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View Full Version : Rye or Wheat based bourbons, what is you're choice?



WildernessTrace
04-14-2013, 07:09
As we begin reviewing our production schedule we are interested to hear more about bourbon drinkers choices.. Rye or Wheat or both? We enjoy both wheat and Rye based but if I had to pick my personal favorite is a wheat based.

As everyone knows there are bourbons at various proofs.. What is you're favorite? Again so many great bourbons but I tend to look for 86-94 proof for my taste.

thank you for any feedback,
Shane Baker

Danger
04-14-2013, 07:17
I don't discriminate. But my feeling is that there are a lot of bad wheat bourbons out there, and I find most of them too timid. That said, the very best bourbons I've ever had are wheaters. So there is big variation among them. The rye bourbons are usually all pretty good, and to me its a safe bet and I usually find the profile familiar.

Basically, wheat has the potential for greatness but many times winds up not even good, whereas rye always comes out pretty tasty but very rarely exceptional.

What are you guys making now?

MyOldKyDram
04-14-2013, 07:36
Enjoy both but prefer the high rye recipes, for sure.

WildernessTrace
04-14-2013, 07:49
We are not in production yet, we still have a few months to go before start up. Our current mash bill(s) are both a wheat and Rye bourbon. We were considering splitting production but always looking into that cloudy crystal ball for better answers.

Most of our research production has been with wheat as I agree, Rye's are typically more predictable.. So far our #4 mash bill is a winner amongst a few master distillers private tasting of our unaged bourbon, when compared to other unaged bourbons..(ready to barrel that is).. But time will only tell..

squire
04-14-2013, 07:50
Good morning Shane, since you asked I'll share some thoughts. My preference is for a lean, high rye Bourbon in a dryer style, packed with flavor, fully aged and 100 proof. But that's already being done on a mass production basis with an economy of scale and a price point a small producer can't match.

If I had the skill to make whisky and the ambition to bring it to market I would go another route. A softer, sweeter, nutty style rich with caramel and oak, something with wheat rather than rye, full of flavor yet easily approachable, at around 80 proof. Something that works well in a snifter yet shines in a cocktail. I wouldn't even bother with trying to make it a legally defined Bourbon, rather I would use a grain mix that gave me the best result. How about 45% corn, 45% wheat and 10% malt. Or even 40% malt and 15% wheat. When I found the right flavor profile I would let it age until fully ready before putting it on the market as something special.

The market is full of high quality value priced Bourbon so I wouldn't even try to compete with that, rather I would offer customers something they couldn't routinely grab off a shelf just about anywhere liquor is sold.

WAINWRIGHT
04-14-2013, 07:50
I like both as well as for the high rye based I have a tendency to give FR's the nod and with older wheaters the Weller's and PVW's always find their way to the top of my list.I would add that rye for me anyway tend to show better at a younger age whereas wheaters the sky seems to be the limit.

WildernessTrace
04-14-2013, 08:03
Thank you again, very good view points and this will be apart of our discussion Monday.. We have tried to approach with a more unique product through our process as well as our relationship with our grain farmer and mash bills. We have messed around with various mash bills and there are a few that were added to the list, with our flexibility we wanted to possibly offer some variances, but our limited production just has us "measuring three times and cut once approach"..

CoMobourbon
04-14-2013, 08:04
Good morning Shane, since you asked I'll share some thoughts. My preference is for a lean, high rye Bourbon in a dryer style, packed with flavor, fully aged and 100 proof. But that's already being done on a mass production basis with an economy of scale and a price point a small producer can't match.

If I had the skill to make whisky and the ambition to bring it to market I would go another route. A softer, sweeter, nutty style rich with caramel and oak, something with wheat rather than rye, full of flavor yet easily approachable, at around 80 proof. Something that works well in a snifter yet shines in a cocktail. I wouldn't even bother with trying to make it a legally defined Bourbon, rather I would use a grain mix that gave me the best result. How about 45% corn, 45% wheat and 10% malt. Or even 40% malt and 15% wheat. When I found the right flavor profile I would let it age until fully ready before putting it on the market as something special.

The market is full of high quality value priced Bourbon so I wouldn't even try to compete with that, rather I would offer customers something they couldn't routinely grab off a shelf just about anywhere liquor is sold.

