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Bourbon without rye?

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Bourbon without rye?

Postby jeffk » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:54 pm

I wanted to try some Kentucky Bourbon, so I got some Knob Creek. Not terribly bad, but the rye was very apparent from the first sip. For some reason, rye really rubs me the wrong way and gives me a headache.

Is there such a thing as bourbon without rye? Anyone have any suggestions for a good american whisk(e)y without any evidence of rye?

I hope this isn't too stupid of a question :)
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Postby DaveM » Fri Dec 02, 2005 7:05 pm

Well, there's the new Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. It's a new product from Heaven Hill which contains NO rye in it's mashbill. Since it has less than 51% corn, it is not a bourbon.

You could also try any bourbon which has a high percentage of wheat as a second grain, such as Weller (12, Antique, etc.) or any of the Van Winkle products, the 12 year old possibly being the less spicy of the lot [sic].
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 02, 2005 7:05 pm

It's not a stupid question. There are several bourbons on the market that use wheat instead of rye in addition to the corn and malted barley. The most famous of these is Maker's Mark, but Old Weller and Rip Van Winkle bourbons are also wheated.
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Postby jeffk » Fri Dec 02, 2005 7:07 pm

Thanks Elliot, that's just what I needed. I've heard good things about Makers Mark, I'll see if I can't pick up a bottle and give it a whirl. Thanks!
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Postby DaveM » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:16 pm

While Maker's Mark is indeed a wheated bourbon, it is probably the most over-rated of the bunch that's why I didn't mention it.

It's amazing what a little bit of red wax can do for one's image (insert accolades to their advertising agency here). MM also suffers from a lack of time in the barrel.
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Postby jeffk » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:29 pm

Thanks guys, any other suggestions for a decent wheated bourbon (without rye) that is commonly available, not too expensive, that would be good to try?
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Re: Bourbon without rye?

Postby voigtman » Sat Dec 03, 2005 1:44 am

jeffk wrote:Is there such a thing as bourbon without rye? Anyone have any suggestions for a good american whisk(e)y without any evidence of rye?


IMO, the best bourbon sites are http://www.straightbourbon.com and http://www.BourbonEnthusiast.com. A wealth of information and expertise, all good folks. It really is a good idea (and fun) to go there and read some of the more than 20,000 posts to date. As for your question, no problem answering, but first, the digression.

Bourbons have to be made from a mash containing at least 51% corn (maize). The "small" grains include malted barley AND EITHER rye OR wheat but NOT BOTH (except for one, or possibly 2, exceptions: see below.) Most bourbons are made from mashbills containing corn, with rye and malted barley as "small" grains. A smaller number of bourbons are made from mashbills containing corn, with wheat and malted barley as small grains. The new Woodford Reserve Masters Collection Four Grain Kentucky Straight Bourbon is made from corn, with rye, wheat and malted barley as its small grains. The other possible exception to the "rye or wheat but not both" rule of thumb is Corner Creek bourbon: it might contain corn, with rye, wheat and malted barley as small grains, but the folks at http://www.BourbonEnthusiast.com are currently giving this a good thrashing, so I'm waiting to see how it comes down. Personally, neither of these last two is available to me, so I have no direct knowledge of how they taste.

Now, as to wheaters, I'm sure TNBourbon will give the definitive listing. Meanwhile, there are some excellent choices available. These include all the currently available (not dusty corners) Van Winkle bourbons (10, 12, 15s, 20 and 23 YO), the many W.L. Weller bourbons, the Old Fitzgerald bottlings, the new barrel proof 12 YO William Larue Weller in the current Antique Collection release from Buffalo Trace, and, of course, Maker's Mark releases. Personally, I dislike the standard red wax Maker's, but all the Van Winkles I've tried are varying degrees of outstanding. I have the current Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 YO bourbon open now. The 12 YO Very Special Old Fitzgerald is also very good.

And, if you are in one of the 12 states that got some Bernheim Wheat whiskey, the word is that it is excellent. Sadly, I am not in one of those states. But I just finished a nice pour of Spring, 2005 Lot B George T. Stagg bourbon, so I cannot really complain! Good luck in your bourbon adventure and bear in mind that even if you find one or two duds at first, the next one might be spectacular! Cheers, Ed
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Re: Bourbon without rye?

Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:21 am

voigtman wrote:... there are some excellent choices available. These include all the currently available (not dusty corners) Van Winkle bourbons (10, 12, 15s, 20 and 23 YO), the many W.L. Weller bourbons, the Old Fitzgerald bottlings, the new barrel proof 12 YO William Larue Weller in the current Antique Collection release from Buffalo Trace, and, of course, Maker's Mark releases. Personally, I dislike the standard red wax Maker's, but all the Van Winkles I've tried are varying degrees of outstanding. I have the current Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 YO bourbon open now. The 12 YO Very Special Old Fitzgerald is also very good.

And, if you are in one of the 12 states that got some Bernheim Wheat whiskey, the word is that it is excellent...


Ed's list is pretty comprehensive. Some additions and provisos:
  • Old Fitzgerald has Prime (80 proof) and Bottled In Bond (100 proof) versions, and some older bottlings can be found at 86 proof; there's an Old Fitzgerald 1849 that's sold in only a handful of states
  • Rebel Yell
  • Cabin Still
  • David Nicholson 1843
  • The early bottles (they will appear greenish in tint) of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20- and 23yos were, in fact, from rye-recipe barrels. In the early days of his operation (he has no distillery), Julian Van Winkle had to use what he could get. They are luxurious nonetheless.

Indeed, the Bernheim Original straight wheat whiskey from Heaven Hill is both tasty and different. And, of course, no rye included.
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Postby MGillespie » Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:02 am

I would agree with the recommendation on Bernheim Original Wheat...I tasted it at WhiskyFest and interviewed Parker Beam, the master distiller at Heaven Hill...it's really well-balanced and nice. As soon as I see it on the shelves, I'll be buying it.

Mark
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Postby bamber » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:48 am

WL Weller 12yo - wheated and delicious and great value for money. Very different from Knob Creek, which is marked with Jim Beam IMHO.
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Postby bjorn » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:45 am

DaveM wrote:While Maker's Mark is indeed a wheated bourbon, it is probably the most over-rated of the bunch that's why I didn't mention it.

It's amazing what a little bit of red wax can do for one's image (insert accolades to their advertising agency here). MM also suffers from a lack of time in the barrel.


for what it's worth, i wholeheartedly 2nd this. if you don't believe me try it next to the better priced 12 yr Weller (a fine choice in my book). has anybody tried the 107 (antique)?

-bjorn
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Postby bamber » Tue Dec 06, 2005 11:22 am

I have and it is excellent but quite different to the 12yo. Much more robust and powerful.
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Postby Crispy Critter » Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:09 am

After my previous drams of Sazerac 18yo rye and Hirsch 16yo bourbon, I decided to add a pour of the Weller Antique as well. IMHO, it's one of the better values out there - robust yet smooth, with some spice that's different than the rye-recipe spiciniess of, let's say, OGD 114.

I have an unopened bottle of the barrel-strength William Larue Weller that's going to be opened soon... there's a very interesting review of it on straightbourbon.com, that suggests trying it both at full strength and watered to ~90 proof; it's like two whiskeys in the same bottle.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:23 am

It's a crying shame that Ohio does not carry wheated bourbons apart from Maker's Mark. I purchased one of the last two bottles of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year in the county (and the store was 100 yards from the county line). Thankfully Kentucky is very close and their selection is a bourbon lover's dream come true. With a few exceptions, Ohio is a poorly-run control jurisdiction that is interested more in social engineering and tax revenue than what consumers want.
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Postby Crispy Critter » Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:22 am

Well, tonight I opened the William Larue Weller. Definitely worth the price, and I'd agree with the "two whiskeys in one bottle" review. I first poured it neat, and then I added some water after I drew the glass down some.

Right out of the bottle, it is like the Weller Antique on steroids. Quite bold, with a long-lasting finish, very drinkable neat.

I think I over-watered it... but even then, it stands up well to the dilution. It becomes much softer, but still has a nice finish to it.
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Re: Bourbon without rye?

Postby centrefire » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:48 pm

I assumed that the red wax bottle of Maker's Mark put it in the "tarty" bracket. However, (dispite that fact that there is no rye, I found it compared very well to other bourbons. Think it is actually 6 years old, I find it best neat (no water etc) at 45% abv. Better than standard "Jim Beam", but not quite up to Virginia Gentleman or Johnny Drum 15 YO. Its becoming more available at a good price.
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Re: Bourbon without rye?

Postby Liechtenstein » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:05 pm

JeffK,

Your profile doesn't say where you are but if you live in North Carolina or Virginia, Pick up a bottle of Kopper Kettle, a craft bourbon Made in Virginia. Its mashbill contains only corn, wheat and barley.

http://www.virginiamoonshine.com/copperFox.html
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