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No Chaser
08-09-2007, 22:17
What are the differences between wheat and rye bourbon? What are some of each that you would suggest? Once and for all, I'd like to have a good explanation of this. If there's already a thread, just direct me to it.

barturtle
08-10-2007, 06:24
This (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7043) may be a start.

What to suggest...

wheat:
Weller 107 and 12yo
Old Fitz BIB and 12yo

Rye:
High Rye: OGD 114, Basil Hayden
Low Rye: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare SB, Stagg
Other Rye: Elijah Craig 12, 1792, Bakers....this is a long list actually

Also you may want to try Bernhiem, which is a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey side by side. I'd go with Sazerac or Rittenhouse.

mozilla
08-10-2007, 07:01
Consider bourbon to be liquid bread. If you have had wheat and rye bread, then you already know the difference.
Even if every distiller used the same recipe, the bourbon would turn out differently. All are great, some better than others. So, try all the bourbons you can.....and don't worry about the particular qualities of the grains. You will figure out which are better for you in the long run.
Jeff Mo.

ggilbertva
08-10-2007, 07:33
Consider bourbon to be liquid bread. If you have had wheat and rye bread, then you already know the difference.
Even if every distiller used the same recipe, the bourbon would turn out differently. All are great, some better than others. So, try all the bourbons you can.....and don't worry about the particular qualities of the grains. You will figure out which are better for you in the long run.
Jeff Mo.

Jeff's right. Sample all that you can. I personally dislike Rye bread but like some Rye Whiskey's (Saz Jr., Rittenhouse). I tend to lean toward sweeter wheated bourbons but don't limit myself to just those.

So, in a wheat based bourbon you will typically find a sweeter palate, lighter nose

In Rye based bourbons you will typically find spicy palate, stronger nose

If course this is extremely simplistic but you get the idea. Proof, age, level of char all factor into the color, nose and taste.

ILLfarmboy
08-10-2007, 18:23
If you taste WT 101 up against WT Rye It'll help you suss out rye's influence on ryed bourbon. Then taste a typical wheater like Weller Antique and all will be revealed.

luv2hunt
08-11-2007, 15:56
Keeping it simple: Sweet vs Spicey

Dawn

CrispyCritter
08-11-2007, 21:28
Less simple: I've noticed some wheaters (like PVW 15, or ORVW 15) that have quite a spicy character to them. Even then, though, there's a certain mellowness in wheaters that is quite different from similarly-aged rye-based bourbons.

cowdery
08-11-2007, 22:16
All of the answers above are correct, but No Chaser may be looking for something even more fundamental.

All bourbons are mostly corn and they all contain a little barley malt, to cause saccarification. The rest is what's called a flavor grain, which can be as little as 8% and as much as 30% of the mash. The most common bourbon flavor grain is rye and the most popular alternative is wheat.

They're there for flavor and each flavors the drink a little differently.

Rye-recipe bourbons and wheat-recipe bourbons should not be confused with straight rye whiskey or straight wheat whiskey, which have either rye or wheat as the principal grain.

T47
08-12-2007, 14:01
Chuck,
Funny you mention this saccarification process. I have recently been reading about Irish Whiskey and Scotch production both of which seem to rely much more on Malted Barley. I went back to your book and read about the addition of Malted Barley to the mash, and you say it does not add significantly to the flavor, is that because so little is used? Can corn or wheat be malted to achieve the same chemical reaction? Are there Bourbons which use more malted barley than another to effect flavor?

:toast:

Gillman
08-12-2007, 14:09
I thought Chuck wouldn't mind if I give my own thoughts on this.

Corn and wheat, and any grain, can be malted. However, the process is trickier than with barley. Experience has shown the best results are achieved by combining unmalted corn and rye (or wheat) with a small amount of malted barley whose enzymes are able to convert the starches in the hydrolized corn and wheat/rye to fermentable sugars. Enzyme can be added "chemically", and in fact under the Canadian definition of whisky, this is allowed, i.e., as an alternative to use of malted barley to provide the requited diastasic action.

Does barley lend flavor? Without a doubt (as one can see by comparing Scots or Irish malt whiskies to grain whisky or blended whiskies).

