Posted on September 19, 2013
by Brian Haara
Bourbon: W.L. Weller 12 Year Old
Distillery: Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, Kentucky
Age: 12-Year Age Statement
Proof: 90 proof
The nose of Weller 12 is unmistakably sweet with caramel and butterscotch notes. Do I smell cereal because I know it’s a wheated bourbon or because it’s really there? It’s hard to tell. But the nose is definitely smooth and subtle.
The sweetness of the nose continues on the palate with flavors of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla, but with excellent balance and depth of wheat, oak and almond, which prevents it from tasting syrupy. This is very rich and smooth bourbon with great warmth. It didn’t open up much with a drop of water, so I prefer my Weller 12 neat or with minimal ice.
Medium-to-long finish, but maybe medium when compared to more complex bourbons. The finish was warm and smooth with honey-wheat grain flavors.
The Weller brand touts itself as the original wheated bourbon, using wheat instead of rye as its secondary grain. This bourbon is named after William Larue Weller (1825-1899) and in its heyday, it was part of the famed Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company. It’s now owned by Sazerac and produced at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Using wheat as the secondary grain gives it a different profile than bourbons that use the more traditional rye mash bill. Wheat also tends to give the bourbon a much smoother taste. Other examples of terrific wheated bourbons include Maker’s Mark and the Pappy Van Winkle line, which, as most people know by now, is made from the same mash bill as Weller (Buffalo Trace distills both brands from the same mash bill with no distinction on the front end for what brand will ultimately be used). Instead of hunting down Pappy and paying a small fortune, I’m happy with Weller 12.
Weller 12 could be the price-performer of all bourbons, and it’s definitely better than many bourbons twice its price. What it lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for in its balance and drinkability. I highly recommend Weller 12.
Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale: 4.25
The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Wouldn’t even accept a free drink of it.
2 – Would gladly drink it if someone else was buying.
3 – Glad to include this in my bar.
4 – Excellent bourbon. Worth the price and I’m sure to always have it in my bar.
5 – Wow. I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.
Haven't seen Weller 12 or 107 Antique here in South Texas for more than 18 months. Recently found a bottle of 107 selling for $29.99. A week later found a handle (1.75)at a Costco selling for $49.99. Felt like I was a lottery winner. Maybe we'll start seeing more acclation of Buffalo trace product here in S. Texas. Hope so.
Just a couple of years ago I remember hearing from TX friends that Weller 12 was 4-deep on the shelves. Times have changed. Nice find on the OWA 107. Even that is rare in Kentucky now, although it seems to be coming out more as private barrels. Thanks for the comment!