This review has been a long time coming.
Old Weller Antique 107 is a spectacular value and a fantastic bourbon in an overcrowded field of generally unimpressive bourbons. I freakin’ love the whole WL Weller lineup, and any real bourbon enthusiast shares my enthusiasm with good reason: W.L. Weller has the exact same wheated mash bill as Pappy Van Winkle. Not that being associated with
the most overhyped bourbon in history Pappy is a benchmark for quality, but W.L. Weller possesses some unique elements coupled with the familiarity that all bourbon drinkers love.
WILLIAM LARUE WELLER
W.L. Weller’s namesake pays homage to William Larue Weller. Weller was a veteran of the America War with Mexico in 1846. When he returned home to Louisville in 1849, he threw his hat into the bourbon ring but changed the game up with a unique mash bill that used wheat instead of rye. The result was a softer, smoother bourbon that locals went crazy over.
Weller marketed his new whiskey with the slogan, “Honest Whiskey at an Honest Price.”, and marked all his invoices with a green thumbprint to let customers know that they were getting legit Weller bourbon. W.L. Weller may or may not have been the first distiller to use a wheated mash bill, but he is credited with being so.
Weller’s namesake company eventually went on to merge with Pappy Van Winkle’s A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Stitzel-Weller kept the winning formula in play by exclusively producing wheat-recipe bourbons. Legend has it that one of the most popular wheated mainstream bourbons, Makers Mark, used a similar recipe and legend has it even borrowed yeast and distillery designs from Stitzel-Weller when first starting.
I mentioned earlier that Weller shares the exact same mash bill as Pappy, but its actually the other way around. Pappy got its mash bill from the original Weller line.
In 1893, when he was 18 years old, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr. began working as a salesman for W.L. Weller. Fifteen years later, he and another Weller salesman bought the firm, and with it their recipe for success!
OLD WELLER ANTIQUE 107 BOURBON TASTING NOTES
W.L. Weller sits on the shelf with a warm caramel glow that radiates its confidence as a superior bourbon. The bottle is unassuming, but I have learned that pretty bottles can hide ugly bourbons. Besides, if you know me you know I will drink bourbon out of a half washed jelly jar if need be.
Nosing W.L. Weller is like nosing an old wood burning stove baking a cherry pie. You smell real baking spices – cinnamon, allspice, and brown sugar – and the char of an old oak barrel. This nose makes me happy.
True to nose, the first sips are complex. Cherry dances with pepper, smoke mingles with green grass, orange and cinnamon bun makes this a dangerously drinkable bourbon at 107 proof. The wheat mash bill adds a notable smoothness that high rye mash bills dont always offer. Weller carries its proof like a bourbon that knows it doesn’t have anything to prove, making it ideal for new bourbon drinkers and old enthusiasts alike.
Weller has a slightly oily texture and a full body that sticks to your palate. Its finish is medium, but the flavors that you are left to enjoy last long enough to make you smile.
From nose to taste to finish, WL Weller is an honest, complex, and substantially enjoyable bourbon. And the price? About $8 a pour or $30 a fifth (if you can find it!)
Because of the increasing rarity of Weller, its superior quality, complex flavor, balance, and body, I give this bourbon an A+.
This bourbon is perfection. It is not fit to be used as a mixer. It should be sipped slow and appreciated for the fine bourbon that it is. Old Weller Antique 107 could easily become the bourbon of the day, every day.