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Bourbon Whiskey

Seven Brothers Distilling Co. launches two spirits – wheated bourbon and malt whiskey

HARPERSFIELD, Ohio — Kevin Suttman, owner of Seven Brothers Distilling Company, has had a busy year taking his business to new levels. After 10 years in the business, he moved in mid-July from a starter facility in Leroy Township to larger, purpose-built facility in Harpersfield Township. Settled into the new production and tasting spaces, he is introducing two new spirits to the brand’s collection.

The first was a wheated bourbon, introduced in November. The second is a malt whiskey to be introduced to the public at 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, at the distillery. Both the malt whiskey and the wheated bourbon have Suttman’s influence; he adds wheat – a non-traditional ingredient – to the mash bill or recipe for both. After two years of barrel-aging, they are ready for public discernment.

Why the non-traditional approach? “I’m trying to do things a little differently than everyone else,” he says. “Why make something identical to 40 other products on the shelf?”

The malt whiskey to be released Friday is made in the Scottish tradition with malted barley. If the spirit had been made in Scotland, it could be called “Scotch.” In the United States, however, the product must be labeled “malt whiskey.” It’s both tradition and law.

Suttman thought about making a single malt with 100 percent malted barley. But his affection for wheat and its nuances took over. “I experimented with a percentage of wheat in the mash. After various formulations, I settled on the wheated malt whiskey. I found it really complemented the malt and made a better distillate,” he says. “It had a smooth, sweetness that I couldn’t resist.”

He notes that smokey, peaty characteristics of classic Scotch are not required for a scotch or malted whiskey and that American-style malt is not typically put through a smoking process. The result here is a very sippable whiskey with a buttery mouthfeel, a nutty character and a smooth and slightly sweet finish.

Malt whiskey label, seven brothers distilling

Malt whiskey bottles will be labeled and ready for sale at Seven Brothers after their release at 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9. (Courtesy of Kevin Suttman)

The new whiskey follows a wheated bourbon that consumers have accessed for just one month. Contrary to some beliefs, bourbon doesn’t have to come from Kentucky. However, it can only be made in the United States, and it must start with a mash of 51 percent or more corn. A typical bourbon, he says is about 70 percent corn. The remainder is divided between wheat and rye.

Not surprisingly, Kevin uses 35 percent wheat in his formulation.

“My goal was to create a wheated bourbon that was smoother and more sippable,” he says. “I tried a few recipes before I zeroed in on the mash bill and distillation technique.”

“When you start down a road with whiskey or bourbon you never know what it’s going to be like at the end,” he notes. “You put it in a barrel and hope you do the right thing. Decisions are based on knowledge and research. Still, I was nervous for two years waiting for it to come of age.”

The results were satisfying. “I’m almost relieved that it’s so good,” he concludes. “For my first true bourbon, it exceeded all my expectations.”

He describes the flavors as deep, rich caramel with just a slight hint of peppermint spice and a smooth, sweet finish.

Both the malt whiskey and wheated bourbon will be available for individual tasting or on a new flight of four samples for those who like to compare whiskeys. The four samples include wheated bourbon, malt whiskey, hickory-smoked whiskey and wheat whiskey. Seven Brothers will also offer hand-crafted cocktails with the new malt whiskey in their new distillery tasting room in Harpersfield Township.

Because of limited production, bottles will be available only at the distillery.

RELATED: Ohio’s Seven Brothers Distilling opens new tasting room, larger distillery in Ashtabula County

Reporter Paris Wolfe is a life and culture reporter for She has a special interest in food and dining. You can reach her with restaurant and food news and story ideas at Here’s a directory of her latest posts. Follow her on Instagram @pariswolfe.

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