In the 1960's, Charlie Thomasson, an old-time practical distiller, bemoaned the tendency in modern U.S. bourbon production to stint on barley malt due to its cost.

I think increased barley malt lends additional body and flavor to whisky.

This can be demonstrated after a fashion by adding some non-peated malt whisky to any bourbon.

Last night I sampled a 12 year old Tamnavulin; this would be ideal for the purpose.

Gary

Gillman
08-12-2007, 14:27
I was going to edit my previous post to fix the typo, "requited" to what I had originally intended, "required".

And then I thought, by the serendipity of it, requited works just as well...

Gary

TBoner
08-12-2007, 14:55
Agreed on all points, Gary.

IIRC, Chuck has said that 1792 is one of the higher-barley recipes out there. Try tasting it next to a mid-shelf pour with less barley. I think barley does a nice job of adding body and mouthfeel without the overt sweetness of corn or spice and oiliness of rye.

mgilbertva
08-12-2007, 15:54
Can corn or wheat be malted to achieve the same chemical reaction? Are there Bourbons which use more malted barley than another to effect flavor?

Old Potrero uses uses rye malt for it's pure rye whiskey, as do some Canadian "ryes." See this page (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7074&page=2) for more detail. However, I don't recommend OP if you're just starting out.

As for whether I like wheat or rye mashbills better - I love 'em both. I suppose if I have to choose I lean towards rye-flavored bourbons, but it really depends on the mood I'm in. A couple of my all-time favorites have been mentioned: W.L Weller 7yr 107 proof and Old Grand-Dad BIB (I haven't opened my bottle of 114 proof yet). Of course if you can get your hands on an old Stitzel-Weller Old Fitz BIB or ND-era OGD, now you've got something (lots on these in the Collectibles section).

Most people here, including me, don't care for Basel Hayden even though it's the same recipe as Old Grand-Dad and it's aged 8 years, because it's too watered down at 80 proof. I'd love to try a barrel strength Basel, though.

T47
08-12-2007, 16:42
Corn and wheat, and any grain, can be malted. However, the process is trickier than with barley. Experience has shown the best results are achieved by combining unmalted corn and rye (or wheat) with a small amount of malted barley whose enzymes are able to convert the starches in the hydrolized corn and wheat/rye to fermentable sugars. Enzyme can be added "chemically", and in fact under the Canadian definition of whisky, this is allowed, i.e., as an alternative to use of malted barley to provide the requited diastasic action.
Does barley lend flavor? Without a doubt (as one can see by comparing Scots or Irish malt whiskies to grain whisky or blended whiskies).
I think increased barley malt lends additional body and flavor to whisky.
This can be demonstrated after a fashion by adding some non-peated malt whisky to any bourbon.Gary

As always Gary, informative and interesting, thanks for the information.


Agreed on all points, Gary.
IIRC, Chuck has said that 1792 is one of the higher-barley recipes out there. Try tasting it next to a mid-shelf pour with less barley. I think barley does a nice job of adding body and mouthfeel without the overt sweetness of corn or spice and oiliness of rye.

I will have to revisit 1792, as it has been a long time since I had any.


Old Potrero uses uses rye malt for it's pure rye whiskey, as do some Canadian "ryes." Most people here, including me, don't care for Basel Hayden even though it's the same recipe as Old Grand-Dad and it's aged 8 years, because it's too watered down at 80 proof. I'd love to try a barrel strength Basel, though.

I have kept my eye out for Old Portero to give it a try. Kind of like Bernheim Original, I would like to have a bottle as it is so different, but here in WA it goes for $101, so it's not likely to see my shelf any time soon. I actually don't mind the Bernheim, and several of my guests have very much enjoyed the smooth flavor.
I guess I need to do more searching on "recipes". I had no idea Basil Hayden and OGD were the same recipe? I found Basil Hayden a little bland for the $37 they want for it here.

Always an excellent education.
:toast:

Gillman
08-12-2007, 18:44
Thanks, I agree 1792 seems to benefit from the extra dollop of malted barley added.

Potrero does offer the taste of malted rye, however due to its youth and/or not being aged all that long in new charred wood, I find the ideal combination of malted rye and new charred wood aging is lacking. Still, an interesting whiskey in all its various forms.