I would agree with the sentiment behind this post: go for something distinctive. If a rye bourbon, make it ~ 40%+ rye - even more than FR. If a wheated bourbon, make it distinctively well aged and aged stated so as to supersede competition with the high value WSRs, OWAs,and Larcenys of the world. There are a lot of high quality, well-priced safe options (i.e. those that most people tend to like) out there already. Go for something unique but still good. (simple task, right?:grin:)

I suppose I gave away my preferences with the above examples; when it comes to rye bourbon, I like it high rye (e.g. FR and OGD), and when it comes to wheat bourbons, I like it to be significantly older than it has to be (e.g. Weller 12). Regarding the question: rye bourbons are generally more reliable, so I usually go for those. But I feel like there are a lot of excellent,nicely priced, and widely available rye bourbons out there already.

MyOldKyDram
04-14-2013, 08:30
I also like the idea of offering up something unique. Tough to compete with the big boys with the traditional stuff. Either way, just offer up a good, flavorful product at a fair price and you'll win your fair share of fans here, and elsewhere too I would imagine.

squire
04-14-2013, 08:48
I'd like to see a revival of the traditional American style of pure malt whisky.

Alden
04-14-2013, 10:31
I'd like to see a revival of the traditional American style of pure malt whisky.

THAT would be interesting.

I seem to gravitate towards rye, or high rye, but some wheaters are very good too. I like the earthiness and in your face flavors of rye.

But for wheaters, I really like Wellers 12, for example.

WsmataU
04-14-2013, 11:12
I'm a wheat guy and I understand that what I'd like is not necessarily the most cost effective way to market a new product....but since you asked :

What about a bonded wheat somewhere between 10-15 years? Since bigger distilleries are moving away from age statements and keeping proofs low,, you might just hit a niche. Especially if you could sell it at or below the $50 mark!

tanstaafl2
04-14-2013, 12:16
I'd like to see a revival of the traditional American style of pure malt whisky.

What constitutes traditional American style? No peat or other smoke influence?

Seems like I have seen more American malt whiskeys in the last few months than I have ever seen before. Some have been doing it for quite a while. St. George has been making a single malt for some time now, if at something of a premium in cost.

And I presume you mean barley? Anchor/Old Potrero has been doing a single malt rye with several variations for some time now that is supposedly trying to recreate a classic American whiskey style of the past.

squire
04-14-2013, 12:35
Actually I was referring to the styles of malt or pure malt whiskys made by American distillers prior to Prohibition but that subject deserves a new thread over on the other American whisky forum.

petrel800
04-15-2013, 14:49
Personally, I enjoy both.

I'd be interested in participated in the distillery's journey to a properly aged product, whether it be wheat or rye based. A small release at a year, 2 years, and so on till we get to what you consider to be a properly aged product. Maybe released in a 375ml bottle. I would be interested in tasting the progression to the final product. Barrel proof if possible, but definitely no lower than 100 proof. I steer clear of most of the small barrel craft stuff, I haven't found that I enjoy them, one, and two, while some might, I disagree with the notion it somehow speeds up the aging process in making a traditional bourbon. If traditional bourbon is not your end game, that's cool, but just let me know up front.

I think tasting the progression would be neat, but I'm not sure if it would be realistic with all the labels and fillings with the .gov.

Alden
04-15-2013, 16:27
BTW, "you're" is a contraction for "you are". Look at the title of this thread.

Sorry, it just drives me nuts. :skep:

MyOldKyDram
04-15-2013, 16:28
Gotta let the grammar slide around here. Most of us is drunk.

Alden
04-15-2013, 16:35
Gotta let the grammar slide around here. Most of us is drunk.

:slappin::lol: :grin: :bigeyes:

Richnimrod
04-15-2013, 16:42
In my admittedly parochial opinion, the wheaters are great, or near great only after about 7- or 8-years. There are of course exceptions; but most wheaters are too mild (boring) when young. Some are still a little mild even at 12-years (Weller-12). Rye-based bourbons can be quite nice and UNIQUE (that's the key) depending upon aging position in as little as 4- or 5-years. Rye recipes left too long in outside/high rick positions can become too oaky in long aging. I believe wheaters are more forgiving in that regard. Just one man's experience/opinion. :rolleyes: Soooooo, to sum up I like 'em both, depending how they're aged, I guess. :cool:

kyrocklover
04-15-2013, 17:06
My personal preference would be a rye based bourbon between 94-106 proof. Something like a 57/38/5 mix with a #3 char.

tigerlam92
04-15-2013, 21:44
Great wheat bourbon only here.

Thanks
Hugh

TomH
04-16-2013, 12:08
I guess I would be firmly in the wheater camp with my bourbon bunker containing 67% wheaters to 33% rye bourbons

JPBoston
04-16-2013, 12:43
I like both pretty much equally. Wish there were more reasonably priced, upper-shelf Wheaters available, though (such as KC, OGD 114, FRSmB in the rye camp).

