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Wheated Bourbon Whiskeys We Absolutely Love In The $15-$85 Range

Wheated bourbon is a pretty broad category. To boil it all down, look at it like this: Generally, wheated bourbon refers to bourbon that’s made with the mash bill of primarily corn, with wheat and malted barley as supporting ingredients. The wheat replaces the usual rye content that most standard bourbons have in their mash bills. That all being said, there are plenty of “four grain” bourbons that have both wheat and rye alongside the usual corn and malted barley.

We’re going to focus on the wheated bourbons today and leave the “four grain” expressions for another day.

The ten bottles below represent a mix of classic and original wheated bourbons from big names like Weller and Heaven Hill, alongside some younger craft distilleries from across the nation who are making quality juice based on wheated bourbon’s traditions. Overall, these wheated bourbons should give you a good introduction to the nuances of the style while expanding your bourbon palate.

If you want to try any of these yourself, click on their prices!

Maker’s Mark

Beam Suntory

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $30

The Whisky:

Maker’s Mark is one of the most iconic and accessible wheated bourbons out there. The mash bill includes red winter wheat in place of the more standard measure of rye. This expression’s juice is then aged for up to seven years before blending, proofing, bottling, and getting that final dip in red wax.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of those heavily charred oak barrel notes next to classic hints of caramel and vanilla with a grassy underbelly. That grassiness becomes vaguely floral as slightly spiced caramel apples arrive, along with a chewy mouthfeel. The end holds onto the fruit and sweetness as the oak and dried grass stays in your senses.

Bottom Line:

You can find this stuff on pretty much every liquor store shelf. But it’s a damn fine bourbon that works as an easy sipper on the rocks or a solid cocktail base.

Larceny Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This brand was devised by Heaven Hill to be the accessible wheated bourbon of the world — Old Fitzgerald and Pappy having long left mass-accessibility behind. The juice is wheated, of course, and small batched with no age statement.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of freshly baked biscuits with butter and toffee dripping from the breadbasket. That butter really becomes creamy as the toffee leads towards rich vanilla, sweet oak, and very slight fruitiness. The real star of the show is the buttery toffee, biscuits, and hint of sweet wood that lingers the most through the short fade.

Bottom Line:

This is a great choice if you’re looking to practice those summer cocktail skills. The flavors run deep and create a great foundation.

Garrison Brothers Small Batch

Garrison Brothers

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Garrison Brothers is a true grain-to-glass experience from Hye, Texas. The juice is a wheated bourbon made with local grains. That spirit is then aged under the beating heat of a hot Texas sun before the barrels are small-batched, proofed with local water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a caramel apple note on the nose next to a bit of dry straw, worn leather, and … what feels like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That cereal nature continues through the palate with a sugary and buttery shortbread note mingling with hints of vanilla cake frosted with lemon cream leading to a touch of orange oils. The end is very long and warm with a bit of cinnamon that ultimately leads back to the caramel apples plus just a touch of dry campfire smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the easiest and boldest sipper on the list, though we prefer it with a rock or two to cool it down. Still, this is a whiskey as wild as Texas and works any way you want to drink it from shots to cocktails.

Old Elk Wheated Bourbon

Old Elk Distillery

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $72

The Whiskey:

This craft whiskey from Colorado takes the idea of wheated bourbon to the very edge of its limits. The mash bill carries a whopping 45 percent wheat, pushing this very close to being a wheated whiskey. The juice is then aged for an undisclosed amount of years before it’s batched and cut down to proof with that soft Rocky Mountain spring water Colorado is known for.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in by a big bowl of vanilla ice cream drizzled with salted caramel sauce next to a very faint hint of dried florals. The palate builds on that ice cream, creating a sundae with crushed almonds, creamy toffee brittle, and a hint of eggnog spice. The end is medium-length with a touch of that buttery sweetness carrying the sip to a warm end.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy sipper, even without water or ice. It also makes for a great cocktail base. In the end, it’s a good example of how far the distiller can push the creaminess of a wheat-forward whiskey.

Weller Special Reserve

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $54

The Whiskey:

This expression from Buffalo Trace’s distillery is the “original” wheated bourbon. The wheat helps the bourbon soften a bit. But you’re really paying for all the knowledge and expertise from Buffalo Trace’s distillers, blenders, and nosers, who join forces to help make this a very approachable bottle of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel creates a foundation on the nose with hints of honey and vanilla. Notes of butterscotch arrive alongside more honey, soft cedar, and a distant echo of florals. The wood and vanilla return and mingle with the honey as the long, warming finish (that classic “Kentucky hug”) takes its time coming and going.

