straight wheat

Review: Parker's Heritage Collection Original Small Batch Aged 13 Years Kentucky StraIght Wheat Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

13 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
51% Wheat, 39% Corn, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Parker's Heritage Collection represents a yearly limited release from Kentucky's second biggest distiller, Heaven Hill, representing some of the most sought after and best American whiskies (including one of my favorite bourbons, Promise of Hope). The 2014 release (the 8th annual release) was perhaps the best wheat whiskey ever produced - a 13 year old, cask strength version of the original batch of (the typically 7 year old) Bernheim Straight Wheat, the only successful big brand of straight wheat whiskey in the world. the original batch was distilled in 2000. This whisky was matured on the top floors of rickhouse Y at Heaven Hill.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

The nose – obviously – showcases much of what the standard bernheim does – only bigger and rounder. More oak too, and more wonderful Heaven Hill oakiness – I don’t know what specifically it is about the distillery but all their whiskey is slightly distinctive in the oaky notes which are brought forward. It smells much like the angel’s share in the warehouses there. Elegant - oak, apricot, menthol, incense, apple, and plump corn – quite remarkable on the nose, really, and nicely creamy. At cask strength, we also have lots of coconut, fruity candy notes – though it doesn’t translate to the flavor profile, I keep picturing Dave Broom in my head saying “rich and round”…the tropical fruity, oaky, earthy, and grain notes all are terrifically balanced – another classic from Heaven Hill.

On the palate, we have more oakiness and complexity than the standard bernheim – a clear notch above all the way through, particularly with some refined nutty notes. A bit heavier – but the complexity is immensely greater than Bernheim. It makes me wonder…they slate Bernheim these days at 7 years – why not push that to 12? It would make a huge difference. But, I suppose, distilleries aren’t adding years to whiskies but rather taking them away…back to the whiskey – the palate brings forth also lots of dried fruit, light sweetness, light baking bread, and some spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, and dry spice. The finish is full and oaky. It carries itself remarkably well at cask strength, balancing the oak with sweetness, caramel, tropical fruity – and finishing so gently with grain and spice in a finish that develops to show clear cut grain notes. The mouthfeel is incredible. However, I do think this one shines with just a touch of water.

Elegant, compex, and delicious – though they do a bit better with more corn oriented whiskies. Wheat is fascinating, but can be a bit simple at times.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low (based on $225)

Review: Bernheim Straight Wheat Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

This is a straight wheat whiskey, which means that its primary grain is wheat, rather than corn or rye which are more common. In many parts of Canada and the US, wheat was the most common grain for whisky at the beginning of whisky history in those places. “Straight whiskey” means that it has been aged in new charred oak casks, for at least 2 years. To say it is “wheat” means that it is at least 51% wheat (this is 51% wheat, with the remaining 49% corn and malted barley). Wheat rounds out the profile, resulting in “softer” whiskies (like wheated bourbons, which have wheat as a secondary grain to corn rather than rye bourbons, which are more spicy due to the secondary grain of rye) and a typically more viscous product. Also, I find, they give some very interesting, unique fruity and floral notes.

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Review: Masterson's 12 Year Old Straight Wheat Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Masterson’s entered the market with an absolutely fantastic rye whisk(e)y, and has since released two other products – a straight wheat whisky and a barley whisky. All of the products are sourced out of Canada, again showing off some of the fantastic whiskies in Canada which often get lost into blends. This whisky is 12 years old, bottled at 50% ABV, and, from the looks of it, doesn’t have any added colouring. As a straight whisky, it is aged in brand new charred oak barrels. It also, I might note, is 100% wheat – not something you find in whisky very often. This whisky is a limited release and will not be a regular product. We know it is produced in Canada, and my guess would be Alberta distillery (surprisingly, not Highwood) - but that is a guess and nothing more.

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