Now that I think of it, I don't know any wheaters in that 25 to 35 dollar price range. But maybe I haven't been looking hard enough.

fishnbowljoe
04-16-2013, 15:03
Most of the people that have been around here a while know my preferences. But for all you new folks, I love me some wheaters. :yum: Yes the t-shirt will be worn again at the Sampler. :rolleyes:

FWIW, I'm having some Weller 12 as I post this. :grin:

Cheers! Joe

gblick
04-16-2013, 23:04
My favorites are wheaters at 107 proof and 7+ years old.

Special Reserve
04-17-2013, 01:59
Most of the people that have been around here a while know my preferences. But for all you new folks, I love me some wheaters. :yum: Yes the t-shirt will be worn again at the Sampler. :rolleyes:

FWIW, I'm having some Weller 12 as I post this. :grin:

Cheers! Joe

Nice picture Joe!

ratcheer
04-17-2013, 05:24
I much prefer high rye bourbons, especially the RHF/Blanton's/ETL, Wild Turkey, and Old Grand Dad brands.

Tim

darylld911
04-17-2013, 09:53
I am definitely more of a rye kind of guy. I wouldn't be afraid to go above 100 proof, and I like the earlier suggestion of a 40% rye mashbill.

WildernessTrace
04-17-2013, 14:07
Sounds like we are on a good path of both a wheat and rye Bourbon that we have planned, which will be properly aged and at 90 proof! There are so many options but as most have noted, we are really striving for the best taste period, whatever that takes. We are not really trying to follow a traditional path, again just the best path of best practices and no shortcuts to get a quality spirit. We really appreciate the feedback from everyone, its very important to listen to the ideas, questions and criticism so that we stay focused in the right direction. "also sorry for the grammar mistake.. I will take ownership of that "I'm an mechanical engineer by trade", you should see my coffee cup.. it makes fun at trying to spell "I'm an engineer" several times..

black mamba
04-17-2013, 22:08
I prefer rye whiskey to wheat whiskey, and agree totally with the previous statement that wheaters take longer to mature. I know the positioning in the rick house makes a big difference, but RR BIB tastes mature to me at 4 years, many rye bourbons taste mature at 6, but wheaters need at least 7, and older is better.

PVW 20 is the best bourbon I've ever had, and my house wheater of choice is a blend of VSOF12 and DN1843 BIB half and half, so 95 pf. But I drink rye bourbon at least 4-1 over wheaters, with HH and 4R being my favorites.

tylermke
04-18-2013, 20:27
I am a wheater, but don't shy away from ryes. I like wheaters for sipping and ryes in my cocktails.

Chris24
04-19-2013, 23:51
Rye. .

HighInTheMtns
04-20-2013, 00:09
Make the whiskey you're most interested in making. There's a market for both traditional and wheated bourbons... Make what appeals most to you so that your final product will reflect its maker.

hn4bourbon
06-23-2013, 01:39
Make the whiskey you're most interested in making. There's a market for both traditional and wheated bourbons... Make what appeals most to you so that your final product will reflect its maker.

This is great advice! Strive for excellence in what you're most passionate in and the results will show through in your product.

sutton
06-23-2013, 04:56
I also think that wheat-based bourbon is going to take longer to become distinctive, and even then you'll have competition getting on the shelf at a competitive price. Of the "younger" wheaters (MM, WSR, OWA, Larceny), Larceny is more interesting to me since my taste does tend toward rye-based bourbon and Larceny seems to have more spice and better balance, where OWA can be thin/hot to me at times.

I'll echo squire's earlier comments that I'd be interested in a unique mashbill (not necessarily bourbon specs) and even fooling with a mix of new and used cooperage to let the distillate continue to come through even at a higher age. But I can understand how some of these demands may not be economically feasible to get your cash flow moving - I also agree with earlier comments that you should do what you feel you make best and adhere to quality at every step of the process. If you produce a unique and interesting product, most here will give it a try and you'll find your market.

ethangsmith
06-23-2013, 06:00
I'm going to firmly vote for a rye-based bourbon. I find wheat-based bourbons to be lacking in robust flavor and to be too simple and sweet unless aged for over a decade. It seems the general trend in American whiskey drinking is towards more robust, medium aged whiskies and I don't think a wheat-based bourbon will deliver that.

squire
06-23-2013, 08:49
I agree Ethan but would say flavorful rather than robust.

