Distiller: Buffalo Trace. ABV: 53.5%. No age statement. Mashbill: undisclosed (wheated). Price: $25 (in theory).
Old Weller Antique is part of Buffalo Trace’s knockout line of (formerly) affordable wheated bourbons, which also includes the Weller Special Reserve and the Weller 12. All three use wheat as the flavoring grain rather than rye, and all three used to be accessible at very fair prices. As recently as Spring 2015, you could find the top-of-the-line Weller 12 on shelves in CA for under $30, and the other two were $5-10 cheaper.
Alas, some weisenheimer at GQ or Maxim or some equally august publication had to go and deem the Weller 12 “the next best thing to Pappy van Winkle,” based on the fact that the Weller line shares a distillery, mashbill, and warehouse with the infamous “best bourbon in the world.”
In weeks, anything with the name “Weller” on the bottle vanished from shelves everywhere. When the Wellers showed up again, they were marked up by 25-50%. Then more. I nearly hit the floor when I saw a bottle of Weller 12 at a store in Glendale, CA, for $149.99. I asked the seller if anyone bought it at that price. “They do,” he said. “Matter of fact, I just sold a case.”
So let’s get to the juice.
The nose on the Old Weller Antique is big and bold sweetness with lots of fruit, caramel and vanilla. On the palate, it has a chewy texture of sweet caramel apples drizzled with fresh honey. Then comes a spicy punch of cinnamon–a fist wrapped in a lace glove of floral notes. Cinnamon and heat linger on the medium finish.
It’s got a bite the Weller 12 doesn’t–no surprise since it’s 107 proof, versus the Weller 12’s 90, plus it’s about five years younger. Don’t pay through the nose for it, and if you find it, keep it classy and don’t buy more than two bottles–nobody likes a hoarder.
But at a fair price, this remains one of the beat deals around. Cheers, friends! – JTR & BO