Nose: The strong alcohol smell is quickly overtaken by an intense wood scent. The sweet wheat aroma is accompanied by hints of orange and minor hints of maple and caramel.
Palate: Aggressive. Although that is to be expected of a 136 proof bourbon, but what’s surprising is its less than expected burn. An intense load of flavors hits your tongue at first sip: so much so, it’s almost hard to pick it apart. This rich flavor isn’t overpowered by the alcohol, but rather it overpowers the alcohol. There are so many flavors that hit your tongue all at once that it can be a shock. It opens with caramel, honey and butterscotch, but quickly gives way to its oaky foundation with hints of tobacco.
Finish: Long. Very long. Rich and complex flavors swirl with wood being the easiest to name first. The burn has a way of lingering much like the flavors do. Even the smallest of sips pack a flavor punch. Deep profile indeed.
Uniqueness: William Larue Weller is in the top ranks for uniqueness. A barrel proof wheater is a rarity in today’s bourbon landscape. Few companies make wheat based bourbon, let along a barrel proof version. With Pappy Van Winkle being the commercial success it is, it’s a surprise more distillers haven’t announce plans to expand into the wheat game. It will be interesting to see how long Buffalo Trace can maintain its levels of wheated bourbon. With currently Weller Special Reserve, Weller Antique 107, Weller 12 yr, the Van Winkle line (10 yr, 12 yr, 15 yr, 20 yr and soon 23 yr) that’s a lot of bourbon that all share the same basic mashbill. That being said, the Weller might not be as sophisticated in its palate as the Pappy line, but it makes up for it in flavor shock value.
Value: With William Larue Weller being a barrel proof version of Weller 12 yr at 3 ½ times the price, is it a good value? A mere five years ago you would have gotten a collective “No.” Now with ever rising demand versus supply issues and an inflation of bourbon prices across the board, the answer changes to yes, this is a good value. There is very little on the shelves that it can be compared to, both in what it is and how it tastes.
Overall: This bourbon could be classified under professional level. A better understanding of the bourbon landscape, Buffalo Trace’s wheated bourbon line and a developed palate all help make William Larue Weller a fascinating bourbon to drink. Of course anyone can have fun drinking this one, but that extra layer of knowledge brings with it additional reasons to notice it.
To sum it up: Bold, Flavorful, Interesting, Fun
-Eric - Reviewed: 3/2014
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