What Is A Wheated Bourbon?

Are you curious to know what is a wheated bourbon? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about a wheated bourbon in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is a wheated bourbon?

Bourbon, with its rich history and complex flavors, has become a beloved spirit worldwide. Within the world of bourbon, there exists a distinctive category known as “wheated bourbon,” characterized by its unique grain bill. In this blog post, we will explore what wheated bourbon is, its history, flavor profile, and why it holds a special place in the hearts of whiskey enthusiasts.

What Is A Wheated Bourbon?

Wheated bourbon, as the name suggests, is a type of bourbon whiskey that differs from traditional bourbons in its grain recipe. While traditional bourbons primarily use a grain mixture known as the “mash bill” that includes corn, rye, and malted barley, wheated bourbon replaces the rye with wheat as the secondary grain. In a standard bourbon recipe, the mash bill typically consists of approximately 70-80% corn, 10-20% rye, and 5-10% malted barley. In wheated bourbon, the rye is replaced with wheat, creating a mash bill with a higher wheat content.

Key Components Of Wheated Bourbon:

  1. Corn: Wheated bourbons still have a substantial corn content, as is required by law to be called bourbon. Corn contributes to the whiskey’s sweetness.
  2. Wheat: The use of wheat instead of rye in the grain mix gives wheated bourbon its distinctive flavor and texture.
  3. Malted Barley: Malted barley remains a vital component for its role in fermentation.

Historical Background

Wheated bourbon has a rich history, and its origins can be traced back to some of the most iconic bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. The most famous example is Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, which is renowned for its wheated bourbon recipe. The Van Winkle family has played a pivotal role in popularizing this style of bourbon.

Flavor Profile

Wheated bourbon is often celebrated for its unique flavor profile, which is characterized by its smoothness, sweetness, and delicate spiciness. The absence of rye, which typically imparts a peppery or spicy note to traditional bourbons, allows the wheat to shine through. Common tasting notes associated with wheated bourbon include:

  1. Sweetness: Wheated bourbons are known for their pronounced sweetness, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and butterscotch often prominent.
  2. Smoothness: The use of wheat contributes to a smoother and softer mouthfeel compared to bourbons with a higher rye content.
  3. Fruitiness: Wheated bourbons may exhibit fruity notes such as cherry, apple, or dried fruit.
  4. Spice: While less spicy than their rye-heavy counterparts, wheated bourbons may still have subtle spice and oak notes.
  5. Long Finish: Wheated bourbons tend to offer a long and satisfying finish, with lingering sweetness and complexity.

Notable Wheated Bourbons

  1. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve: Perhaps the most famous wheated bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs.
  2. Maker’s Mark: Maker’s Mark is known for its signature red wax-sealed bottles and its approachable wheated bourbon.
  3. W.L. Weller: W.L. Weller bourbons, including the Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique, are excellent examples of wheated bourbon and offer a range of flavor profiles.


Wheated bourbon, with its unique grain bill, provides a distinct and enjoyable experience for bourbon enthusiasts. Its smoothness, sweetness, and memorable flavor profile make it a cherished category within the world of whiskey. Whether you’re sipping a classic like Pappy Van Winkle’s or exploring the nuances of other wheated bourbons, this style offers a delightful journey through the world of fine spirits.

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What Is The Difference Between Wheated Bourbon And Regular Bourbon?

Bourbon must legally be made from a mash bill of at least 51% corn, with the rest usually being a mixture of barley and rye. But there’s an unofficial subcategory of bourbon called “wheated.” This means that the rye is swapped out with wheat, giving the whiskey what is often described as a softer, sweeter profile.

Is Maker’s Mark A Wheated Bourbon?

Maker’s Mark is a wheated bourbon, meaning that while corn makes up most of the grain mash (minimum 51%), wheat is used instead of rye as a secondary grain. Other well known wheated bourbons include the “Pappy” line of bourbons, the “Weller” line of bourbons, and Larceny.

How Do Wheated Bourbons Differ From Bourbons That Use Rye?

The fruitiness of the flavor wheel tends to pull forward a little more with wheat bourbons than with high-rye bourbons. It’s also less aggressive than rye and tends to be more of a front-of-the-tongue experience. The mouthfeel of wheat is also creamier and less prickly than rye.

Is Buffalo Trace A Wheated Bourbon?

Buffalo Trace uses soft red winter wheat in its wheated mash bill, including in the coveted Van Winkle and Weller lines. Other well-known examples of wheated bourbons include Maker’s Mark and Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald.

Does Barton Bourbon have wheat?