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Craft Distillery Bourbon Tasting With Spirits Of French Lick \U0026 Alan Bishop | William Dalton Wheated Bourbon The 126 Detailed Answer

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New Wheated Bourbon whiskeys just released by Spirits of French Lick of West Baden, Indiana tasted live.

Distiller and Historian Alan Bishop join Bourbon expert Tom Fischer to taste the new The Morning Glory Kasha Bourbon and William Dalton Wheated Bourbon with Distiller and Historian Alan Bishop.

This top craft distillery in Indiana is also known for Lee Sinclair Bourbon and Mattie Gladden Bourbon These spirits of French Lick Spirits are distilled and aged near the French Lick Casino in West Baden Springs, Indiana.

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Spirits of French Lick William Dalton Wheated Bourbon 750ml

Spirits of French Lick William Dalton Wheated Bourbon. 750ml. Quantity. 1, 2, 3. Add to Cart. $52.99. Available for: Pickup. Delivery. Share.

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Date Published: 6/6/2021

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Craft Distillery Bourbon Tasting with Spirits of French Lick \u0026 Alan Bishop

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Does Buffalo Trace make a wheated bourbon?

wheated mash overview

Buffalo Trace Wheated Mash is the foundation for every single Buffalo Trace wheated bourbon, as well as every Pappy Van Winkle bourbon being produced now. As a refresher, wheated bourbon means that wheat, instead of rye, is used as the secondary grain in the mash.

Are all Weller bourbons Wheated?

There’s only one expression of wheated bourbon under Weller’s full name (the brand’s other expressions are labeled as W.L. Weller). William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is uncut, unfiltered, and hand-bottled at barrel proof.

Who makes redemption Wheated bourbon?

They decided to go into business producing rye whiskey and other high rye content spirits and thus Redemption was born. After a few years in the market, the company was purchased in 2015 by the Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits company, the same company that brings us [yellow tail] wine.

What was the first wheated bourbon?

History of Wheated Bourbon

William LaRue Weller (that name should be familiar to some) is credited as the first distiller to dump the rye for wheat. His name still occupies the label of several wheated bourbons.

Is Knob Creek a Wheated bourbon?

Is Knob Creek A Wheated Bourbon? For example, traditional bourbons (Knob Creek, Eagle Rare, and Jim Beam) are primarily made up of corn (70-80%), with rye and barley making up the balance. Wheat is used to make these bourbons instead of rye, which is usually about 70-80% corn.

Is Blanton’s Wheated?

(Buffalo Trace makes a number of whiskies, including Blanton’s.) Weller and Pappy are both so-called wheated bourbons, since they’re made with corn, barley and wheat instead of the more standard rye. And the two brands have the same mash bill (mix of grains).

Is Michter’s a Wheated bourbon?

Mash Bill. Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon shares many similarities to its peers in the whiskey market from a mash bill standpoint. Its ingredients by percentage consist of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% wheat.

Why is Weller 12 so hard to find?

It’s supply and demand, plain and simple. Buffalo Trace points out that a 12-year lag between barrelling and bottling makes it hard to respond to demand. Any Weller 12 you find today was bottled in 2008, after all.

What bourbon tastes closest to Pappy?

Weller Special Reserve is absolutely the closest thing to Pappy that you can find considering it has the same build as Pappy and is made by the same parent company, Buffalo Trace,” says Torres.

How old is redemption Wheated bourbon?

This Redemption Wheated Bourbon is four years old and bottled at 96 proof. Wheated bourbons have been a hot category for years, so this new Redemption won’t be any enthusiast’s first rodeo with wheaters.

What distillery makes Pappy Van Winkle?

Both the Old Rip Van Winkle and the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve labels are produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery and remain in high demand.

Is Basil Hayden a Wheated bourbon?

The Basil Hayden’s bourbon brand was introduced in 1992 and is named in honor of Basil Hayden Sr. Hayden was a distiller, and he used a larger amount of rye in his mash than in some other bourbons. Later, Hayden’s grandson Raymond B.

