Heaven Hill’s second Barrel Proof release of its Bernheim wheat whiskey almost eluded us late last year, but we finally uncovered our sample just in time for the presumed arrival of the third release, which is expected this month. It’s bottled at a slightly higher proof than A223, but otherwise there’s no real difference in production, the blend a mix of whiskeys aged 7 to 9 years from a mash of 51% wheat, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley.
Let’s dig in.
Bernheim always tends toward the sweet side, and B923 is no exception to the rule, evident on the nose as a syrupy, maple-infused treat that sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) will gravitate to right away. Ample baking spice gives the whiskey a Christmassy quality, popping with candied cherries but tempered with just a bit of char.
No surprises on the palate from my point of view: The sweetness endures, though the alcohol can make for a warming experience, with the full dessert cart in effect: Vanilla, marshmallow cream, flambeed banana, and plenty of maple syrup. Gingery with a spiced fruitcake quality emerging late in the game, the whiskey even makes room for a dusting of chocolate toward the finish. It’s not particularly hot, and is fully approachable without water, but a few drops of H2O can actually help to temper some of the sugar along with the booziness.
I don’t know that this whiskey diverges much from A223, nor that Bernheim’s Barrel Proof releases are going to show as much variance as, say, the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof lineup going forward. That’s a big plus if you’re looking for consistency — but those that aim to compare and contrast multiple vintages may find themselves twiddling their thumbs a bit.
A- / $65 / bernheimwheatwhiskey.com