Today, I am reviewing W.L. Weller 12 year-old, the self-proclaimed, “Original Wheated Bourbon.” It is made at the W.L. Weller and Sons Distillery, and bottled by Buffalo Trace. I have already reviewed Maker’s Mark on the site, which is also a wheated bourbon. This means that these whiskies are made from a mash bill that is comprised of only corn (at least 51%) and wheat. As you may recall, I am not a big fan of Maker’s Mark. I think it is overpriced, especially for what you get. However, Maker’s Mark is only aged 6 years, a rather short time, especially for wheated bourbons. One thing you commonly hear in the bourbon world is that wheated bourbons take oak well, meaning they dramatically improve with age in the oak.
W.L. Weller is a bourbon label bottled at many different temperatures, ages, and proof points. The most famous in the bourbon world is William Larue Weller, part of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection (I have tried the 2010 bottling, and it is quite delicious). However, William Larue Weller is a bit beyond my price range. At about $28-$30 per bottle, W.L. Weller 12 year-old is a very nice price range, especially for a quality whiskey.
The first thing you might notice about W.L. Weller 12 year is the color. It is a dark, rich amber, which makes sense considering the time it spends in the American oak. On the nose, it is very sweet (a trademark of wheated bourbons). There are rich scents of maple sugar, brown sugar, caramel, and butterscotch. There is also some nuttiness and some cinnamon spice that creeps through. On the palate, the sweetness continues. The first thing that jumps out is the caramel, which dominates the front of the palate. However, soft notes of butterscotch and vanilla begin to arise over time. As the whiskey moves to its conclusion, the oak begins to take hold, giving the whiskey notes of sweet oak and charred almonds. The finish is long and very warming. It starts out very sweet, as if somebody soaked a brown sugar cube in caramel and dropped in the back of my mouth. However, as time passes, the oak begins to show more, leaving a sweet, charred feeling that lasts a while.
On the whole, this is a very impressive whiskey. A bottle was given to me as a birthday gift, but I would definitely buy it again. It seems like it would be a wonderful whiskey for the fall, so I plan to make it last until the leaves are turning to their gold and auburn hues. It definitely shows that not all wheated bourbons have to achieve the dross flavor profile that Maker’s Mark does. My grade: B-. Price: $25-30/750ml. If you like wheaters, this one should be in your cabinet; its a great day-to-day pour.