Basil Hayden’s.
Type Bourbon whiskey
Related products Jim Beam

Is Four Roses Wheated bourbon?

In pursuit of this rich flavor profile, every major Kentucky distiller except Four Roses and Wild Turkey is distilling wheated bourbon, and more than two dozen craft distillers are laying down wheated stocks.

Is Angel’s Envy Wheated or rye?

Angel’s Envy Rye is a 6-7 year old 95% rye / 5% malted barley aged for up to 18 months in Caribbean XO Rum Casks that served as Cognac Casks before that.

Is 101 Wild Turkey a Wheated bourbon?

“We all thought that {6} was a wheated bourbon,” he said, stunned. “It didn’t have much spice to it.” It was Wild Turkey 101, most definitely not a wheated bourbon.

William Dalton Wheated Bourbon Review

Spirits of French Lick Distillery is nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana about 60 miles northwest of Louisville, KY. The distillery has many claims to fame among the craft distiller’s of the state with one of them being that they are the largest pot still distillery in Indiana.

I’m not sure if that means they have the most output or if their potstills are the largest in size (which I would believe belongs to Starlight Distillery, but I digress).

The master distiller, Alan Bishop, is enthusiastic about his craft and has gone on the record many times as to why he creates whiskey the way he does and why the grains he uses are the focus of his spirits.

The bourbon before us today is labeled “William Dalton.” The William Dalton line is a wheated bourbon that uses 70% corn, 20% wheat and 10% malted barley for the mashbill.

The Wheater

The previous wheated bourbon that Spirits of French Lick produced was simply called “The Wheater” and contained a blend of 7 year old wheated bourbon from MGP and 2 year old wheated bourbon from their own stills.

That has now been discontinued. Other stats for William Dalton include it being double pot distilled (usually to around 132-135 proof) and going into the barrel at 105 proof.

Speaking of barrels, Spirits of French Lick uses only 53 gallon white oak barrels that have been toasted and charred (but not the heads) with a Level 2 char.

It’s also been aged for a minimum of 4 years in a cellar that still sees temperature variations of around 40 degrees throughout the year.

The William Dalton line has not been released for distribution at the time of this review, but the gift shop/cafe at the distillery did put out this single barrel early in 2021.

Bottled at 107.9 proof, this would show the lucky few that scooped up a bottle just how well their wheated distillate was maturing. So how is it coming along? I sampled this neat in a glencairn to find out.

Tasting Notes

Nose: I was drinking other craft bourbons before pouring this one and immediately noticed how different this one was. There was almost no hint of youth at all.

I found notes of warm cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing, chocolate pudding with chocolate shavings and canned cherries. I also found some light vanilla and a lovely toasted wood scent. This one definitely had all the hallmarks of a well made wheated bourbon.

Palate: The sweet chocolate of the nose darkens and becomes a bit more bitter. It’s very close to a mixture of cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate.

A little bit of chalkiness comes through on my tongue which doesn’t really ruin the taste but is a little strange. Otherwise, vanilla and poached pear flavors mingle with a bit of cinnamon dust.

The exotic flavor of breadfruit gives the mouthfeel some heft while a small amount of wood cleaner give a bit of depth and a small amount of astringency.

Every now and then some youthful traits pop up but for the most part the well-developed flavors keep them under wraps.

Finish: Ovaltine, chocolate-covered cherries and a bit of vanilla custard all combine to give this dram a much richer and sweeter finish than I would have ever expected.

The only thing I can say I’d like more of are tannins and this would be maybe one of the best craft distillery bourbon finishes I would have tasted.

I did find a little bit of leather at the very end and am hopeful that a couple more years would really help to develop that.

Score: 6.7/10

I’m actually quite impressed with this one. The nose ranks right up there with similar Kentucky wheated bourbons (think Maker’s Mark or 1792 Sweet Wheat).

In fact, there is a lot here that reminds me of a younger Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. Comparing this to MMCS was the last thing on my mind before I took a sip, but here we are.

Also, as much as I wanted to disagree with their decision to use #2 charred oak barrels, I do actually think it helped out a lot here.