Bottom Line:

This is where every wheated whiskey journey should probably begin (or end) since this is the “original.” Hell, this is where Pappy got his recipe for Van Winkle, giving this juice the nickname, “The Poor Man’s Pappy.”

1792 Sweet Wheat

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45.6%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

This whiskey hails from the Barton 1792 Distillery and uses its bespoke yeast to distill a rumored “high-wheat” bourbon. The juice is aged for an undisclosed amount of time before it’s batched, proofed, and bottled in 1792 classy throwback art deco bottles.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a blend of fruit on the nose — orange zest and ripe red cherry — that mixes with holiday spices and a touch of soft cedar. The taste has a soft vanilla/caramel vibe next to more cedar, prunes, and roasted almonds all leading towards a silken mouthfeel. The end is creamy vanilla pudding with caramel sauce next to pops of cedar, spice, and an old leather tobacco pouch.

Bottom Line:

This is freakin’ smooth. There’s nary a rough edge and you’re left with a soft and embracing whiskey sipping experience. This also slays in a Manhattan.

Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch

Wyoming Whiskey

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $44

The Whiskey:

This small-town craft distillery is making some of the finest grain-to-glass whiskey on the market. Their signature bourbon is a wheated bourbon that utilizes grains grown within 100 miles of the Wyoming distillery. The juice is aged for at least four years before it’s small-batched, proofed with local water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The vanilla and caramel on the nose are creamy to the point of feeling like a stiff pudding with a hint of wildflowers. The palate holds onto those flowers and pudding while adding cinnamon sticks warming in browned butter with a note of cedar. That spice broadens out to a Christmas spice vibe as a buttery toffee sweetness and mouthfeel lead you toward a finish that’s just the right length.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy sipper that has a little crafty funkiness with those floral notes. It’s interesting while still being 100 percent accessible, sippable, and mixable.

Redemption Wheated Bourbon

Redemption

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $44

The Whiskey:

This release from Redemption is their take on MGP’s 45 percent winter wheat bourbon. Redemption’s team brings four-year-old barrels in-house and then masterfully blends them in small batches until they get just the right notes.

Tasting Notes:

That crafty wheat floral note greets you and then leans into brisket with hints of bitter coffee and a touch of nougat, cedar, and vanilla bean. The palate holds onto those notes while swerving towards a peppery spice blend with almost a lime leaf savoriness. The end is long and has a slightly warm biscuit edge that circles back towards the nougat and vanilla.

Bottom Line:

The high levels of wheat really make this a unique sip of whiskey. None of the notes overwhelm and all make a certain sort of sense in the glass, especially with a little water or ice.

Smooth Ambler Big Level Wheated Bourbon

Smooth Ambler

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler Big Level feels like a classic wheated bourbon. The mash bill utilizes 21 percent winter wheat. The juice is aged for five long years before the whiskey is batched, slightly proofed with soft water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This is distinctly nutty with a real pecan pie vibe with Caro corn syrup holding the pie filling together and a lard pie crust supporting that filling. The taste holds onto that but it becomes more of a pecan waffle with pancake syrup, butter, and mild eggnog spices that’s damn close to a Waffle House pecan waffle. The sweetness and butter combine for a toffee finish that’s mildly warm and very soft.

Bottom Line:

This is sweet and nutty with a malty base. It’s really hard not to love if you’re looking for something a little like a warm hug on a cold day.

Old Fitzgerald Prime

Heaven Hill

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $14

The Whiskey:

Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Prime is the entry point to the extremely high highpoints of the Old Fitz’s bottled-in-bond decanters. This is pretty standard stuff that’s made to be drunk. There’s a 20 percent wheated mash bill, standard aging and batching, and, as you can see, it’s cheap.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a distinct minty vibe on the nose that’s more like gum than fresh sprigs that leads towards a caramel corn whiff. The palate sort of reminds you of sugar cookies dotted with those hard silver candy ball things with a touch of candied corn and slight tobacco warmth. The end is pretty soft with hints back towards the mint and one last caramel corn flourish.

Bottom Line:

This is a workhorse whiskey. Yes, you can drink it on the rocks or in a highball if you’re in a hurry. But really, this is a mixer that’s cheap. Though, you might have to go to Kentucky to find it at exactly this price.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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