By Jake Emen
Masterson’s Wheat Whiskey, made by 35 Maple Street of Sonoma, California, is named for William Barclay “Bat” Masterson, a legendary figure who over the course of his life managed to check off gunman, lawman, gambler, sports writer, boxing promoter and quite a few more as his occupation du jour. 35 Maple Street bottles a lineup of whiskeys sourced from Canadian distillers, all of which bear the Masterson name, including a rye whiskey, a barley whiskey, and the wheat, which we have here.
Masterson’s Wheat Whiskey is a 12-year-old straight wheat whiskey, bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV). Distilled with a traditional copper pot still, Masterson’s uses Canadian wheat as its grain, and ages the spirit in white oak casks.
The bottle, similar in shape to the classic Bulleit Bourbon bottle although with a fuller, curvier figure, features an old-timey newspaper clipping, with a photo of Masterson, his signature, and an appropriately tabloid-esque headline: “Stunning Paradox! Refined Whiskey Composed of Ingredients from the Wilds of North America!” You can just feel your beard growing already, can’t you?
One look at that label and you may believe you have been transported back to the Wild West of about 150 years ago; wanted signs posted outside a saloon as you tie up your horse, dust off your breeches and knock open the swinging wooden doors on your way to a refreshing drink… or three. Or a fight… or three.
In the glass, it has a light golden, or, well, a wheat color. Its nose is sweet and mellow, with vanilla and caramel and oak at its backbone.
Take a sip, and appreciate a smooth and easy drinking whiskey, with a hearty dose of grain, and a pleasant velvety texture which manages to avoid becoming too heavy in the mouth. On the finish, Masterson’s Wheat Whiskey has a lingering sweetness and a lasting warmness, which surely must have steeled yourself to go out there and catch yourself some outlaws. With ice, some of the sweetness is removed and a grainier flavor profile emerges, with a light, crisp finish.
Wheat whiskey is starting to really come on, but even so, a straight wheat whiskey aged for 12 years is a rare find in the current marketplace, indeed. The aging has paid dividends, imparting a smooth and mellow profile. Its sweetness will certainly appeal to bourbon drinkers, as well as anyone looking for an accessible whiskey, rich with flavor and easy going down.
Masterson’s Wheat Whiskey has a fairly limited production and distribution, and the price is on the steep side. I’ve found it online at a few retailers for anywhere from $60 to $75, usually closer to the $60 mark.