We Bought Another Barrel

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Bourbon, Bourbon, Bourbon. As we enter prime whiskey season, everyone focuses on America’s most famous of spirits, but maybe we should consider other types of whiskey. Heaven Hill’s master distiller Craig Beam is the hero of our story (against expectations, he does not work for the distillery that shares his last name). There are only two recipes for bourbon at Heaven Hill, both of which are mostly corn (they have to be to be called Bourbon): one made with a touch of rye and the other a little wheat. Wheated Bourbons are rarer, but chances are that you’ve tried one in Maker’s Mark or one from the forever-scarce Van Winkle line-up. Wheat makes a whiskey that is easy to drink with sweet cherry tones, and without all of the heavy spice notes and burn that rye can impart. Why not make a whiskey with wheat as its first grain and use corn as the second? Craig Beam was inspired to do just that after distilling a batch of Old Fitzgerald, which is Heaven Hill’s wheated Bourbon. This inverse-bourbon experiment started around 14 years ago and is still going strong. Recently the stocks have reached maturity and are being bottled at 7 years old, and they taste delicious! It’s exciting to see large Bourbon companies moving outside of the fruit/cinnamon-flavored spirits/shot market that is exploding right now. Although it is the first mainstream wheat whiskey to be released since Prohibition, Craig Beam thinks it’s here to stay; that’s why he named the whiskey after Heaven Hill’s main facility: the Bernheim Distillery of Louisville.

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Bernheim's Wheat Whiskey 7 Year Selected by Chambers St

This is the legendary Heaven Hill’s first wheat whiskey. Compared to Bourbon this is a lighter, fresher drink with soft vanilla and honey tones. For wine geeks, it’s perhaps more Beaujolais than Bordeaux or more Chianti than Montalcino… Wheat whiskey is a great introduction to American whiskey for drinkers of brandy or lighter spirits, but this particular bottling has plenty of complex oak tones to satisfy the most knowledgeable Bourbon taster. This particular barrel showed more refined complexity than a line-up of other Bernheim barrels tasted in April, and although we weren’t in the market for a wheat whiskey, we were convinced to buy a barrel. It’s that good!

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  • bourbon whiskey
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  • $39.99