So many craft bourbons have a young astringent or green wood taste and since I found a lack of that here, I have to believe it has something to do with the char level. Do more craft distilleries need to jump on this trend? It couldn’t hurt to try.

Craft bourbons that use wheat in the mashbill have traditionally let me down throughout the years. Everyone from Wyoming Whiskey to Nelson’s Green Brier have somehow made their whiskey taste even worse by choosing to omit rye in favor of wheat.

I was so sure that this would be the case here but lo and behold the crew at Spirits of French Lick have actually produced a very good product.

I declare this to be the closest thing I’ve tasted to a Kentucky wheated bourbon yet. As much as I write reviews that tend to be overly judgemental, I still would like to think that I’m open-minded to the possibility that I can be wrong.

And in the case of William Dalton, I was wrong to have assumed that this would not be good. Well done, Spirits of French Lick.

Ratings Breakdown

1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)

2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it

3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)

4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)

5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)

6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)

7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)

8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)

9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)

10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)

Where to buy Spirits of French Lick ‘William Dalton’ Wheated Bourbon Whiskey, Indiana



Indiana is a state in the American Midwest, between Michigan to the north and Kentucky to the south. The state covers 36,500 square miles (95,000 sq km) of fertile plains and shallow…

Review #12 – The William Dalton

The William Dalton is the second bottle from Spirits of French Lick that I’ve reviewed now, after The Mattie Gladden. Once again, fellow Bourbon Underground member, Cory Welch, and myself found ourselves in West Baden Springs to see what was happening with our friends at the distillery, and after a few hours we left with several neat bottles that they are producing, the William Dalton among them.

The William Dalton will not be commercially distributed until Q1 of 2021, and this bottle is from the first (and I believe still only) single barrel pick that has been bottled and sold. Somehow, I’ve found myself in an exclusive club with no idea how or why I’m here, but praying I don’t screw it up. Coming in at a 4 year, Bottled in Bond, the distillery’s plan is for this offering to replace The Wheater, the current blend of 7 year wheated merchant bourbon and 2 year wheated bourbon of their own distillate.

A snip about William Dalton from Spirits of French Lick: William Dalton was a man of few words but immense distilling talent. The longest serving Master Distiller in Indiana history, he kept the still fires burning at the historic Daisy Springs Distillery for 55 years. We pay tribute to his contributions with this traditional Wheated mashbill reflective of the art of true Hoosier distillers.

This time I opened the bottle and let it breathe for about an hour (Again, sorry Mattie). I drank out of a glencairn which rested about 10 minutes after pouring.

Scores are between 1 (drain), 2 (finish but wouldn’t order at a bar), 3 (solid pour), 4 (actively seek out) and 5 (whatever it takes).


Age: 4 years

Proof: 100

Mashbill: 70% corn 20% wheat 10% Caramel Malt


Anise hits my nose first followed by some leather. Getting those two predominately but there’s also notes of some butter and a sweet vanilla nuttiness. 4


Medium in the mouth but not very oily. Normally that detracts for my personal taste, but the notes are fairly complex. First sip I get some vanilla which very quickly turns into baking spice, pepper, and a bit of heat in the mid mouth, but after another swirl and a second sip this really opens up with more cherry cola and brown sugar notes. For me, really just needed that baseline first coating and it turned into something really good. 4


Like the mouth, first sip there is some heat despite being a bottled in bond offering and senses of spice and tannins are present. But subsequent tries and all that starts to fade while sweeter notes linger for quite a while afterward. 3.5

Total: 3.83

This was an enjoyable pour that was complex enough to keep me going back to try and extract what was happening. And I went back a lot, even after writing that stuff down. Of course, it was 9 AM on a Saturday, but you can’t drink all day unless you start early.

I’m looking forward to the commercial release of William Dalton, and hope that this single barrel is reflective of the flavor profile that will be found in it. If so, I expect it to stack up well with its peers in the mid-tier $40-$70 range, and I’ll be trying to keep one on my bar going forward. Look for the first release of these in Indiana or through online retailers, and cross your fingers that finding it gets a little bit easier in the near future.


