William Larue Weller 2021 Wheated Bourbon Review
The pinnacle of "Weller Wednesday"... This is the top of the Weller food chain and only comes but once a year as part of Buffalo Trace's "Antique Collection" aka BTAC. This is the first bottle I have owned personally but I have tried it on a few other occasions with friends. Historically I have preferred George T Stagg to this release personally, but I'm ready to give this one a fair shake on a full review tonight. I have had two glasses from this bottle prior to get to know it a little bit and make sure my tasting tonight isn't too far of an anomaly.
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 2021 release came with a NFC circuit under the cap foil and is proudly stated as being uncut and unfiltered. 64% of the initial distilled whiskey was lost to barrel evaporation from this batch. More batch information can be found in the PDF below.
Nose: Oh wow, the cherry that exudes from this glass is rich and inviting right up front. It reminds me a lot of the Weller Antique cherry that carries that touch of cinnamon hot spice. Immediately that folds into a nice leather base that shows off some exceptional age. Searing heat will greet your nose if you dive a little too deep, but before the flames devour your senses an intense crème brulée can be found. There's a bit of chocolate mixed well into the oak here as the nose returns to a sweet cherry forward feel. Raisin comes across almost dusty in texture as I inhale the vapours from the glass deeply. Rich red wine bubbles up and leans a touch more tannic than sweet here. Fig, graham cracker and dark grape brandy aromas do well as some extra complexity makes itself known. Hints of citrus interweave themselves with the cherry. Though the citrus fruit presents subtly, it comes across predominantly leaning like a navel orange. Black pepper nudges its way past the leather aromas at times and it shows up in bright firecracker flashes in the nostrils when it materializes. There is certainly a soft, oak base to this release suggesting some mellower low floor rickhouse aging years. Mmm, I'm back to that sweet candied cherry aroma. Time for a sip.
Wow, after going for a sip the oak has gotten so much richer and darker and is now laced with a heavy molasses note. I find buttered popcorn on deep inhales. There are some herbal tones that balance out nicely with the cinnamon spiced fruitiness; it reminds me of a late Fall hike among the crunchy leaves. Mmm. The toasted vanilla and graham cracker notes have evolved marvelously. I feel like this would pair so well with hot chocolate. The bright vanilla definitely is the catalyst for an incredibly well balanced nose feel. Oh my! Blackberry cobbler just jumped onto the scene in a huge way. Incredibly syrupy and jammy in the nose-feel I find myself diving back into the glass to try to find more, but it softly fades into the crème brulée base I've come to expect out of every inhale. Yum. It borderlines on a sugary cream similar to the inside of a cow tale. The empty glass smells of rich oak, chocolate funk, and beautiful ripe cherries.
Palate: I expected my first sip to be a doozy, but this actually came across incredibly well balanced with the candied cherry (think E.H. Taylor Single Barrel) and then a big drop of cinnamon hots that expands from the center of my tongue outward through my whole being. This feels a lot like Weller Antique 107 cranked up a few notches. Another sip and swish reveals cardamom behind the cherry wave this time. It continues to have a bit of proof imbalance on the linger for me tonight. Pressing on I continue to find the same profile delivering each time. There's a sweet cherry pop, a short sizzle of a vanilla bean fuse before the cinnamon hots bomb goes off. It's a lovely series of events and flavors but I would have expected something to have been a bit more nuanced or varied by now on a barrel proof pour such as this. Now we're getting somewhere about halfway through the glass the heat has settled some and I begin to find some new nuances. Raspberry pie is a nice surprise! The delivery now though is much shorter and doesn't give me that wave of excellence that barrel proof pours should deliver. The mouth coating is on the thinner side which is surprising for an unfiltered release such as this. