Buffalo Trace’s lineup of wheated bourbons need no introduction. What was recently reserved only for Pappy Van Winkle has extended to the entire product line – absolute frenzy. Finding these bottles on retail shelves is becoming a rarity.
We, collectively, sampled from each of these bottles blind in our February tasting event.
Cocktail: The Ruse
Ingredients: 1 oz. Palo Corta sherry (I used Amontillado), ¾ oz. 80 proof bourbon, ¾ oz. amaro, such as Averna, ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice, ½ oz. orgeat, ½ oz rich simple syrup (2:1), 1 dash Regan’s orange bitters
Recipe: Pour the sherry, bourbon, amaro, lemon juice, orgeat, syrup and bitters in the glass. Fill the glass three-quarters full with crushed ice. Stir with a barspoon until the outside of the glass is frosted. Top with crushed ice and garnish with have an orange wheel and fresh mint.
Bottle 1: 2011 Van Winkle Lot B
Purchase location: Bubbles Liquor World Castle Rock, CO
Nose: Apple, apricot, cherry, vanilla, mild oak,
Palate: Apricot, cherry, mild oak, touch of peach, sweet
Finish: Cherry and oak
Why this bottle is featured: This is the lowest proof in the Van Winkle line up. When I first was getting into bourbon this was my favorite as it was not super strong. This will all so serve as a head-to-head comparison to Weller 12. When I purchased this in 2011, they still sat on the shelf. Wish I would have bought more than three knowing how crazy bourbon has become in the last several years.
Bottle 2: 2018 Weller Special Reserve Kansas Select
Purchase location: Jacob’s Liquor Exchange Wichita, KS
Nose: Alcohol, apple, caramel, honey, light oak
Palate: Sweet, vanilla, caramel
Finish: Starts sweet, finishes with a bite and oak
Why this bottle is featured: This bottle was picked by the distributor for the state of Kansas. The barrel was filled on October 5, 2011 and was bottled 6 years and 8 months later on June 5, 2018.
Bottle 3: 2018 Weller 12 Year
Purchase location: Game Time Wine & Spirits Wichita, KS
Nose: Almond, caramel, vanilla, oak and leather
Palate: Almond, caramel, vanilla and oak
Finish: Some spicy hotness, wheat sweetness is present
Why this bottle is featured: If you believe the rumors, Weller 12 and Van Winkle Lot B are the same bourbons, but Weller 12 is the ones that don’t make the cut for the Van Winkle name.
Bottle 4: Weller Craft Your Perfect Bourbon (C.Y.P.B)
Purchase location: N/A, received samples from generous bourbon friends.
Nose: Cherry wood, dark chocolate, musk cologne, cedar closet, brown sugar, orange peel, drywall, vanilla extract, cherry pit
Palate:. Brown sugar, cherry, Big League chew gum, buttered burnt toast baked apple cinnamon
Finish: Brown sugar continues to carry through with the some salted grilled steak and pineapple; gets a bit drying/tannic towards the very end
Why this bottle is featured: This is the result of a social experiment by Buffalo Trace (https://buffalotracedistillery.com/yourperfectbourbon/). Which is a 8 eight year wheated bourbon aged on the top floors of the rick house and bottled at 95 proof. It was released for the first time in the fall of 2018.
Bottle 5: 2018 Old Weller Antique Selected by Tower Beer Wine & Spirits
Purchase location: Atlanta, GA
Nose: Dark fruit, vanilla & caramel
Palate:. Cinnamon spice, cherries, dark fruits, raw sugar & aged oak
Finish: Cinnamon spice, caramel and vanilla
Why this bottle is featured: This bottle, like the Weller Special Reserve was barreled on October 5, 2011. It was bottled on October 29, 2018 giving it an age of 7 years. Both of these bottles were stored in warehouse K and floor 7. The WSR was rick 22 and the OWA rick 23. Pretty interesting to see the difference 17 proof point and a few extra months of aging makes.
Bottle 6: 2018 Old Rip Van Winkle
Purchase location: Auburn Spirits Wichita, KS
Nose: Butterscotch, gingerbread, caramel
Palate:. Spice, nutmeg, tobacco, burnt caramel
Finish: Dry, heavy oak, hot and simple
Why this bottle is featured: To determine if “Wizard Pappy” is worth the inflated secondary price it commands. It was interesting to taste next to the OWA pick, both were very good, but to me personally give me a solid OWA pick over this any day of the week. Old Rip Van Winkle is a solid bourbon but not worth crazy prices it commands.
Bottle 7: 2019 Weller Full Proof Selected by Tippins
Purchase location: Tippins Market Ann Arbor, MI
Nose: Grape juice, caramel, vanilla, oak and cherry
Palate:. Yeast, vanilla, cherry, pear and cinnamon
Finish: Cherry, caramel, yeast and oak
Why this bottle is featured: This is the latest addition to the Weller lineup coming in at 7 proof points higher than OWA This was barreled one day after the WSR and OWA and aged for a total of 8 years and a month.These bottles are pretty hard to obtain, so thank you to Dominic at Tippin’s for the hook up! This is the first time most of the group has tasted this offering so wanted to see how it stacked up. For the price, I would buy multiples of this if it was readily available.
Bottle 8: 2016 William Larue Weller
Purchase location: Mega Bev Battle Creek, MI
Nose: Prunes, candied nuts, dark caramel dates, rose and violet
Palate:. Butterscotch, shortbread, pepper, figs and cloves
Finish: Warm, bold and slowly says good bye. Minor notes of pine, coffee and tobacco are introduced.
Why this bottle is featured: Of the Weller lineup, this is the flagship BTAC offering. This was hands down the favorite of the night and capped off an excellent blind tasting.
Gentlemen devoted to the finest.