In Depth: Buffalo Trace Wheated Mash Review

Buffalo Trace Wheated Mash is the foundation for every single Buffalo Trace wheated bourbon, as well as every Pappy Van Winkle bourbon being produced now. As a refresher, wheated bourbon means that wheat, instead of rye, is used as the secondary grain in the mash. Corn is always the primary grain for bourbon.

This wheated mash will become Weller Special Reserve or Weller Antique 107 in 5-7 years, and Weller 12 in 12 years. In 12-15 years or so, it will become William Larue Weller. So, if you want to better understand why those wheated bourbons are the way they are, it helps to understand where they started. It’s like having grown up with a friend who became a superstar celebrity. While most others worship that person, you happen to know all the awkward and embarrassing things about that person before they were famous, reminding you that they’re still just a normal human being.

Granted, white dog / moonshine is an acquired taste so you may not be compelled to try it. Lucky for you, I like moonshine so I’ll happily do it for you. Full disclosure: this is not really a Buffalo Trace Wheated Mash review. Since this is not whiskey, let alone aged anything, I will not provide a rating at the end of this. Consider it educational content to help you understand wheated bourbon in its most naked and vulnerable form.

10 Things You Should Know About W.L. Weller

Bourbon has one of the most famous recipes in the world: It must be made with at least 51 percent corn in its mash. Beyond this, bourbon distillers often use rye and malted barley to finish the grist. William Larue Weller did things a little differently.

Where many other bourbons use rye, W.L. Weller uses wheat. Weller himself developed this recipe, believing wheat produced a softer, sweeter flavor profile than rye’s typically spicy one. Though brands such as Maker’s Mark and Larceny also produce wheated bourbons, Weller’s is widely known as the pioneer of the practice. Read on for 10 more things you should know about W.L. Weller.

W.L. Weller has seven signature expressions.

Weller’s original wheated bourbon, and perhaps the brand’s most notable expression, is Weller Special Reserve. Weller 12 Year is another unique offering, as it is aged far longer than most wheated bourbons, making it especially smooth. Weller’s other expressions include Weller Antique 107, and Weller Full Proof, which has a proof of 114, and is distilled without chill filtration. Also significant is William Larue Weller, the brand’s unfiltered, hand-bottled, barrel-proof expression. Finally, as of summer 2020, Weller Single Barrel is slated to be an annual release.

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W.L. Weller 12 year and Pappy Van Winkle 12 year are basically twins.

W.L. Weller 12 Year and Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year are both made at Buffalo Trace Distillery, using the same recipe. The difference is in the aging of the barrels — which can be very slight, if even noticeable. Yet despite their almost identical recipes and flavors, W.L. Weller is easier to find, and, at about $25, it offers a better bang for your buck than Pappy, which is about $945 via Caskers.

Bartenders and critics agree Weller is special.

W.L. Weller Special Reserve is repeatedly praised by bartenders and spirits professionals — including VinePair staff writer Tim McKirdy, who summed up the expression as “lean and fruity, with great complexity.” The once-affordable bourbon will set buyers back about $60 these days, but when compared to its peers, it’s a steal. In fact, when VinePair asked bartenders to reveal their go-to bottles, professionals from NYC to Houston listed Weller Special Reserve among their favorites — noting its more reasonable price compared to Pappy Van Winkle, as well as its “smoother and softer finish.” Can’t beat that.

There was, and is, only one William Larue Weller.

There’s only one expression of wheated bourbon under Weller’s full name (the brand’s other expressions are labeled as W.L. Weller). William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is uncut, unfiltered, and hand-bottled at barrel proof.

W.L. Weller is made in America’s oldest distillery.

The W.L. Weller brand is produced and owned by Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Ky., which acquired the brand in 1999. The Frankfort facility is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, and even became a National Historic Landmark in 2013.

Pappy Van Winkle was Weller’s first hire.

W.L. Weller hired its first salesman, Julian Van Winkle, in 1893. It was Van Winkle’s first job in whiskey. Eventually, Van Winkle purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery, which, in 1935, merged with Weller’s namesake company to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. The distillery became famous for both brands, and the wheated bourbons they produced. W.L. Weller and Pappy Van Winkle are now produced and owned by Buffalo Trace.

