In a year of NDP debunking, Drew Kulsveen of KBD discredited a rumor I long believed in a Twitter feed between himself, SKU (@SkusRecentEats) and whomever writes the Bourbon Truth blog (Sorry, I refuse to refer to him as “Lloyd Christmas”):
The text on the back label of Vintage 17 does not indicate whether or not the bourbon is a wheated bourbon or a rye bourbon.
As the rumor went, a normal, plain block text on the label indicated a wheated bourbon. An italicized text on the label indicated it was a rye bourbon. If I recall, the italicized labels were released earlier than the plain block text. Since a majority of the labels (that I have seen, anyway) have a plain block text like the one pictured above, the consensus around the water cooler has been that most of the Vintage 17 release floating around are the wheated versions.
This may not matter much if you are a retail-only bourbon buyer, but if you dabble in the secondary market, you may have an interest in this knowledge if you are seeking out one or the other.
Now, that prized 17 year old wheater in your collection may not be what you think it is. The only way to really tell if it is a rye bourbon or a wheater? Open it. Taste it.
So, the Diageo Orphan Barrels are not distilled at Stitzel-Weller, no matter how leading the early marketing may be. “Later” batches of Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 are not pure Stitzel-Weller, but a blend of 18 year old Stitzel-Weller and a 20 year old rye bourbon, and your wheated Vintage 17 might not be wheated at all.
I wouldn’t be so quick to unload your V17s (unless you plan on giving them to me). If you look around the blog reviews, professional publications, and forum threads, almost no one has anything bad to say about the Vintage 17. If the label does not indicate anything, odds are a few of them were commenting on the rye bourbon and still enjoyed it quite a bit.