Gary

Rughi
08-14-2007, 09:10
This may have been more appropriate in the mashbill discussion than in this forum, but here's my take:

I think the key to wheat is that it essentially makes the mashbill "less", leaving the oak to play a larger part. The mashbill is less spicy, less sweet, drier and has a lighter body. Bernheim wheat is a perfect example of this. Wheat summer beers are another good example of a light and dry grainbill (the clove character of many wheat beers is the yeast, not a part of the wheat itself).

Less Spicy
Wheat is definitely less spicy than rye.

Less Sweet, Lower Body
Corn is the sweet grain and also the oily, heavy body grain. Some of the % of corn that would have been in a rye mashbill has been displaced with the higher percentages of wheat used in current wheaters than rye in rye bourbons. I think that the low spiciness of wheaters allows the sweetness that it does have to shine through more emphatically. Also, the sweetness that is present is a higher proportion of delightfully complex, vanillin-rich oak sweetness than the less articulated sweetness of corn (think high fructose corn sweetener or Mellow Corn).

Lower proof off still and lower proof in Barrel = less dilution of "bourbonness" in the bottle
Whatever info is available to the public points to current wheat bourbons being "babied" by not having to come off the still or go into the barrel at as high of proofs as their rye bourbon siblings. Whether the lighter mashbill "allows" for a distillate to be less "cut" with ethanol and water or "requires" it is, I guess, in the eye of the beholder. My opinion is that if wheaters were subjected to the same high proof, highly watered strategy as rye bourbons are that they might not have much character in them by the time they get out of the bottling hall.

Bourbon lovers love oak
So, why are some of the most excellent bourbons wheaters? In my opinion, it's because the lighter mashbill allows the barrel to shine through, especially with age. Rye bourbons are exciting at an early age because of the mashbill, wheaters get exciting as the barrel works its magic.

The question I don't get is why, at least in my group, there is a general consensus that wheaters age into their teens and early twenties really well, straight ryes age really well, but rye bourbons, not as predictably well. Is it that too much corn becomes cloying with time (because the only common mashbill element of wheaters and straight ryes is the lower corn content)? I dunno.

And, of course, ymmv.

Roger

ILLfarmboy
08-14-2007, 19:54
....Lower proof off still and lower proof in Barrel = less dilution of "bourbonness" in the bottle
Whatever info is available to the public points to current wheat bourbons being "babied" by not having to come off the still or go into the barrel at as high of proofs as their rye bourbon siblings. Whether the lighter mashbill "allows" for a distillate to be less "cut" with ethanol and water or "requires" it is, I guess, in the eye of the beholder. My opinion is that if wheaters were subjected to the same high proof, highly watered strategy as rye bourbons are that they might not have much character in them by the time they get out of the bottling hall.

Roger

I had noticed the data sheets that come with the three bottle cases of the BT antique collection do show a lower "proof off the still" and "Barreling proof" of WLW than the others. I found that curious and had wondered why that would be the case. Makes sense to me.

No Chaser
08-16-2007, 17:56
Thanks for all the information fellas, it was very helpful.

No Chaser
08-21-2007, 13:30
I had a quick follow-up question regarding the Wild Turkey 101s. Is the standard 101 a wheat bourbon, since there's a 101 Rye? Or do they each have both, but in different ratios? If so, how different are those ratios? Are they then also aged differently?

Gillman
08-21-2007, 13:34
They each have both, but in different proportions. The WT rye has at least 51% rye grist in the mash. The WT 101 bourbon has at least 51% corn and in fact rather more. I don't know the exact amount of rye in the bourbon but it is likely 15%-20% or so.

This shows though that rye whiskey and bourbon whiskey which (as most does) incorporates rye are really variations on a theme..

Gary

cowdery
08-21-2007, 14:52
No, Wild Turkey 101 is not a wheated bourbon and the 101 rye isn't a bourbon at all, it's a straight rye. Wild Turkey makes just those two whiskeys, a rye-recipe bourbon and a straight rye. All of the bourbon iterations (Russell's Reserve, Rare Breed, Kentucky Spirit) are the same distillate as the 101, just at different ages and proofs.

They don't make anything that contains wheat.