This review was originally posted as part of the Wheated Bourbon Throw Down.
What it is:
W.L. Weller is produced in Frankfort, KY at the massive Buffalo Trace Distillery. In years past, it was owned by the Van Winkle family and produced at the famed Stitzel-Weller distillery. Today, it shares the mash bill of the Pappy offerings, though the aging locations, times, and barrel choices differ.
Though age statements have been removed from the label, W.L. Weller is likely a 4-7 year old bourbon bottled at 90 proof. My bottle was a barrel-select program from the same big box store, and cost $20.
W.L. Weller is packaged in a squat, rounded bottle similar to the other two standard Weller offerings. It has a white plastic screen-printed label and green screw top. It proudly declares itself “The original Wheated Bourbon.” The packaging reflects the price, which is to say “It looks cheap.”
W.L. Weller is a light amber with definite golden tints. It looks light and sweet.
Weller begins with a crisp citrusy sweetness on the tip of the tongue. There are hints of honey, strong peach and apricot with orange peel and heavy fruit on the back of the tongue. Weller seems a little ‘thin’ for a wheated bourbon, lacking the tongue-coating texture of some older wheated bourbons.
Weller is a very short finish, very clean and crisp, with faint hints of citrus on the back of the tongue.
W.L. Weller has received an awful lot of talk recently with the common bones it shares with its more refined cousins at Pappy Van Winkle. But let me say this to those of you hoarding this like it is Pappy Van Winkle bourbon: It isn’t. Stop it. It’s solid, especially for the price. But you are not getting a cheaper version of the same whiskey here. This is a young bourbon for a wheater, and suffers the same flaws younger wheat bourbons suffer from. It’s a little thin, lacks a lot of punch, and the wheat hasn’t had enough time in the barrel to develop the textures that make Pappy and other wheated bourbons so pleasing on the tongue. It is not a bad bourbon. But it is not a great one either, nor is it even the best option in its price range for fans of wheated bourbons in particular. It is drinkable and affordable.
ModernThirst.com Score: 80 out of 100 points.
Compare to: Makers Mark, Old Fitzgerald
The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.
- Appearance: 15 points
- Nose: 25 Points
- Palate/Taste: 35 Points
- Finish: 25 points
- 95+ Epic
- 90-94 Excellent, Good representative of its style
- 85-89 Solid sipper
- 80-84 Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
- 75-79 Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
- <75 Rot Gut, avoid