Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Siz12
WL Weller 12 Year
- Kind of Spirit:Bourbon
- Distillery:Buffalo Trace
- Alcohol Percentage:45%
- Color:Deep Rich Amber
- Aroma:Vanilla, Caramel, Lanolin
- Average Price:$35
Well, it’s that time of year when everyone is out trying to find Pappy Van Winkle bourbon at every local liquor store. I too have fallen into this crowd. I typically spend my Tuesday nights out driving around hitting up all the different stores. I’m not sure about everywhere else, but here in Nashville, Tuesday is delivery day at the liquor stores. Unfortunately everyone knows this and it makes it even harder to find the Pappy Van Winkle or Buffalo Trace Antique collection. So, how does this apply to the WL Weller 12 Year? Well in more ways than one.
First off, I have been looking for this WL Weller 12 Year for quite a while and no one has seemed to have it in stock. So on my current escapades around town I try to talk to shop managers and see if they’ve sold all their allocation of Pappy or the BTAC. That’s how I came across this bottle. One of the sales staff knew quite a bit about bourbon and he said they had a whole case of this stuff in the office. He said he didn’t know if he was allowed to sell it, but he figured it was ok since it wasn’t Pappy. So needless to say when he offered up a bottle, I snagged it. I mean it’s not Pappy, but its still been equally difficult to find this year.
Secondly, another connection to Pappy. It’s all about the name. W.L. Weller was originally produced at the Stitzel-Weller distillery, the same place where Pappy was originally produced. This factory has since shut down and now Buffalo Trace is the active producer of this bourbon. Trust me, there is a lot more to the story that I have left out. If you’re interested in the entire story check out Chuck Cowdery’s book Bourbon, Straight. It has more info than you could ever remember in there.
Well I think that’s probably enough the background to this bourbon lets get into the actual review!
After looking at a few of these bottles from other Weller offerings, I have to say I’m not too impressed with their packaging. I know it’s not always about the packaging. It’s whats inside that counts. It would appear that packaging doesn’t really matter anyway though. Apparently, the word is out on these Weller bourbons because they already fly off the shelf.
This bottle is a nice short rounded bottle. The bulk of the bottle is a rounded bulb looking shape. Very similar to the Old Weller Antique 107 bottle. The front label is similar as well. The same looking font is used for the WL Weller which helps keeps the consistency between bottles and within the brand so I understand that. What’s different about the label is the nice solid black label that goes across the bottom. This is where the age statement of 12 years exists!
This WL Weller 12 Year has a beautiful reddish amber coloring to it. It’s not quite as red as the Old Weller Antique. It has definitely picked up darker coloring being in the barrel for 12 years. Inside the glass it has a beautiful glow to it. I definitely love the coloring of this bourbon. Something about it is very striking and I enjoy it. I think that’s enough about how it looks though. Let’s get into the good stuff!
As soon as I opened up this bottle of WL Weller 12 Year I was hit with the big nose of this bourbon. Instantly I picked up the sweetness that comes from this wheated bourbon. Then I began to get the vanilla and caramel. Two bourbon aromas that are hard to miss.
One thing that I have to say and you’re going to think I’m crazy. I had very strange aroma that I couldn’t pin point but I knew I recognized it. I was finally able to pinpoint it after reading the tasting notes on the Buffalo Trace website. It’s the first aroma listed: Lanolin. Now if you’re like me, when you hear lanolin you instantly think of Mr. Ron Burgundy . Ok maybe not?
Anyway, I know the aroma of lanolin because my mother works for a high end cosmetic company. They have this extreme dry skin formula lotion that is nearly a paste format rather than a lotion. I’ve tried it on my hands during the winter when they dry out so badly. The main ingredient is lanolin and it has a very distinct aroma. So I knew it as soon as I opened the bottle, but I couldn’t recall it until I read it on the BT site.
Just to prove my point here is the link to the Extreme Dry Skin therapy lotion and you’ll see the active ingredient of lanolin. So yeah. It’s weird how our senses recall things like that, or in my case don’t recall it, but at least remember what it smells like, kind of.
Ok, hopefully moving away from all the lanolin talk. After I took my first sip I instantly got some spice up front followed by a nice a sweetness on the backend. A lot of bourbons tend to do this which I enjoy. When it’s combined with the recipe’s aroma that’s when it really makes a bourbon unique. I also picked up a nice minty note on the backend. There are some hints of orange and citrus as well. The vanilla notes are there alongside the oak to round everything out. One of the exciting notes that I got was this overall buttery-ness to it. To me this is a very soft palatable bourbon. Much more than the Old Weller Antique I think.
The finish on this WL Weller 12 Year is nice and warm. It’s not hot and spicy and burning all the way down, but it does have a nice soothing warmness to it. The finish is fairly quick, with a nice crisp-ness to it. As I said the heat is there, but it’s not overpowering. It also has a nice savory note that brings you back wanting more.
WL Weller 12 Year: 8/10
Overall I enjoyed this WL Weller 12 Year. I definitely enjoyed it more than I did the Old Weller Antique initially, but still wasn’t blown away. There was a lot of build up and hype about this bourbon and even though I enjoyed it. To me personally it didn’t quite live up to the hype. It had some great flavors and great qualities. I think it’s a great bourbon for someone looking to get into the bourbon scene. However, after tasting it there are many other bourbons out there for around the same price point that I would gladly accept instead.