Cigar Dan
06-23-2013, 16:50
Love both, but I have to give the nod to rye based bourbons.


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smknjoe
06-23-2013, 19:32
I am a wheater, but don't shy away from ryes. I like wheaters for sipping and ryes in my cocktails.

Hope you're not putting that Stagg in a cocktail.

I like both styles but if you take look at my stash you will see more ryed bourbons than wheated.

bontrager
06-23-2013, 20:36
Enjoy many ryes, but wheat is my favorite.

JLH3
06-23-2013, 21:47
My answer is yes.

humchan2k
06-24-2013, 09:25
I am 100% a high rye guy. Like others have said, it takes a VERY special wheater whiskey for it to be memorable, but a good rye recipe is always going to be enjoyable, at the very least. There's also no better bourbon out there than RHF/Blanton's for less than $50, so that's my benchmark of quality. I also just simply like rye whiskey better than bourbon, so there you go. That being said, the 95/5 ryes out there like the WhistlePig brands don't have enough backbone to them, they're all spice and then water. If I could make my own whiskey, which I would KILL to do, I'd go with a 6-8 year rye whiskey with 80/15/5, but if I were making a high rye bourbon, I'd like to second the other dudes who said make one with over 40% rye, like a 51% corn, 45% rye, 4% wheat....that sounds good!

weller_tex
06-24-2013, 13:00
I like both but I'd give the edge to wheaters. I love MM, MM46, Larceny, and Weller 12. WSR and OWA are a step behind because over the last couple of years they seem to taste younger and youger and pretty much just a lot of sweetness. MM is just as young but has a lot more savory notes and has that nice chocolaty finish.

In a rye bourbon, it tends to be a high rye recipe like OGD 114 and Four Roses, although I do appreciate the older Beam products.

WAINWRIGHT
06-24-2013, 16:45
I enjoy both wheated and rye based bourbons.Under 8 years or even 10 I will usually prefer a rye as a flavor grain and the older the better when it comes to wheaters for me.I just really believe that the wheaters definitely age more gracefully as both pass into their teen years and a sweet,rich and woody wheater really comes into its own and just suits me to a tee.

gcsjr
08-05-2013, 18:15
I've found in my limited experience that rye-based bourbons are definitely my favorite. Really enjoy the basic BIBs.

TunnelTiger
08-05-2013, 18:20
Love them both and although from day to day my palete likes one over the other. Either way it's all good for me!

Tucker
08-05-2013, 18:55
I drank Weller (SR and Antique, then 12) and Old Fitz exclusively for many years, but have switched over the past few years to a preference for anything from Four Roses.

wmpevans
08-05-2013, 20:05
Varies for me based on what I'm in mood for. If I want something a little easy and soft I reach for a wheater. If I want something with a little more challenging or with more spice, or more of an edge to it, a ryed bourbon fits the bill.

One of the many great things about bourbon: a very broad range of tastes and profiles which can fit almost any mood or any palate.

Restaurant man
08-05-2013, 21:02
Varies for me based on what I'm in mood for. If I want something a little easy and soft I reach for a wheater. If I want something with a little more challenging or with more spice, or more of an edge to it, a ryed bourbon fits the bill.

One of the many great things about bourbon: a very broad range of tastes and profiles which can fit almost any mood or any palate.

I'm with bill. Ryed bourbon to me is like a great Cabernet. When I'm thinking Pinot I go for a wheater. And when I can't decide, I have both. Wash rinse repeat!

WhiskyRI
08-18-2013, 05:23
It depends. Sometimes I really like Wheat-based and other times Rye-based. Depends on what I'm in the mood for. Roughstock in Montana is making some good pure Malt whisky. It's worth tasting if you find it. Plus you can even help bottle it if you are passing through Bozeman on a Bottling Saturday.

gooneygoogoo
08-18-2013, 06:19
I really enjoy both but wanted to ask a question. What type of still are you using? I am just wondering if there are any wheaters currently that are made in a pot still??? I don't know a lot about the technical aspects of all of the brands out there now but I do know that I pick up a distinct nuttiness from some of the pot still whiskeys I have tasted and it might be interesting to see how that would play with a wheat based recipe. Again there may be several options out there now that fit that bill...I just don't know. As for proof I tend to enjoy it around 100-110.

AGarrison
08-18-2013, 06:37
As someone just starting out with whiskey, I find the wheaters easier to appreciate. I am starting to like some common ryes as well (Russels Reserve, FourRoses OBxx). I love the fact there are so many choices out there. It will take years to try them all.