W.L. Weller 12 Year
W.L. Weller 12 is a 90 proof bourbon produced by Buffalo Trace from their wheated mash bill. William Larue Weller is credited with being the first distiller to produce bourbon using wheat instead of rye as the flavor grain (in the late 1840's). The Weller line is named in his honor and includes Old Weller Antique 107, W.L. Weller Special Reserve, and the uncut, unfiltered W.L. Weller of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (also approx. 12 years old).
All of the Weller bourbons are distilled from the same recipe used to produce Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley has said on the record that his "sweet spot" for wheated bourbons is 12-15 years old, and Weller 12 falls right into the sweetest of sweet spots.
It took us a year of searching to stumble upon Weller 12 in the wild. I spotted an ABC store in the mountains of North Carolina last month as we were leaving a hike on Grandfather Mountain. As I pulled into the parking lot, my mother-in-law assured me, "there's nothing good in there!" That was the omen. I walked out, head held high, with three bottles of Weller 12 (the store had 8 left). At $29/bottle, there is simply no better deal in bourbon whiskey.
As a bonus of finding Weller 12, we were finally able to dabble with the old "straightbourbon.com blend" now known as Poor Man's Pappy. But I'll mostly be drinking Weller 12 by itself, neat. Here's why:
W.L. Weller 12 Year
Buffalo Trace Distillery
$29 at ABC in Blowing Rock, NC
Color: Golden amber, perhaps slightly darker than your average bear.
Nose: A near-perfect example of the bourbon triumvirate- caramel, vanilla, oak. It's like sticking your nose into an old-tyme candy shop and smelling freshly formed caramel candies and vanilla frosting being slathered onto warm cake. As if to remind you that this is whiskey after all, the aroma of charred oak staves balances the sweetness.
Tasting Notes: Creamy. Smooth. Full bodied. Delicious. More caramel, more vanilla, more oak. Cinnamon, dark cherry chocolate, and honey sweetness.
Overall: A. Weller 12 is one of the best examples of bourbon whiskey. I can see why hardcore bourbon drinkers began blending this with the 107 proof Weller Antique- it's so smooth, it's almost confusing. The blend raises the proof and kicks up the cinnamon notes. But left alone, it's just fine.