W. L. Weller 12 Background
Named after William Larue Weller, Weller 12 is the 12 year expression in a line of wheated Bourbons from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Wheated means the mash recipe uses wheat and not rye as the secondary grain. The majority is still corn and a little malted barley to convert the mash. Buffalo Trace’s lineup also includes Old Weller Antique at 107-proof and W.L. Weller Special Reserve at 90-proof. Weller 12 year here is also at 90-proof but about twice as old as the other products. There is also William Larue Weller as part of the annual Antique Collection that probably could be considered a selection of Weller 12 at barrel proof. So, there’s a good range of expressions produced.
Weller is credited as the first to use a wheat recipe for Bourbon. The resulting recipe makes for generally a sweeter and milder whiskey. The character isn’t directly related to the use of wheat as much as the lack of rye. Another bonus of using wheat is it’s thought a wheated Bourbon ages better. Thus, we get the most popular wheated Bourbons in the heavily aged Pappy Van Winkle line.
Speaking of Pappy, Weller 12 has gotten a lot of press as a Pappy alternative. Pappy and the Wellers use the same mash bill and they share the Sitzel-Weller Distillery legacy. Either currently or in the near future all Pappy should share the same Weller juice as barrels from Buffalo Trace come to age. Difference between all these Bourbons is basically bottling proof and barrel section, in addition to age.
12 year age statement. Bottled at 90-proof. Wheated grain bill with no rye. Purchased for $24.
Bunch of charred oak and vanilla. Caramel, black cherries. Cola. Tobacco.
Ample oak and vanilla with buttery flavors. Charred wood in there. If you’re a barrel fan, this is tasty. Cherries, toffee. Rich sweetness. Oak astringency and that’s taming the sweet. And some tartness. Getting some medicinal on the back-end that’s got me cleansing my palate a bit.
I had a sample of this a while back and enjoyed the barrel influences. It was my first longer aged Bourbon and it’s what really turned me on to Bourbons. It took me a while to get my hands on this bottle and I’m still impressed with the rich and oaky experience. Nice complexity and it’s a bit of a departure from a lot of the other Bourbons out there. The finish is a little rougher than I remember, but is still quite enjoyable.
Compared to Old Weller, Antique, Weller 12 seems a little flatter, but with nice oak complexities. The higher proof and younger Old Weller Antique I think is just more lively even if rougher around the edges. Even still, I still prefer Weller 12 to Old Weller Antique for the age and barrel flavors.
Right now I’m vatting a couple samples of Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique. I’m curious to sit down with those. One is 50/50 and the other is 60/40 Old Weller/Weller 12. I sneaked a sip and the more feisty Old Weller and the rich complexities of Weller 12 seem to go well.
Weller 12 can be hard to find and I’d guess it’s not going to get better. Being the same juice as Pappy, significant age on the bottle, and a great price, I’d guess people are going to keep scooping it up. When I managed to track some down, I stocked up. I’d suggest buying a bottle if you can find it, and if you like it, run back to buy another.
Buy Again - 4.5/5 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)