Review: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey

DSR – OR – 001: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Oregon Spirit Distillers

Location: Bend, Oregon

Mash Bill: 74% Wheat, 18% Rye, and 8% Barley

Age Statement: Aged 4 Years

Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV

Color & Viscosity: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey is russet muscat in color. The whiskey produces a dense viscous line in the tasting vessel and appears medium bodied. A heavy lip develops, then legs are very slow to emerge and just as sluggish to slide down the sides of the glass.

Purchase Price: $39.99 from Total Wine & More, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Bottle Label Information:

Neck Label

“Straight American Wheat Whiskey”

Front Label

“Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey”

“Distilled From Grain”

“Craft Distilled in Small Batches”

Left Side Label

“Aged 4 Years”

“Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey”

“Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Whiskey is hand crafted from 100% locally sourced grain. This whiskey made predominantly from wheat is balanced with hints of rye and malted barley.”

“It is carefully mashed, fermented, expertly distilled, and aged in charred New American Oak barrels, on site at Oregon Spirit Distillers.”

“Our careful attention to the details of ingredient selection, hands-on distillation and traditional barrel aging is what makes this an award winning Straight Wheat Whiskey.”

Right Side Label

“Steeped in tradition but crafted for today. Oregon Spirit Distillers is driven by a commitment to our Oregon roots.”

“Located in the heart of Oregon at the base of Mt. Bachelor, where the sun shines 300 days a year, the water runs clear, the grain is plentiful, and the craft spirit thrives. Oregon Spirit Distillers is dedicated to using local agriculture and Cascade Mountain water to deliver the essence of Oregon in every drop of spirit that runs from our still.”

“We are Oregon. We are craft. We are Oregon Craft Distillers.”

“Bend, Oregon”

Rear Label

“Good whiskey takes time. Time for authentic distillation, time to rest in barrel, time to blend and bottle with expertise. At Oregon Spirit Distillers, we take our time. Once aged to maturity each barrel is carefully taste tested, matched and blended with others to create a series that will make the perfect whiskey. Enjoy responsibly. Take your time. We do.”

“Barrel Series #150918”


“Distilled and Bottled by Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend, Oregon”

Distillery Background

Oregon Spirit Distillers

Oregon Spirit Distillers was founded in 2009 by bartender, Brad Irwin and his wife, Kathy. Mr. Irwin began experimenting with a small at-home still as a way to learn and expand his knowledge on the craft of distillation. Irwin’s initial idea was not to start a business but to further his understanding of the different flavor profiles of spirits as well as the science behind distillation and all that goes into the process. It turns out that what Brad Irwin ended up understanding was that he had a passion and desire to distill spirits on a larger scale…a scale large enough to be enjoyed by many.

One thing became abundantly clear–Brad knew that he could not reach that goal while using a stove-top still in his garage. Instead, Mr. Irwin began to lay the foundation for opening his own distillery in 2007 and 2008. Brad Irwin would obtain the necessary licensing in 2009 and would officially launch Oregon Spirit Distillers. During the day, he was the master distiller and by night, he continued to work in the bar. His wife, Kathy, would continue to play an important role in the distillery by assisting with bookkeeping and accounting in the evenings, after finishing up with her day job. Oregon Spirit Distillers would come out of the gate strong, barreling whiskey for aging while also producing an Absinthe and Genever that they could immediately release to the public. In 2016, the Oregon Spirit Distillers would complete the construction of its current facility which includes distillation space, barrel storage, and their restaurant, Barrel Thief Lounge.

Oregon Spirit Distillers prides itself on using local grains from farmers in Oregon. All the water used for distillation comes straight from the Cascade Mountains. The final ingredient is the talent that Brad and Kathy Irwin welcomed into to their distillery family in order to assist them with the growing of their brand. In 2016, the Irwins hired their current Head Distiller and Production Manager, Brandy Pieper. Mr. Pieper, who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the University of Tennessee, joined Oregon Spirit Distillers after spending some time in the food microbiology industry. Brandy Pieper is joined by Lead Distiller Michael May, who brings with him a background in Chemical Engineering. At Oregon Spirit Distillers, Mr. May keeps a close eye on the distillery’s quality control, safety, and compliance. Last, but certainly not least, is Production Distiller, Tanner Tisdel. Mr. Tisdel, a native Oregonian, began his career on the bottling line at Oregon Spirit Distillers and has worked his way up to overseeing the day to day distillation process at the distillery.

Brad Irwin has built a solid core group of employees to assist him in his ambitious goal of producing and distributing quality Oregon spirits across the United States. His hard work and effort has paid off with a group of highly awarded spirits. Oregon Spirit Dry Gin was awarded the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Double Gold Medal, Oregon Spirit Absinthe won the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Silver Medal, Oregon Spirit Cascadian Vodka won the 2019 American Distilling Institutes Gold Medal and Best in Class award, Oregon Spirit Bourbon Whiskey won the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Double Gold and Best Craft Distiller Whiskey, and Oregon Spirit Straight American Rye Whiskey and Oregon Spirit Wheat Whiskey both won the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Double Gold Medals.

Feel free to read more about Oregon Spirit Distillers on their website.

Straight American Wheat Whiskey

Oregon Spirit Distillers crafts its Straight American Wheat Whiskey using a mash bill of 74% Oregon winter wheat, 18% rye, and 8% barley. The mash is fermented and distilled using water freshly sourced from the Cascade Mountains. After distillation, the whiskey is aged for at least 4 years in charred new American oak barrels from Kelvin Cooperage. After aging, Oregon Spirit Straight American Wheat Whiskey is proofed down to 90 proof and distributed for your enjoyment.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: September 8, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few added drops of distilled water.


Christian: In the bottle, Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey hits instantly with a deep, rich brown sugar aroma that is accompanied by just a touch of spice. A second pass at the whiskey in the bottle allows a gentle fruitiness to be noticed. My goodness…there is an unbelievable buttery note to this nose in my Glencairn glass! Taking the glass away and bringing it back up to my nose unleashes a pleasant aroma of butterscotch with just the slightest hint of a floral note. A brisk swirl of the spirit in the glass adds gentle touches of honey, vanilla, and freshly made pastries into the picture. The addition of water brings a deeper rich butterscotch pudding or candy aroma to the forefront. The touch of floral remains but most of the other aromas begin to fall away.

Mike: When nosing this whiskey from the bottle, I’m delighted by mellow aromas of tobacco and leather with a hint of citrus juices and baking spices. From the glass, a nostalgic hit of butterscotch candies is immediately detected…you know, the type of candies that were wrapped in the golden yellow cellophane, readily available in everybody’s candy dish. As the whiskey sits in the glass, intense brown sugar tones begin to push through the waves of butterscotch. A swirl of the glass releases swipes of ethanol and heavy baking spices. The baking spices are cinnamon forward with an intermingling of allspice. Allowing the whiskey to settle, the penetrating buttery-ness jubilates the palate once again.


Christian: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey presents with a very light and soft mouth feel that leaves a delicate coating on my lips and tongue. Just as with the nose, a rush of butter hits my palate first. This pour is not overly sweet, which is not an entirely bad thing. The taste profile reminds me of freshly made uncooked pancake batter…something I take great joy in stealing tastes of in my kitchen, despite the warnings on the box. Finally, I notice a little bit of leather and oak barrel trying to sneak into the picture. Adding water brings a bitterness to this pour that is accompanied with an almost Play-doh flavor to it. I can very emphatically say that I definitely prefer this pour neat.

Mike: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey has a soft and creamy mouthfeel. It is velvety on the front of the palate, then delicate flavors of a buttered pancake batter begin to materialize mid-palate. Suggestions of leather and charred oak arrive late and bring a respectably spicy bite from the rye.   


Christian: This whiskey has a nice medium to medium-long finish that leads with a rye grain zip that quickly warms deep down in your chest. The finish is a bit dry in nature. As the flavors begin to transition near the end, I notice a slight component of grass or hay that is combined with a nice rush of red pepper flake. After the spirit is long gone from my mouth, I notice a flavor of medium to well done toast, apples, and just a splash of maple syrup. The addition of water takes the red pepper flake and mutes it a bit, falling in line with something akin to black pepper. Apple becomes the predominate flavor in the finish, with just a touch of sweet maple syrup.

Mike: This whiskey offers a medium to long finish. There is a slight bitterness present and notes of black pepper linger in the back of the throat. Revealing itself very late, is a very old leather quality to this pour that matures in the back of the mouth long after the whiskey is imbibed. 

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey is not an offering that is currently offered in the North Carolina ABC System. Mike took a bit of a flyer on this product while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and it paid off BIG! This is a tasty, well-balanced, under the radar craft whiskey. Each part of this pour, starting with the nose then transitioning to the mouth and ending with the finish, bring characteristics that are complementary to each other. There are not an overly dominant or distracting flavors jumping out to steal the show or disrupt the drinker’s enjoyment. In addition, it seems that Oregon Spirit Distillers nailed the proof point on this offering. Would I like to try it at 100 or barrel proof? Absolutely. But did the 90 proof offering disappoint me in any way? Not at all! I see this as a whiskey that can be enjoyed by both the casual whiskey drinker and connoisseur alike. It is hard to find much to be critical about with this offering, so I’ll say that my biggest complaint is that I cannot get more of it, or any of the other Oregon Spirit Distillers varieties, here in North Carolina.

Rating: 3.85 Rickhouses

Mike:  I was eager to try this Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey and it did not disappoint. Overall, it is very butterscotch forward and rather one dimensional in general flavor, but I find the buttery richness qualities to be fantastic. Something interesting I observed is that there are no brown sugar oatmeal fragrances in this whiskey, which is a characteristic I usually identify in wheated bourbons or wheat whiskies. Oregon Spirit Distillers Straight American Wheat Whiskey boasts a 4 year age statement and is bottled at 90 proof, but it punches above its proof, in a very good way! This was a $38 purchase from Total Wine in Myrtle Beach, SC, which I find moderately reasonable. I would purchase this bottle again and definitely recommend to friends. For the record, I am a devotee of wheated bourbons and whiskies, so it makes sense that I enjoyed this offering and will buy a back up the next time I’m in SC.

Rating: 3.38 Rickhouses


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