This whiskey has improved greatly over the past two years. (I thought that the 2007 release was almost too easy-going, as some wheated bourbons can be.) A little more oak spice has added balance, complexity, and depth. Very clean on the palate. Layered sweetness (toffee, caramel, maples syrup, elegant rum) provide a foundation for warming cinnamon, bramble, blueberry tart, sultana, light candy corn, herbal tea, and subtle marzipan. A soft, dry, polished oak finish ropes in all the sweetness, keeping me wanting more. Excellent!
William Larue Weller 12 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 62.85%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
Tilled earth, tobacco, and leather meet clover honey, maple syrup, and pecan pie sweetness. It pours broad and mouth-coating across the palate, with a lovely softness and pervasive vanilla and apple sweetness, gently tugged at by oaky tannins and more tobacco leaf. A touch floral and gently spiced, with cinnamon leading the way. Overall, this exudes beautiful balance right through the long finish that resonates both prettily and powerfully with dried citrus. Collectible
Very similar to last year’s release. (A good thing, since it was wonderful!) Very smooth, with layered sweetness (toffee, fig cake, nougat, maple syrup), dark fruit (black raspberry, blueberry), cinnamon, and polished oak on the finish. A whisky of elegance and sophistication. (Editor's Choice)
A complex nose of leather, cedar chest, black tea, cooked cherries, rich spice, and polished oak; water brings out bright citrus, green apple candy, and blackberry cobbler filling. Dark chocolate, cooked cherry, fresh ginger, licorice, black pepper, and nuts on the palate; spearmint, licorice, and tobacco appear once water is added. Extremely lengthy finish with licorice tea, caramel, dark chocolate, polished oak, and spearmint. You might want to tough it out at barrel proof, but water benefits this whiskey, and saves your taste buds.
The key to bourbons that use wheat instead of rye (like this Weller), is to get the right amount of wood influence to balance the sweet notes and add depth. This whiskey does a great job of it. Notes of dark fruit (blackberry, plum, blueberry), layered sweetness (maple syrup, toffee, caramel), and dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla). Soft, pleasant finish.
William Larue Weller (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017), 64.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
This is a work of art. It begins by revealing vanilla, from custard to cake icing. Then it speaks caramel with a dark chew, crème brûlée, and Werther’s Original hard candy. From here, complexity takes over, with candied popcorn, butterscotch, chocolate ganache, French toast, maple, honey, pumpkin pie, fried pie dough, blueberries, and cinnamon, with hints of molasses and pecan. The long finish seems to offer a concentration of all the flavors. Delicious. Editor's Choice.
The traditionally gentle demeanor of this wheated bourbon is jazzed up with some lovely complex spice (mostly coming from the oak). Sweet notes of maple syrup, silky caramel, blackberry jam, and blueberry are peppered with notes of allspice spiked with cinnamon and vanilla. Soft leather on the finish. Great balance. A lovely whiskey! Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.
No age statement, but distilled in 1998. The only wheated recipe bourbon in the 2011 Antique Collection, and a very good one at that. Higher in strength than last year’s offering (which was 63.3%), but very similar (and equally as impressive). The most elegant and smoothest of this collection, with layered sweetness (honey, caramel, marzipan, maple syrup), fig, blackberry preserve, hint of green tea, and just the right amount of spice for balance (nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa).
Distilled in 2003. Weller is the only wheated bourbon in the Collection, with wheat replacing the rye found in most other bourbons. It’s a very impressive representation, too. Notes of nutty toffee, black raspberry, blueberry, green tea, cinnamon, and vanilla. Soft, lingering oak on the finish. Like last year’s release, this is a soothing whiskey with a gentle demeanor. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016. Editor's Choice.
Distilled in 2003. Weller is the wheated bourbon in the Collection, where wheat replaces the rye found in most other bourbons. The sweetness is balanced nicely by a solid peppering of oak spice. Notes of toffee, maple syrup, fig, black raspberry preserve, cinnamon, and vanilla. Lingering oak and polished leather on the finish.
A significant improvement over the previous release in 2007, which I felt was the weakest of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection that year. Wheated bourbons, like William Larue Weller, lack the bold zing of rye, and therefore are vulnerable to being too tame, too easygoing, like the 2007 release. What wheated whiskeys gain in drinkability, they can lose in vibrancy and zest. The distiller might want to augment this, and a good way to do this is by increasing the oak impact (spice, resin, balancing dryness), as was done (quite masterfully, by the way) with this new expression. Sweet notes of vanilla custard, maple syrup, Demerara rum, shortbread cookie, and marzipan are balanced by raspberry jam, cinnamon, nutmeg, teaberry, and gentle oak resin that lingers on the finish. Great balance, too!
Thick, dark, sweet notes of rummy molasses, chewy toffee, fig cake, and some teasing notes of chocolate fudge. Between these layers of sweetness emerge notes of dark berried fruit and glazed citrus. A very seductive, compelling whiskey. Liquid dessert.
Distilled in 2002. For many years now, this wheated whiskey has maintained just the right amount of oak influence for balance and added complexity. This year’s release is sporting some extra dried oak spice (especially on the finish), but it’s still a delicious whiskey. Notes of toffee, maple syrup, blackberry jam, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a dry, allspice and polished leather finish.
Keeping in the Weller tradition, this one is a wheated bourbon. Some wheated bourbons, although easy to drink, can taste a bit too sweet without the spicy rye notes in there. The better ones are often aged a little longer and/or bottled at higher strengths, where the wood and alcohol accompany the sweetness. You’ll find soothingly rich toffee, caramel fudge, dates, and nougat brightened up by berried fruit, and a hint of dusty corn. Gently sweet finish.
There’s no age statement, but this wheated bourbon is about 10 years old. This is the softest and gentlest of the Antique Collection. Notes of molasses, black raspberry jam, ripe blueberry, teaberry, soft fig, and cinnamon. Gently spicy, clean finish. Could this whiskey be too easy to drink?