This highly anticipated yearly release from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection has arrived for your evaluation. This is typically one of the fan-favorites as the king of the Weller lineup. If Weller Full Proof is the pinnacle of barrel selection, this is the brand's magnus opus. I've done quite a few Weller picks with local retailers now, and if they'd let me, I'd absolutely want to bottle them at barrel proof like this release is.
If you're not familiar, barrel proof means that no water is added to the whiskey prior to bottling. You get the closest experience to thieving straight from the barrel which is an awesome thing to do if you get the chance.
Now - is this the true crown of the Weller line? Are you ready to go out hunting for it? Read on to see if this release seems like it would be up your alley.
Company on Label: Buffalo Trace
Whiskey Type: Wheated Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed Buffalo Trace "Wheated Mash Bill" (likely ~15% wheat; no rye)
Age: 12 years
Further identification: This 2022 release came with an NFC tag under the foil that encapsulates the cork and cap; more information can be found in the document below:
Nose: Deep barrel funk is most dominant here as I raise the glass to my nose. On any level of inhale brown sugar, black pepper, leather, tobacco, salinity and earthiness completely take over the senses. Funky herbal tones swirl in the background. The funk cannot be understated. After quite a few pass throughs vanilla begins to be discernible from the rest of the dark, rich profile. Chocolate and graham cracker tones soothe the fiery glass. Time for a sip.
Coming back to the nose I find that rick house funk aroma to be everywhere. This is a great example of what you can give to someone if they tell you they have never been in a barrel warehouse. There's a slight air of vinegar in here that is odd, but not a deal breaker to the rest of the glass. I found this vinegar note on several tastings, so I've confirmed it is not an anomaly. It harkens back a bit to the salinity I was finding earlier in the glass. Deep inhales show off classic caramel, molasses and level oak. The breadiness of the palate comes through in spades near the bottom of the glass. Once empty, I smell decadent brown sugar, pancake batter, magnificent oak and maple syrup. Whew.
Palate: My first sip is coating and pervasive, filled with maraschino cherry, nutmeg and juicy plum. Another sip is red grape forward with deep layers of raspberry tart, blackberry peach cobbler and dark graham cracker. The balance between fruit and bread tones is lovely here along with the thick, oily consistency of the mouthfeel. A longer sip and swish reveals the true power of the dark, rich fruitiness in this glass. Delicious and potent, I find cherry, raspberry and blackberry to be the dominant notes of the glass with other subtleties struggling to keep up with those powerhouse flavors. As I sip near the bottom of the glass I find the cherry notes continue to proliferate. This is blended for perfect balance of flavor volume and approachability for the experienced whiskey enthusiast. It doesn't quite knock my socks off, but I'm sure glad to be drinking it today. Much like the 2021 edition of this label, I think this stands head and shoulders above the normal Weller lineup, but may pale in comparison to a really good Weller Full Proof single barrel pick (which is unfortunately few and far between). My last sip is zesty with orange peel introducing dark chocolate bits and a huge wave of cherry and plum that crashes over the palate like a tumultuous wave. The finish is strong and long with cinnamon hots sizzling on the tongue before a long Kentucky hug is followed by a satisfying caramel chew. Coconut shavings and grilled pineapple are intriguing notes in the linger. My mouth is left salivating trying to catch up to the intense viscosity that this delivers with. Solid pour all the way through!
TL;DR: A funktastic nose introduces a powerhouse of maraschino cherry, raspberry and blackberry
This is quite delicious whiskey with all the red fruits you could ask for. Most Weller picks can do something pretty close to this, but this is definitely a touch more refined than most and it carries far more depth. I'm glad to have a bottle of this to explore and share!