|from winesearcher's market data|
Avg price in September 2014 - $26
Avg price in September 2016 - $215
Price increase in two years: 727%
While I have heard unofficial tales about decreased allocations of Weller 12, I have also seen stories in Esquire and Wall Street Journal encouraging their readers to seek out the Wellers if they can't find the Van Winkles. So with a little less supply, more demand, and even more "let's see what these dopes will pay for this stuff" WL Weller finds itself with a 700% price increase.
As this is a wheated bourbon -- thus uses wheat in the mashbill as its flavoring grain rather than rye -- and I'm not the biggest fan of modern wheaters (though I do ♥ dusty Old Fitzes), I did try the Weller 12 alongside a pour of Heaven Hill's wheated Larceny. I'll review Larceny at another time. This post is about Master Weller.
Owner: Buffalo Trace (via Sazerac)
Brand: WL Weller
Distillery: Buffalo Trance Distillery
Location: Franklin, Kentucky
Mash Bill: unknown, but it does use wheat rather than rye as its flavoring grain
Age: at least 12 years
ABV: 45% ABV
(I am reviewing from a purchased sample)
The nose starts off with vanilla, caramel, and oak (duh). Oak char, sap, and bark. With time it gets creamier and desserty, but I'm still sniffin' tree here. Okay, there's some fresh apricots or apricot jam, and black cherry ice cream. After a half hour it picks up a barbecue sauce note. The palate is dirtier and earthier than I expected. It's austere (oh that word) for a bourbon, at first. Gradually the sweets (definitely honey) come around as does a peppery zip. Burnt corn on the cob. A hint of maraschino cherries. Something reminiscent of dusty bourbons, like a whiff of metal+vanilla. Overall it's Tannin City, or maybe Tannin Island since there's water all around. The muted finish is mostly barrel char with granulated sugar, burnt corn, and orange peel. Some hints of vanilla and black pepper in the background.
To me, this was an acceptable bourbon, likely worth $30 in this market, though probably had some competitors at $10-$15 in the previous decade. The nose works, even with the felled forest within, and the palate's earthy and dusty notes keep it entertaining. But the thinness to the mouthfeel and generic finish keep it from being anything more than okay. If I magically find a bottle at its old price, I will buy it for cocktails, casual sipping, and maybe even a re-review if it exceeds (or falls short of) this experience. Otherwise, I liked Larceny more and I even found Weller 107 better than this.
For those who have purchased a bottle of this for $200, have you opened your bottle and consumed its contents? Did it provide $200 worth of pleasure? Please help me here with some details because I don't understand it.
Availability - It's still out there, don't be afeared of the scare tactics
Pricing - Be afraid, be very afraid
Rating - 81