W.L. Weller was a neutral spirit in the Civil War.

Although two Weller brothers fought in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, William and Charles stayed neutral. Why? To sell whiskey, of course. Both stayed behind in Louisville selling whiskey — to both the Union and Confederacy.

Weller had a green thumb.

Weller was so committed to showcasing the quality of his bourbon, that he was compelled to leave his mark on every barrel to ensure its authenticity. He did so by pressing a green thumbprint on barrels to ensure that customers were receiving the real stuff. He also reportedly coined the slogan, “honest whiskey at an honest price.”

Like grandfather, like grandson.

W.L. Weller is named for its founder and distiller, William Larue Weller, who learned the craft from his grandfather. Keeping whiskey in the family, William Larue, a.k.a. “W.L.,” and his younger brother Charles Weller opened a trading company in Louisville, selling their own bourbon brand, William Larue Weller & Brother. (Charles got the short end of that oak stave.) In 1849, W.L. Weller replaced the rye generally found in bourbon’s mash bill with wheat. And voila: Weller’s wheated bourbon was born.

You can customize your own Weller expression online.

In November 2015, Buffalo Trace launched its W.L. Weller Craft Your Perfect Bourbon (C.Y.P.B.) website, an interactive experience that allows fans to learn about and create their own perfect bourbon. The process entails the choice of a bourbon recipe, placement in the warehouse for aging, number of years to age the bourbon, and final proof for bottling. The site then matches imbibers with a Weller expression that best fits their preferences.

Whiskey Review: Redemption Wheated Bourbon

Some of the current highest rated (and highest-priced) bourbons in the world use wheat as a significant portion of their grain recipe, but this isn’t necessarily a common practice among the broader bourbon industry. And now, to the delight of those who don’t want to wait in long lines or pay ridiculous prices for a single bottle, Redemption is making a similar wheated bourbon at a much more reasonable price point.



Redemption is a relatively new company in the spirits industry.

Around 2009, veterans of the distilled alcohol business Dave Schmier and Michael Kanbar noticed an increased interest in rye whiskey within the market. Quite ideal as a mixer for cocktails, the added spice in the rye whiskey provides a flavor that most bourbons just can’t match. They decided to go into business producing rye whiskey and other high rye content spirits and thus Redemption was born.

After a few years in the market, the company was purchased in 2015 by the Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits company, the same company that brings us [yellow tail] wine. Deutsch had gotten into the spirits industry about the same time as Redemption was starting up and with the rapid expansion of Redemption, they offered a way to better scale the business.


As far as I can tell, Redemption does not have a distillation facility. Instead, Redemption (like so many other budget or beginner spirit companies) purchases their spirit from MGP, a large mass production facility for alcohol in Indiana. The spirit is bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky, but I’m not sure if they have their own dedicated aging facility or if MGP does that as well. Given that some of their offerings claim to be aged for longer than the company has been in business, I’m betting that they are relying on MGP for a good portion of the aging process.

As mentioned, wheated bourbons are something that has gained significant popularity recently — especially thanks to products like Weller and Pappy Van Winkle. Following in their footsteps, this whiskey starts with the bare minimum of corn content required to be called a bourbon (51%) and then adds a whole mess of wheat (45%) and a tiny touch of malted barley (4%). Those grains are cooked and fermented before being distilled into new whiskey.

That new whiskey is then placed into charred new oak barrels for a period of four years before the casks are cracked open and the results are bottled.


The bottle is similar in style to the Bulleit Bourbon brand, with straight walls and a rounded shoulder tapering to a straight short neck. One strange thing about the bottle is that it sports a concave curve on the back of the bottle, much like a hip flask. I suppose that makes sense in a smaller bottle where you might want to shove it into your jeans as you walk around with it… but in this format it just means you need a bigger bottle. Which is a bit unwieldy but probably good for retail and bar shelf appeal.

The brand name is embossed into the bottle itself, and there’s a label on the front with all of the relevant information on it.

