbon, like barley and rye are very easy to malt in order to make their starches accessible to yeast.
Wheat, on the other hand, is very difficult to do this with, but it can be done with plenty of work.
This can generally mean that, sometimes, wheated bourbons have a much larger price tag than standard bourbons, which can be very off-putting to many.
How Does Wheated Bourbon Taste?
Wheated bourbon is often favored by people who find standard bourbon a little too intense.
Wheated bourbon is noted for having a much sweeter flavor profile than standard bourbon, thanks to the addition of wheat in the mash bill, in place of rye.
The rye used in standard bourbon tends to give bourbon a slight spiciness.
This spiciness, combined with the strong and sharp flavor of bourbon often makes standard bourbon just a little too intense for some
palatable and smooth. Most who drink wheated bourbon take note of how much smoother it is, and how easy it is to drink down.
Wheat is renowned for its elasticity, which helps to ensure that other ingredients used in fermentation keep their shape, in turn leading to stronger sweet flavors.
Wheated bourbon isn’t just for those that aren’t partial to standard bourbon, however, as even self-proclaimed aficionados of bourbon have a love for the highly unique variation on the standard recipe, noting that the inclusion of wheat helps to create a totally unique flavor experience that still manages to retain much of the original identity of standard bourbon!
What Is The History Of Wheated Bourbon?
So now that we know what makes wheated bourbon so special in comparison to standard bourbon, it would also make sense to take a look at what led to its development!
What led the originators of the drink to swap out the barley in place of wheat?
Standard bourbon was originally created around the late 18th century, though the distinct origins of the drink are hard to pinpoint exactly.
This is because it was believed to have originally been produced by Irish and Scottish settlers in America, and developed as a variation of whiskey that allowed barley and rye to be used in the mix, as well as corn, all of which were heavily harvested, and thus in much easier supply.
The actual name of Bourbon is believed to have derived from the French Bourbon Dynasty, though sources conflict as to when exactly the drink began to take on its standard name!
Wheated bourbon, on the other hand, was created much later. The largely accepted reasoning for why wheated bourbon came about was because of greater access to wheat over rye.
Many frontier cultures across the United States found it much easier to use wheat in place of rye for many recipes, even where rye was largely considered necessary, due to how easy wheat is to grow.
The man believed to have created the first wheated bourbon is William LaRue Weller, and in fact, his name is so important in the world of wheated bourbon that it is still used on the labels of many wheated bourbons still in production to this day.
Ever since Weller first produced some of the earliest recognized wheated bourbons, many have taken the original formula and put numerous interesting spins on it to create wheated bourbons that stand out from the crowd and continue to push the envelope of what wheated bourbon can be.
Its history can largely be distilled down to how easily accessible wheat is, which made it a suitable replacement for rye when producing the mix of ingredients for the distillation process!
Are There Any Other Types Of Bourbon?
Yes. Those that are particularly fond of bourbon have actually categorized a good number of unique varieties of bourbon.
There are three distinct types of bourbon that you will most want to know about in order to truly make sense of the world of bourbon.
The first is standard, or ‘traditional’, bourbon, which is made up of a high percentage of corn, and then a mash bill that is made up of malted barley and plenty of rye grains.
These are the most iconic types of bourbon on the market and are noted partly for their slightly smokier and sharper tastes when compared to other bourbons.
Wheated bourbon, as we have explored, is made by taking a standard bourbon mixture but replacing the rye in the mash bill with wheat, which leads to a much sweeter flavor profile, thanks to how versatile and elastic wheat is when compared to rye.
The third distinct category of bourbon is high-rye bourbon, which is a bourbon that is made up of an incredibly high percentage of rye in the mash bill.
This, of course, leads to a much stronger flavor profile, with a distinct spiciness to it that makes it a favorite of bourbon aficionados who love the flavor of traditional bourbon!
What Are Some Of The Best Wheated Bourbons Around?
If you’ve never tried wheated bourbon yourself before, then reading this article has likely piqued your interest to some degree, and now you want to try one out for yourself, right?
Well, continue reading down below, because we are going to take a look at the very best wheated bourbons around that you can try today!
This is one of the most famous and well-established brands of wheated bourbon around. A large reason why this is the case is that Maker’s Mark specializes in making wheated bourbon accessible to everyone.
Many other brands of wheated bourbon boast large price tags thanks to how much production goes into making a bottle of the product.
This means that Maker’s Mark is a fantastic option if you are someone with very little experience with wheated bourbons who wants to try them out for the first time.
You won’t have to invest an overly significant amount into a drink that you may not even like!
This is another wheated bourbon that is slightly more accessible, making it another fantastic option for anyone looking to have their first experience with wheated bourbon.
However, it often comes with a slightly higher price tag than options like Maker’s Mark.
This brand is often closely associated with the Old Fitzgerald brand, as the two are actually made by the same parent company.
This parent company makes use of a fairly substantial 68 percent corn in all of their bourbon, which of course leads to a much sweeter and slightly more earthy flavor.
This particular brand of wheated bourbon is a fairly recent innovation, first released in 2012, and intended as a direct homage to the ways in which the Fitzgerald bourbon was once used as a medicinal whiskey during the prohibition era!
