To new comers in the world of whiskey, wheated bourbons can offer a gentle entrance with it’s smooth flavor profile. Although if not done properly the bourbon can come out too sweet and cloying.
The Weller line of wheated bourbons is named after early American distiller William Larue Weller. Weller is credited with being one of the first Kentucky distillers to substitute the rye in favor of wheat in his straight bourbon whiskey. Later his WL Weller & Sons Distillery was purchased by Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle and merged into the now infamous Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Infamous because enthusiasts will argue that the juice coming from S-W Distillery was some of the best whiskey produced. Unfortunately in 1991 S-W ceased all operations and all brands under S-W were sold off to various distillers. Heaven Hill bought the Old Fitzgerald brand and Buffalo Trace bought the Weller and the Van Winkle line.
Now all wheated whiskey being produced for those two brands are made at Buffalo Trace with the possible exception of Pappy 23, which might still contain that precious S-W juice. The good news is that Buffalo Trace know there way around a wheated whiskey. The William Larue Weller bourbon, that is part of the Antique Collection, is the alpha of the Weller group and quite a stellar whiskey but how are its younger siblings? Well let me tell you that greatness runs in the family.
Appearance: A nice medium amber with thick slow moving legs
Nose: This one you want to take your time with. Amazing nose filled with cherries, vanilla and caramel. After a little time to open up the maple and honey come into play with hints of cinnamon and tamarind. You get some vapors from the alcohol, being 107 proof, but don’t let that detract you. I spent a good 15 minutes nosing this whiskey before I even took my first sip.
Palate: A rush of sweet vanilla with that softness that only comes from a wheated bourbon. Delicious caramel and oak flavor help add to complexity. But all the while the heat is present reminding you that you’re drinking 100+ proof whiskey. My only concern is the finish which starts off warm filled with oak and caramelized sugars but then tapers off rather quickly.
Overall: Just an outstanding whiskey. Never letting it’s high alcohol content steal the show but rather bowing gracefully to the sweet flavors. Balance is kept in perfect harmony with the sweet vanilla and dry oak playing to each other’s strengths beautifully. Again the finish is the only thing holding this whiskey back. At roughly $22 retail it would be a mistake to pass this one up.
Rating: 90 / * * * *