Classification: Straight Wheat Whiskey
Company: Bernheim Distillery (Heaven Hill)
Distillery: Bernheim Distillery (Heaven Hill)
Release Date: September 2023
Age: 7-9 Years
Mashbill: 51% Wheat, 37% Corn, 12% Malted Barley
Color: Reddish Amber
MSRP: $65 / 750mL (2023)
Sweet bread | Pastry crust | Apple cider | Cinnamon | Leather | Slightly astringent
Fireball candy | Brown sugar | Tannic oak | Leather | Slight creaminess | Astringency increases throughout
Astringency peaks | Burnt brown sugar | Oak tannins compete with sweetness | Savory | Very long
The second release in the series, Batch B923 proves barrel proof wheat whiskey can be a tricky endeavor.
In February 2023, the first batch of Bernheim Original Barrel Proof Wheat Whiskey joined Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Larceny Barrel Proof as a barrel proof whiskey that will be released throughout the year in uniquely numbered batches. Unlike those two whiskeys however, Bernheim Original Barrel Proof Wheat Whiskey will only be released twice per year versus three times per year.
Batch B923 marks the second release for the brand, and comes in just slightly higher in proof than the first batch. As expected, it shares the same age statement as the first batch, though unlike Elijah Craig Barrel Proof we don’t know the exact age (it could be more than what’s stated, but not less). The aroma kicks off nicely with sweet bread, pastry crust, apple cider, cinnamon, and leather up front. A slight astringency is present, but doesn’t overpower the other scents. The palate brings some heat, with Fireball candy, and an increasing astringency note. Brown sugar, tannic oak, and leather provide some complexity. It has a nice creaminess, but comes across as slightly harsh as a result of the astringency, which finally peaks as it transitions into the finish. A pleasant brown sugar note emerges, but oak tannins ramp up in contrast. It lasts for a very long time and finds an enjoyable savory note as it trails off.
Batch B923 is enjoyable overall, but it’s a bumpier ride than its predecessor. It ricochets between sweet and astringent, tannic flavors, with the astringent side being a bit more heavy-handed. What’s interesting is the finish would be incredible if not for the astringency up front. Barrel proof wheat whiskeys are few and far between, making it a relatively unexplored category. With that, it’s exciting to see Heaven Hill doubling down on it, and they’ve proven they can produce a tremendous wheat whiskey product. Batch B923 shows a lot of promise and it’s a fun contrast against the first batch (some may even enjoy it more). But it reveals the issues that can emerge when you go high wheat in the mashbill, and given the upward trajectory Elijah Craigh Barrel Proof and Larceny Barrel Proof have taken over the years, will likely be far from the overall quality of future batches.