What I like about this bottle is the same thing I like about other similar ones: it doesn’t hide the spirit. There’s some branding and just enough data to make a purchase decision, but the spirit inside of the bottle is the star of the show.

The bottle is topped with an actual wood topped cork stopper, a touch I truly appreciate for a budget priced bourbon.


This whiskey smells great. There’s a smooth, well-saturated aroma coming off the glass that has the usual caramel and vanilla notes, but also has some fresh sliced pear sweetness and a bit of nutmeg.

Taking a sip, though, the flavor is not what I had expected. I’m getting some of the same flavor notes that I would expect from a Tennessee whiskey — specifically, that fruity banana aspect. There’s also a bit of minty freshness mixed in, which seems to give it a little hint of character and a touch of zest on the finish.

On Ice

Usually, with a little bit of ice any flavors that were too loud or obnoxious gets toned down a bit, t the overall benefit of the spirit. There is a problem here, though: namely, that there wasn’t anything loud or obnoxious in that glass to begin with.

Instead, the ice does some funky stuff with the balance of the flavors. The fruity banana aspect has been turned down significantly, with the caramel now being the most dominant flavor in the mixture. The mint is also sadly diminished to the point of nonexistence.

On the plus side, a new flavor and texture appears and it can only be described as akin to biting into a slice of Wonderbread. I think it’s the wheat finally making itself visible as a clear component of the whiskey (and not just a supporting character), and I think it does well here to make a sweet and well blended spirit.

Old Fashioned

This spirit is already on the sweeter side of the spectrum compared to other bourbons. So it should be no surprise that the old fashioned that it produces might be better suited to a small cocktail umbrella garnish than to a slice of orange.

Specifically, that banana fruitiness heavily influences the end result. There aren’t a lot of the usual heavy charred oak notes to bring a smoky or rich texture to the cocktail, so instead the angostura bitters themselves are the richest thing in the mixture. All those herbs and spices combine to make something that, with the right sweetness, could easily be confused for a painkiller cocktail with a spiced rum base.

It’s sweet and delicious and I really like it. But it’s not exactly a traditional Old Fashioned.


While, in general, I like the result that this produced… I don’t think it hits all of the criteria we usually use to judge a successful Kentucky Mule.

The biggest component of a good Kentucky Mule is that the flavors in the bourbon need to balance with the sharp and bitter ginger beer. In this case, they are right on the spot. That fruity banana flavor really helps mellow things out, and the latent caramel and vanilla add some additional flavors that make this a really delicious cocktail.

The issue comes with the second criteria: that the whiskey add something different and notable to the flavor profile (else it may as well be a Moscow Mule). There really isn’t any interesting texture or flourish that the whiskey brings to the table, unlike the high rye version of their spirit. It’s just kind of… mellow. Flat. Like an accountant that put on a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat while on vacation.


Overall Rating

This is different, and in a good way. The flavors are closer to a Tennessee whiskey than anything else, but there’s a smooth texture to it that makes for an enjoyable drinking experience. I don’t think that this quite makes it to the same level as a Weller… but, even on its own, this is a pretty good choice for the money.

All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5

A delicious departure from the normal bourbon formula.


All About Wheated Bourbon – The History, Character, and Flavors

All About Wheated Bourbon – The History, Character, and Flavors

With corn being the predominant grain in bourbon, rye is often the secondary flavoring grain in the spirit’s mash bill. But when wheat is used as the flavoring grain instead, it creates a different flavor profile altogether. Wheated bourbon has a soft, round mouthfeel and the wheat grain brings a cracker-like flavor to the mix. Wheated bourbon is also easygoing and therefore great for folks just getting their feet wet in the bourbon world. You may even be a fan of wheated bourbon without knowing it.

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What is Wheated Boubon?

Wheated bourbons still adhere to the requirements to be considered bourbon — including the use of 51 percent corn and new American charred oak barrels during maturation. But for these products, the whiskey maker has replaced the more common rye grain used in a typical bourbon mash bill with wheat to produce an entirely different flavor profile. While still meeting all the criteria required of the bourbon category, this style allows distillers to create distinct flavor combinations.

