W.L. Weller – 12 Year Old Bourbon | 45 % (90 Proof), $29.99/bottle (BevMo) or Here
Color/Appearance: Shimmering golden amber +2. Twelve years in oak have made this look magnificent. Plastic screw top and bottle are not exactly charmers. Knowledge of what is inside override visual cues to ignore this bottom shelf lurker. Glad that they haven’t upgraded the packaging or they could charge lots more. Not sure why Buffalo Trace lets this fine whiskey out the door for so little. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Nose: Sweet, floral, rosewater, vanilla, brown sugar cookies. Perfume and musk. Banana cream pie, chocolate and dates. Dry wood, cinnamon and pepper. Lots of magnificent scents rise and fall in this nose. The sweetness is almost cloying but your attention is quickly drawn to another fine aroma lurking within.
Palate: With such an intense and sweet nose you would expect the taste to match but I find that it has a nice punchy dry spice to it. Some of this is due to the wood but some is due to the wheat itself. While wheat is know for its sweetness it still mimics rye in that it is a more complex grain than corn. These tingly spicy notes ramp up the mouthfeel, enhancing drinkability. Technically most of what we taste is directly related to our sense of smell, though as I taste this I experience a wonderful sensation as the waves of sweetness are blasted away with a spicy dry woodiness. This achieves balance but with pyrotechnics rather than smooth balance. I personally like dry woody flavors and here with so much sweet to balance it out I find it very appropriate. Vibrant taste is a winner but, directly out of the barrel this stuff must really wow. Until I can score some William Larue Weller or Van Winkle I can only dream.
Finish: Chewing on an Amaretto soaked cinnamon stick. Long lingering brown sugar fading into dry wood.
Overall: Sweetness on its own is one thing, but sweetness balanced with complexly aged dry wood is a thing of beauty. If you love this whiskey it really wets your appetite to find some Pappy. Though in this day and age it is nearly unattainable. I spent a good amount of time and effort last fall trying my best, but still fell short. Oh sure, I could have had some for $600 plus but there is no way it is that good. I realized this early in my whiskey journey that money could buy so so so many bottles of amazing whiskey that I should just be happy to find and explore what I can. For example this W.L. Weller 12 Year Old is a very fine wheated bourbon at a great price. Though even it can be a little iffy to locate, so if you find a bottle sit back and enjoy. I have a bottle of Old Weller Antique 107 to review and have been doing some experiments combining the two into “Poor Man’s Pappy”. So far the results have been rather encouraging though without actual Pappy to compare to, I am not sure how accurate my tests will be. But it does seem to produce a nice drinking whiskey that am enjoying. Isn’t that what its all about. This is a Bourbon that you have to try and one that I would suggest owning as well, especially at this price point. Nice with hints of what is lurking in the top notch barrels hiding in the Buffalo Trace warehouses.