February 2020: Buffalo Trace Wheated Bourbons

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

Proof: 90.4

Price: $45

Purchase location: Bubbles Liquor World Castle Rock, CO

Tasting Notes:

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

Proof: 90

Price: $27

Purchase location: Jacob’s Liquor Exchange Wichita, KS

Tasting Notes:

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

Proof: 90

Price: $45

Purchase location: Game Time Wine & Spirits Wichita, KS

Tasting Notes:

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)

Proof: 95

Price: $40

Purchase location: N/A, received samples from generous bourbon friends.

Tasting Notes:

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 

Proof: 107

Price: $35

Purchase location: Atlanta, GA

Tasting Notes:

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

Proof: 107

Price: $300

Purchase location: Auburn Spirits Wichita, KS

Tasting Notes:

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

Proof: 114

Price: $70

Purchase location: Tippins Market Ann Arbor, MI

Tasting Notes:

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

Proof: 135.4

Price: $90

Purchase location: Mega Bev Battle Creek, MI

Tasting Notes:

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.

William Larue Weller 2018 Review

William Larue Weller 2018

Better late then never!  As fans of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (or, as it is more commonly known as, “BTAC”), we at Flight Club love to hunt down and buy/taste as many of the BTAC releases as we can, as soon after their November nationwide release as possible.  But when one of our perennial favorites – William Larue Weller – doesn’t drop in our market until the following March, our tasting (and review) is a little late to the party.  But to get a chance to taste it, again, better late than never!

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Thomas H. Handy 2018

Thomas H. Handy 2018

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is a barrel proof rye and part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Regarded as a benchmark of barrel proof American rye, it is always a barely legal (51%) rye and six years old.

This is one of our favorite rye whiskeys each year. The Thomas H. Handy 2018 release was bottled at 128.8 proof, which is a slight increase from the last two years. The 2016 Thomas H. Handy was 126.2 proof. The 2017 Thomas H. Handy was 127.2 proof.

For the 2016 and 2017 releases, there was a noticeable switch between the taste. The 2016 release tasted just as much like bourbon as it did rye. The 2017 release was a much more distinctly rye whiskey.

So, how about the 2018 release?

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Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year

A bottle that hardly needs an introduction, 2018 Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year bourbon.

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year

The Pappy Van Winkle brand has become its own metaphor. Instead of describing Pappy Van Winkle bourbon as the “holy grail” or “golden goose,” other products can be aptly described as “the Pappy Van Winkle of [fill in the blank].”

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