Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey Review

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By Jake Emen

Rating: B+

Dry Fly Washington Wheat Whiskey

Dry Fly Washington Wheat Whiskey,
as in Washington State,
not George Washington
(Credit: Jake Emen)

All variations of whiskey seem to be thriving these days. Think about the proliferation of single malts across the globe, the revival of rye whiskey, especially as a go-to spirit at craft cocktail bars, and the growth of American micro-distillers.

Spokane, Washington’s Dry Fly Distilling – the first legal distillery in Washington since Prohibition, a phrase I’m familiar with as I seem to be doing a state-to-state journey of such distilleries – is itself a craft operation, but they’re not riding the rye wave, they’re working with wheat. Wheat whiskey has a long tradition in America, with none other than George Washington running a wheat whiskey business, but in modern times only Bernheim Original has managed a big splash in this department. That is, Bernheim and now Dry Fly. While Dry Fly has expanded into bourbon and a variety of specialty 375-ml offerings, including vodka and gin, Washington Wheat Whiskey is at the forefront of their lineup.

The Whiskey
Dry Fly Washington Wheat Whiskey is, well, a 100% wheat whiskey from Washington, bottled at 40% abv. In the glass, it displays a bright copper color. On the nose, I noticed orange peel, molasses, and a hot, robust kick which signaled the long finish which did indeed come.

When tasting Washington Wheat Whiskey, a restrained citrus comes back, along with a sharp, deep, grainy-wheat undertone. The finish is relatively long and dry, a bit hot, but pleasant. With water or ice, a caramel sweetness emerges and the finish mellows, offering a maple syrup and molasses combination made lighter by remaining orange-citrus hints.

The great thing about a bottle of Dry Fly Washington Wheat Whiskey is that the bottle itself can entertain. Simply pour yourself a dram, take a seat and start enjoying the hilarious notes and references on the bottle.

Dry Fly's Happiness Gauge

The Dry Fly Happiness Gauge
(Credit: Jake Emen)

There’s a meter called the “Gauge of Happiness” which starts with Bliss towards the top of the bottle, declining through Starting to Get Worried, Time to Get Your Stingy On, and various increasingly depressing thoughts until reaching Panic!!! Other quotables include many-a-reference to fishing- philosophy, “only dead fish swim with the stream”, odes to whiskey, “whiskey is man’s attempt at heaven”, and combinations of both, “catch & release; good for fish, not for whiskey.”

It’ll keep you busy as you enjoy sipping on some Washington Wheat… at least until it’s time to “Panic!!!”

The bottle would be a cruel ploy or simple marketing trick if a below-average whiskey was lurking within, but that’s certainly not the case here. Washington Wheat Whiskey is, ahem, a real catch.

The Price
Dry Fly’s spirits began very centralized to their roots in the Pacific Northwest, but now enjoy a growing distribution from coast to coast, and is available at assorted online retailers between about $43 and $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

Awards
Washington Wheat Whiskey has received a gold from the American Distilling Institute in 2010, a triple-gold at the 2011 Micro Liquor Spirit Awards, a silver at the 2011 New York World Wine & Spirit Awards and a 94 rating from Tasting Panel Magazine in 2011.

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8 comments

  1. As the Creative Director and writer for the bottle design, I’m thrilled to see your good taste extends to what’s outside the bottle as much as what’s inside!! Cheers.

  2. Is this particular expression really 100% wheat? I’ve been trying to find some kind of official verification on that. The NH liquor stores are trying to get rid of their stock and selling it for 35 bucks. I got one and will probably get more. It sure is light tasting but it makes a great base to add stronger flavored whiskies.

    • I bought two of those ‘sale’ bottles on my way back from Maine. Also bought last bottles in my local area. Am now working on getting a fresh supply from a distributor.

      If you want ‘kick,’ use a whiskey with more rye in the mashbill. I’m working under the theory that smoother is nicer. a VSOP brandy as opposed to a VS. And the Washington Wheat is certainly a smooth whiskey.

  3. Since the labeling must be approved by the Federal government, I have no doubt it really is 100% wheat. If it weren’t, it would be more than just misleading advertising; it would be fraud!

    100% any grain other than malted barely is hard to ferment, but not impossible.

    Great luck on that sale you have there! I’m sure some folks envy your good fortune.

  4. The 100% printed on the bottle refers to “100% Hand Crafted in the Pacific Northwest with real hands.” The same statement is on their Bourbon.

  5. Their press stuff billed it as not just 100% wheat, but as the first 100% wheat whiskey in the U.S. for “close to 100 years.”

  6. Cool – Thanks for the info.The web site doesn’t give much detail and it’s not marked as such on the bottle. I have a bottle of Bernheim Wheat coming so I can compare them, but I know that Bernheim is not 100% wheat so it won’t be a fair comparison.

  7. My wife gave a 750mL bottle today for Christmas. I am a rye and smooth bourbon boy, but this wheat whiskey might make me a Dry Fly Guy. 🙂

    It is smooth and nicely mellow. The aroma reveals a very well made whiskey. I like it, a lot.

    I’m heading out tomorrow to get a 375mL bottle of their Triticale whiskey. It should be quite interesting.

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