Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Siz4
Old Weller Antique Bourbon Review
- Kind of Spirit:Bourbon
- Distillery:Buffalo Trace Distillery
- Age:7 Years
- Alcohol Percentage:53.5%
- Color:Dark Red Amber
- Aroma:Alcohol, Mint, Vanilla
- Average Price:$30
With a name like Old Weller Antique one would initially think this is a well aged bourbon. However, this particular blend is usually aged around 7 years. So not overly aged, but longer than the average age I suppose. The Weller line has a long illustrious background. Originally owned by the Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company, which also owned Pappy Van Winkle, has an incredibly long history as well. That history should be it’s own post sometime so we won’t cover it right now. However if you do want to read the entire thing, go check out Chuck Cowdery’s book Bourbon, Straight. It’s fantastic and covers all of this in more detail than I could do it justice.
So what sets this Old Weller Antique apart from other bourbons? First off, it’s “flavor grain ” is wheat instead of rye like most bourbons. There are a few other “wheated” bourbons out there, the most notorious is probably Maker’s Mark and Pappy Van Winkle. By substituting the wheat for the rye it alters the flavors that you expect to get. Rye is typically more spicy, and wheat has some sweet charaterstics to it. The wheat also tends to create what some refer to as a softness with the bourbon, and they also say it adds more viscosity to the mouthfeel. I’m not sure if I agree with that, but we’ll cover that in the tasting. So let’s dive into it and see what all it has in store for us.
The first thing I notice about this Old Weller Antique is the deep reddish amber color. I feel like this coloring is very similar to Maker’s 46. Typically the coloring in the bourbon comes from the aging in the barrels. I have noticed though that these “wheater” bourbons tend to have this similar color. So I’m curious if the wheat that is used makes the bourbon react differently in the barrel in regards to color?
The bottle is not overly unique. I do like some aspects of it. I love the front label on this bottle. I love the contrast of the white script font with the reddish bourbon as the backdrop. I think it really makes the name stand out from the rest. Below that, there is what appears to be a burnt paper label that contains more of the details of the bourbon. Such as the 107 Blend, sometimes this Old Weller Antique is often referred to as Old Weller 107. Just so there’s no confusion, these can be used interchangeably.
One thing that I did notice at the very bottom of the label it says “The Original Wheated Bourbon”. I think that’s very interesting, I’m not sure if it’s historically accurate, but I do like the statement. It tells you that it’s a wheated bourbon. I’m not sure how many other bourbons state that on the front of the bottle. It is good to know, especially if you’re looking for something different. Alright, well see what this wheated bourbon has to offer in terms of taste!
The first thing I picked up on this Old Weller Antique is the alcohol vapors coming off. It is a 107 proof so it has a bit of a kick to it. Once the intial wave dissipates I pick up this light, somewhat airyness to the bourbon. I’m also picking up a lot of minty notes. I might be confusing it with anise, but it definitly has those lighter qualities to it. Then towards the backend of the aroma I picked up some of that vanilla and char that is akin to bourbon. There doesn’t seem to be much depth to the nose that I can really pick up. Also, not much spice that I’ve picked up either. I think you can attribute most of that to the use of wheat rather than the rye.
Knowing that this bourbon is coming at me with 107 proof, I decided I should cut it with some water. I really want to open up those flavors that are hiding in this Old Weller Antique and I don’t want it to be overpowered by the proof. Even after cutting it, I still get a lot of heat coming off of it. There is that tongue prickling spice that I think can probably be attributed to the proof, not the wheat. However there is also the classic bourbon flavors that I picked up as well. Lots of vanilla, caramel, and that char flavor. Some of the interesting flavors that I personally picked up was this overall minty note. I picked up that flavor in the nose and it followed through to the palate as well.
The finish on this Old Weller Antique was ok. It was fairly light and crisp. There was quite a bit of burn to it like most bourbons, but I didn’t have much more to it in terms of depth. I feel like it was fairly flat. I didn’t really pick up on that viscosity on the mouthfeel either. It didn’t coat my mouth like others have in the past. I feel like there was still too much spice to this bourbon, again I attribute that to the 107 proof. I feel like they are just trying to punch it up a notch with the proof. Maybe if the proof was cut down it would let this shine a little bit. Not really blown away the finish. I’m not left salivating wanting more. I’m just left with a kind of ehh at the finish.
Old Weller Antique: 7/10
I’m giving this a 7 because to me it didn’t really hit the spot as a bourbon. I didn’t get much complexity out of it, it was fairly flat and just came out fighting. The 107 proof even cut down still didn’t offer much depth either. I love the exterior of this bourbon, but that only gets you so far. In the past I’ve loved some of the different wheated bourbons that I’ve tried. This one just fell flat on my palate. However, at around $25-30 a bottle, it’s worth giving a try if you want something a bit different. I doubt I’ll be going back to Well-er on this one though (see what I did there?).