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2023 Weller 12 Year Wheated Bourbon Review & A Bonus List of Things You Can Buy Instead When You Can't Find It


Weller 12 Year Wheated Bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery

“Knowledge is like a sphere; the greater its volume, the larger its contact with the unknown.”
-David Christian

Weller 12 is (hilariously) where I got my start into loving and exploring bourbon. It was 6 years ago at the time of writing at a gin bar in Texas - a few friends and I had just left a different bar and walked into this spot not expecting much. One friend of mine had been drinking "the good stuff" for some years prior to us stumbling into a gold mine of reasonably priced pours of things you couldn't find back in Massachusetts. The whiskey world today tells me to plug Ohio and Texas as the land(s) of Weller. It made sense I found Weller 12 in Texas. I took two sips and foolishly went to text myself: "FIND WELLER 12 WHEN YOU GET HOME". It would be another 2-3 years before I'd ever own my own bottle.


Weller - The Original Wheated Bourbon - Aged 12 Years

Fast forward to today. Weller 12 still exists. It's still nearly impossible to find, though 2023 seems to be a year of increased supply from my own anecdotal evidence from allocation season. The last release I reviewed was from 2019. It's clearly been a minute since I've sat down with this in any kind of professional capacity, so let's dive in and get reacquainted. Let's taste just how good this rarity is, or perhaps it is not, and then I'll see if I can make some recommendations for you if you find yourself (like most) unable to get one of these for yourself. Bear with me!


 

Company on Label: Buffalo Trace

Whiskey Type: Wheated Bourbon

Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed Buffalo Trace "Wheated Mash Bill"

Proof: 90°

Age: 12 years

Further identification: This is a 2023 release, as identified by the laser code starting with "L23"

 

Nose: Buttery biscuits, butterscotch, caramel, and candied cherry are all bursting from the seams of the cool stream of aromas entering my nose. Raspberry tart, plum pudding and grape gummy notes proliferate in infinite sweetness. Hints of clay and nutmeg gently tease. The well-rested glass substantiates vanilla biscotti and confectioners sugar before fading quickly back into sweet obscurity.


Returning from a sip builds in more supple wood tones from the decade and beyond of new American white oak interactions. It's surprisingly soft for all that age. As waves of sweetness fade I find troves of earthy tones creep in behind. Buttery desserts and sweets continue to prevail in an unapologetically simple medley. It doesn't do much, but what it does, it does well. As the glass nears empty I find a subtle rumination of oak that decomposes into its subparts of cellulose and lignin, ultimately presenting like a sheet of linen. The whiskey-less glencairn smells of a dark red Michigan cherry, apple, and a hint of leather.


Palate: My first sip could easily be mistaken for a bag full of skittles. I find that perfect mixture when you combine a red, orange and yellow together; mmmh. Another sip adds in raspberry jam, sweet tart, and wheat toast. A larger sip and swish creates a thick, oily mouth coating that I love. It carries buttery croissant notes before falling back into a vat of liquid candy. I can see why Americans in general are so crazy for the stuff coming out of Buffalo Trace Distillery; this whiskey tastes like a future cavity. As I ponder the need to check my blood glucose levels, I find the linger to be a bit on the short and soft side. The shortness works here as at 90 proof it just warrants another sip. Succumbing to that sensation reveals a taste that hasn't evolved drastically, but continues to tingle the taste buds with big notes of cherry, plum and raspberry. I'm distinctly reminded of a 1990s slush puppie from my local corner store at the end of my street that I would walk to on hot Summer days. My last sip is thoroughly enjoyable with creamy notes of vanilla, juicy pear, and just a touch of anise. The finish carries whispered promises of water for the desert wanderer as drool-worthy fresh melon, gushers, and glazed doughnuts swing through the mind. Sweet fruitiness clings to every surface of the mouth for a long while after a sip.


TL;DR: Liquid candy at every corner - skittles, cherry, and raspberry, oh my!


 

Rating: 4/5


Well that is undeniably good. How good, you ask? Well, I gave this bottle a 4/5 rating. There happens to be quite a few whiskeys that I also have rated a 4. If you're utterly stuck in the "can't get it" camp, you could possibly start there in your search for your perfect Weller 12 replacement.


Weller 12

If you're a little more needy than that, like I am, let's dive a little deeper on what I enjoyed about this specific whiskey - you might find a specific sub-part that sounds up your alley. Again, bear with me here - this is a bit of a thought experiment. Some of these might sound like a bit of a stretch, but don't you dare knock it 'til you try it.


 

Recommendations for Weller 12 Alternatives


Recommendations based on specific flavors:



 

Recommendations based on wheated mash bill:



 

Recommendations based on age:



 

Recommendations from the whiskey community:


I have been replacing my Weller 12 fix with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. - @nonno_reviews

If I can’t find Weller 12, give me Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Wheated. - @whiskeydizz

I thought IW Harper 15 year was a great alternative until the price skyrocketed and it disappeared off shelves. - @bourbonboot

OWA107 is a fantastic stand-in and it’s somewhat easier to find. Somewhat. - @bostonbourbonboys

My go to instead of Weller is Redemption Wheated. It offers a similar profile but isn’t hunted, making it available. - @hello_unknown_user

Haven't had Weller 12 in years, I just drink Maker's and Larceny. - @bourbon_paddy

If I want wheated? Makers, Boone county or Old Louisville. - @fitwildwest

If I can't get a Weller 12 and really want an aged wheater, I'll go for Rebel 10. If I just want a reliable, tasty wheated bourbon--anything in the Maker's lineup. I also love Larceny expressions, so I feel pretty good. Weller 12 is my favorite Weller though. - @mlriv127

 

That's all for now! Thanks for exploring everything there is to love about my Weller 12 origin story and I hope you find a whiskey you love because of this article. I would love to hear about your whiskey origin story down in the comments!

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