History of Wheated Bourbon

Who created wheated bourbon? William LaRue Weller (that name should be familiar to some) is credited as the first distiller to dump the rye for wheat. His name still occupies the label of several wheated bourbons. Weller’s brand continued on and eventually merged with A Ph Stitzel distillery to create the now infamous Stitzel-Weller. Stitzel-Weller continued to produce extraordinary wheated bourbon until it closed in 1991. As with most bourbon history, the story is more convoluted than the scope of this post. Ultimately, Buffalo Trace acquired the Weller brand and Heaven Hill got the Fitzgerald brand. Both brands are still alive and wheated to this day.

Wheat is a grain that’s one of humanity’s most cultivated crops. It’s an excellent food source because of its tightly packed proteins. But those proteins make the starches less accessible to yeast, which requires short sugar molecules to produce alcohol.

By malting grains, you can release enzymes customarily used to help feed the germinating seed and harness them for fermentation. These enzymes evolved to break down long starch molecules into shorter sugar molecules that the shooting plant can use for fuel as it sprouts from the earth. Germinating seeds use the converted sugar as energy while establishing roots and leaves so they can conduct photosynthesis on their own.

Humans learned early on that we could hijack this process to make booze. Yeast naturally parts anytime it’s exposed to fruit sugars. But to make alcohol from grain starches, you must break those starch chains down into disaccharide and monosaccharide sugar molecules the yeast can consume and turn into alcohol. Some grains, like malted barley, have enough enzymes to convert the starches to any other grains included with them in the mash.

Flavor Profile of Wheated Bourbons

So, that leaves us with the flavoring grains. Rye is more commonly used to add flavor to bourbon, as it brings a unique spicy note to the spirit and flavors of pepper, clove, and nutmeg. You know that pleasant bite some bourbons have in the finish? That’s the rye. Wheat is a different story. It’s less flavorful than rye, so it allows more of the corn’s sweetness and vanilla from the barrel to come through. Some might see it as a slightly flavor-neutral grain, but its defenders believe that wheat retains its flavor over the course of extreme aging (10 to 20 years). A wheated bourbon still contains at least 51% corn (but typically 70 to 80%), with the balance divided between barley and wheat.

Typically, a bourbon mash bill includes three ingredients: corn (at least 51%), rye, and barley. Distilleries replace the rye portion of the mash bill with wheat to create a “wheated” or “wheater” bourbon. Wheated bourbon is a softer and often sweeter bourbon. But what does “soft” taste like? Eat a piece of rye toast next to a piece of wheat toast. You’ll quickly understand the difference. Wheated bourbon is associated with a more rounded mouthfeel as well as a mellow finish.

There are some caveats. Some mash bills contain both rye and wheat, which imbues the resulting distillate with a complex character — sweet and spicy, with lots of depth. And some bourbons contain exotic grains — cereal grains permitted in the production of bourbon but not generally considered in the average distiller’s playbook. Exotic grains include cereals like oats, sorghum, buckwheat, rice, and quinoa. These grains add notes not usually considered in the traditional bourbon flavor wheel. Some wheated bourbons contain no malted barley because distillers in the US can use lab-created enzymes during fermentation. Although they are outlawed in Scotland, products like Diazyme and Amylex are allowed in the US, giving distillers the option of bypassing the traditional use of malted barley.

Choosing a Wheated Bourbon

Here’s a rundown on some of the most common wheated bourbons you’ll find.


One of the most popular bourbons out there, Maker’s Mark is a wheated bourbon made with a mash bill of 70% locally-grown corn, 16% red winter wheat, and 14% malted barley. This recipe was created by Bill Samuels Sr., who baked bread with different grains to settle on his mash bill rather than trial and error with distillation. His wife, Margie Samuels, is responsible for the shape of the bottle, the signature label, and the red wax topper. Maker’s Mark is aged in char #3 new American oak barrels for 6-7 years and it’s bottled at 90 proof.


