Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
As the bourbon whiskey boom continues to ramp up, with no foreseeable end in sight, what were once common shelf whiskeys have become the new age unicorns. I’m not referring to the stories of 15 years ago when you could walk into a store around Christmas and buy the entire range of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. I’m referring to the reality that 5 years ago, you could go find a Blanton’s at any given liquor store, but now they vanish off shelves like socks from a dryer.
While Blanton’s is by no means a poor product, I have always felt that there are so many other great whiskeys that frequently grace the shelves within the same price point to get so fixated on one in particular.
One of the largest competitors to Buffalo Trace is Heaven Hill Distillery, also the largestindependent family-owned and operated producer of distillery spirits in America. Heaven Hill has amassed a formidable lineup of whiskeys that should honestly be talked about in the same breath as their Buffalo Trace counterparts.
Looking for a good wheater? Try Heaven Hill’s Larceny (especially their Barrel Proof expression). Looking for a Blanton’s-esq barrel proof? Try the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, which receives consistently high ratings from a variety of bourbon sites. Looking for a new, but still attainable, unicorn to chase? Try out the lush Elijah Craig 18-year. Looking for a 10-year age statement? Try out the Henry McKenna 10-year. Full disclaimer here, Henry McKenna 10 year, Elijah Craig 18, and the Old Fitzgerald series are some of my favorite whiskeys.
Today at the Whiskey Wash, we are reviewing the Bernheim Barrel Proof Batch B923. Just their second edition of the series, this barrel proof variant of the regular Bernheim whiskey, like the mainstay, is not a bourbon, but instead a wheat whiskey. Wheat whiskeys must be made of 51% wheat, and then usually they use corn and malted barley to make up the remaining balance. Bourbon by contrast must have 51% corn.
With fairly small offerings on the market, wheat whiskeys remain a niche category. This particular release consists of 51% wheat, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley, which is the same mash bill as the standard model. Aged between 7 and 9 years, it is 120 proof and is still aged for at least two years in charred American Oak barrels.
We review Bernheim Barrel Proof Batch B923, a high proof variant of the regular Bernheim wheat whiskey from Heaven Hill. (image via Heaven Hill)
Nose: Fruitier than a bourbon, with pear, green apple, and cherries gracing the nose. Of course, cinnamon, anise, and cedar are present.
Palate: A very sweet dram with honey and toasted biscuits kicking off the start. Nutmeg and cloves enter a la the charred American Oak barrel. The finish is very smooth with floral orange blossom and a slightly less heavy sandalwood.
Whiskey Review: Bernheim Barrel Proof Batch B923
It walks like a bourbon, it talks like a bourbon, but its…. A wheat whiskey? Not having tried their standard expression, I was taken aback at the similarities it has with most wheated bourbons I’ve had. Yet, Bernheim Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey finds a way to stand clear from the masses with some extra honey and cereal notes and a fantastically light finish, with the high proof being barely noticeable.
If you’re looking for something new this holiday season, this should be on your Christmas list.
I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia....