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!
Containing the enviable wheated mash bill from Buffalo Trace and aged for 12 years, William Larue Weller is essentially cask strength Van Winkle Family Reserve Lot “B.” People go nuts for anything designated with the “Van Winkle” name, but true connoisseurs know that William Larue Weller is worth the hype.
A member of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection since 2005, William Larue Weller is the lone wheated mashbill bourbon in the lineup. Like George T. Stagg and Thomas H. Handy, William Larue Weller is released at cask strength, which has varied from 121.9 to 140.2 proof. The age of the release has also varied, between 10 and 15 years, but has remained steady at 12 years since 2012.
The William Larue Weller 2018 release is 12 years and 6 months old, and clocks in at 125.7 proof, and was pulled from Warehouses C, I, K, L M and Q. Like the releases of the past (and as now made notable by the upcoming Full Proof release), the distillate went into the barrel at 114 proof.
For a comparison of the 2016 and 2017 releases, check on the following:
Nose: Cinnamon; raisin; brown sugar; nutmeg; salted chocolate covered cherry; strawberry bubble gum; grape/strawberry/cream soda; fig; dusty oak. Some noticeable burn. (3.5/5)
Palate: Dry and slightly tannic, yet still incredibly sweet; cocoa; cinnamon; nutmeg; cherry; brown sugar; plum. A continuation of the berry bubble gum. (4.5/5)
Finish: Long. Sweet brown sugar cinnamon; white pepper; allspice; nutmeg; cherry soda; red apple skin. (4/5).
Overall: This year’s release leaves a lasting “bubble gum” impression – sweet berry flavored, but a bit artificial. Still lovely but not the beast of some of the past years. Although I didn’t try them side by side, this is less drying/cocoa-y than 2017, but still the age shows with some brute. (4/5)
Value: Acquiring this at retail/MSRP proved impossible for us this year. Luckily, we were able to try this at Monarch for $25 a pour. At that price, or at a bottle retail price of $100-$150, this is certainly more than satisfying. (4/5)
“Still lovely but not the beast of some of the past years.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.