Weller Special Reserve is the entry bottling to the Weller portfolio which comes from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. This line is named after William Larue Weller. Born in 1825, Weller was a whiskey pioneer who developed his bourbon recipe with wheat instead of rye. While the Weller portfolio was once known in inner circles as the Poor Man’s Pappy, word has most certainly gotten out. Even this entry-level wheated bourbon is tough to find on shelves, let alone the Antique 107 or the 12-Year versions. But bottles do exist. Maybe this is your year?


Founded in 2006, Treaty Oak Distilling is located in Dripping Springs, Texas just outside of Austin. Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon is a wheated bourbon produced from grains sourced at Barton Springs Mill, which is also located in Dripping Springs. The mash bill is 57% yellow Texas No. 1 corn, 32% Texas wheat, and 11% American barley. Distilled at Treaty Oak, the bourbon ages for two years in new American oak with a #3 char level. It’s bottled at 95 proof.


The term cult classic doesn’t begin to do this brand justice. Many of us first heard about wheated bourbons due to the success and popularity of the Pappy Van Winkle brand.

Today, this brand is a unicorn. Any bourbon hunter out there will talk about landing “the big one” — a bottle in the Van Winkle range at suggested retail price — the way an angler describes that legendary big catch.


While whiskies are usually brought to a set alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage or proof with added water, cask-strength whisky maintains its strength from when it’s taken from the cask. This means that when it’s bottled, nothing gets removed or added.

Oak & Eden’s Wheat & Spire Cask Strength Whiskey is a combination of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley and is bottled at 90 proof. It gets distilled, aged for two years in new American oak barrels, and finished in the bottle with a 5-inch long spiral-cut piece of wood from French oak, the same species as the finishing barrel. This French oak spire remains in the bottle and was picked because it’s rich and porous, with almost double the natural botanicals as American oak. It finishes silky, rich, and fruity.


Breaker Wheated Bourbon Whisky is a softer version of the brand’s bourbon whiskey, as it contains wheat instead of rye in its mash bill. It’s aged in new 53-gallon charred White American oak barrels for at least five years, and Breaker’s master distiller is very selective in choosing eight — and only eight — barrels for each bottled batch.

In this wheated bourbon, you’ll smell aromas of vanilla, maple, char smoke, and coconut, and you’ll taste similar notes with a spicy, smoky finish.

Try New Bourbons Each Month by Joining Taster’s Club Learn more about wheated bourbon when you join our Bourbon Club. Join the Club

How to Enter the World of Wheated Bourbon

Okay. So you’ve read through this entire primer, and you’re ready to take the next step in drinking bourbon — getting this liquid into a glass for a bourbon blind tasting or whiskey flight. It’s time to take that bourbon knowledge and get your taste buds involved!

Try putting together a lineup of traditional bourbons — a high-rye, traditional bourbon and one with a whisper of wheat — to see if you can figure out how the bourbon recipe, along with the baking spice notes gained from the barrel, influence the finished product. If you’re not sure how to pick the best bourbons to try, Taster’s Club will do the work for you when you join our Bourbon of the Month Club.

Wheated Bourbon Cocktail Recipes

Here are some fantastic cocktails that never go out of style. Make these at home with wheated bourbon in just a few steps. Enjoy!


Take a ¾-ounce each of wheated bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari and combine in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir well, then strain into a tumbler containing a block of ice. Garnish with an orange slice.


To a cocktail shaker, squeeze the juice of half a lemon cut into wedges, then add the wedges in as well. Add two ounces of wheated bourbon, ¾-ounces of simple syrup, three mint leaves, and ice. Shake well, then strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with another mint leaf.


Combine two ounces of wheated bourbon, one ounce of dry vermouth, a couple dashes of orange bitters, a half-ounce of grenadine, and a quarter-ounce of lemon juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass, preferably chilled.

Now that you have an idea of what wheated bourbon is, a bit about its history, how wheat in a bourbon mash bill creates its soft, sweet flavor and mellow character, and why people love the bourbon whiskey-making style, you’re well-equipped to venture into some wheated bourbon of your own.

William Dalton 2017

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