In today’s world of premium American and Scotch Whiskeys/ies, the trend is to remove age statements from existing labels, or release new labels with no age statement (or “NAS,” in whiskey parlance). This reality is bemoaned in whiskey industry trade media, consumer magazines, and forums and blogs here and abroad.
So it is indeed newsworthy when a renowned brand that previously had no age statement decides to add one.
But that is in fact the case with Bernheim Original Straight Wheat Whiskey, a specialty American Whiskey that has been produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries since 2005. When it was launched, Bernheim was the first new style of American Whiskey to be introduced since Prohibition, and though other straight wheat whiskeys have since been released in limited quantities by craft or micro-distilleries, Bernheim remains the only nationally distributed brand and the most critically acclaimed.
From its introduction in 2005 until now, Bernheim carried no age statement on the label, but while it is still bottled at 90 proof, and still available at the same national average retail price of $29.99 for the 750ml size, the whiskey now carries a prominent “Aged 7 Years” statement on the redesigned face label. The descriptive term “Small Batch”—which reinforces the fact that the bottling has always been made from a dump of 100 or fewer carefully chosen barrels aged at the top of one of Heaven Hill’s best rickhouses—has been moved next to the age statement on the label.
Bernheim Straight Wheat Whiskey was named “Pioneer Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate Magazine when it was released in 2005, and since that time has won 3 “World Whisky Awards” from Whisky Magazine, Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge, and most recently scored 92 out of 100 points and was named “Finalist—Highly Recommended” at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. The brand is a particular favorite of mixologists, who find its soft, round taste profile eminently well-suited to new or classic whiskey cocktails.
“With the success and critical acclaim we have been seeing with Bernheim since its introduction nearly a decade ago, we think the change to a new label with a prominent age statement will continue to lift the brand profile,” asserted Susan Wahl, Senior Brand Manager for American Whiskeys at Heaven Hill. “As the American Whiskey category continues to grow and today’s well educated consumers seek out distinctive styles of American Whiskeys—such as rye, wheat and corn—we feel Bernheim is well-positioned to benefit, particularly with the added gravitas of the ‘aged 7 years’ designation.”