It tastes rather similar to the Fitzgerald brand of wheated bourbon but has a slightly sweeter flavor profile, which makes it also another great option for anyone looking to try out wheated bourbon for the first time.
Since we’ve taken a look at the brand that borrows much of its identity from the Old Fitzgerald brand, why don’t we now move on to actually give a good look at the Old Fitzgerald itself?
As we mentioned before, the Old Fitzgerald boasts an incredible 68 percent of corn in its mash bill, which helps to give it an incredibly sweet flavor that is practically incomparable to any other wheated bourbon on the market! This can make it a very attractive option to those new to the world of wheated bourbon.
However, unlike many of the options we have explored thus far, Old Fitzgerald is very difficult to get a hold of, thanks to how complex its production process is.
When it is possible to find a bottle of Old Fitzgerald, you should expect to pay a slightly hefty price.
This sum can be rather off putting to those looking for an affordable option or an affordable introduction to such a unique drink.
Garrison Brothers’ Small Batch
This has become a particular modern favorite amongst fans of liquor, thanks to the fact that it has such an incredible taste.
Not only does it boast all of the iconic factors you would expect from any good wheated bourbon, but it also boasts some extra flavors that help to elevate it even further.
A single sip of this bourbon is even more memorable than many other wheated bourbons on the market!
What helps to give this bourbon such a unique flavor is its inclusion of red winter wheat in the mash bill. This gives the bourbon a slightly fiery taste that simply makes it all the more incredible to experience for yourself!
This bourbon is specially crafted in Texas, where the hot climate of the state helps to allow the liquor to really absorb the flavors from the wood that it distills in.
All of these amazing factors in the distilling process help to make this one of the best-crafted wheated bourbons on the market, and definitely something worth trying out for yourself!
Redemption Wheated Bourbon
This is another great option for those that are new to the world of wheated bourbon.
More than 45% of wheat is used in the mash bill to create the drink, which is much higher than the standard and helps to make it one of the very softest bourbons on the market.
This drink glides across your palate and doesn’t have an overly strong and overpowering taste.
Instead, the flavor of this particular bourbon is released very slowly, releasing soft and sweet flavors across your mouth with every single sip, no matter how small.
The drink also does not burn as it goes down, which makes it perfect for anyone that may be totally new to liquors in general!
The unique flavor notes that you may be able to pick out in this bourbon include things like coffee, hazelnut, and black pepper. It’s incredible how well these flavors come together.
The hazelnut provides a sense of creaminess that makes the whole drink so smooth, while the coffee flavor adds some extra sweetness.
Finally, the notes of black pepper add warmth to the drink, but do not become overpowering and become overly spicy!
Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon
Don’t worry, Wyoming Whiskey is simply the brand behind this amazing wheated bourbon.
We were really surprised at how full-bodied this option proved to be, and how immensely satisfying its flavors proved to be.
They worked in combination with each other to such a degree of harmony that it was almost magical.
Best of all, this bourbon is incredibly affordable, especially when compared to some of the most popular options on the market.
We totally loved using this as a larger part of some amazing cocktails, not only thanks to how affordable it proved to be but also because of how well its subtle flavors mixed together with practically everything it mixed with.
This bourbon is a work of art and one that you can easily admire no matter what kind of budget you may be on!
Jefferson’s Ocean Wheated
Jefferson’s is a brand that has been in the business of producing top-class liquors for many generations.
The brand has earned itself some steady prestige across its years on the market, and the reason for this is because of the interesting way in which it produces its products.
Not only are the individual liquors carefully distilled and aged for more than four years, but they are also then loaded onto cargo ships so that they can then ‘travel’ across the world.
This helps to give them an incredibly unique sense of flavor, as the motion of the sea causes the ingredients in the barrels to mix together in unique ways that a machine cannot replicate.
As well as this, the light amount of salt in the sea air helps to further add to the flavor.
This helps to make every sip of their wheated bourbon an incredibly interesting experience because you will have the knowledge that this drink has experienced an incredible journey.
This is also a great talking point that you can draw upon when serving this liquor out to groups of friends or family!
To Wrap Up
Wheated bourbon may sound like just a simple variation on standard bourbon, but it is actually much more incredible than that!
Wheated bourbon has a totally unique taste as a result of how it is made, and this helps to make every sip of the drink much better!
The taste of wheated bourbon is much sweeter than standard bourbon because of the inclusion of wheat, which has less fieriness than rye which is used to produce standard bourbon!
If you find traditional bourbon potentially a little too intense, then you may want to check out wheated bourbon for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Buffalo Trace A Wheated Bourbon?
Buffalo Trace itself is actually a brand known for producing whiskey and bourbons.
However, the brand does produce its own line of wheated bourbon, which perhaps explains why so many believe that Buffalo Trace is a wheated bourbon unto itself.
What Bourbon Is Closest To Pappy?
Pappy is considered to be the absolute best kind of wheated bourbon, but grabbing a bottle is incredibly difficult as it is incredibly rare, and also incredibly expensive.
The closest alternative is Maker’s Mark, which has a slightly similar taste, and a much smaller price tag.
Why Is Pappy So Rare?
Pappy tends to be so rare because it is aged for over 10 years, which is much longer than the standard 4 years that most other bourbons make use of!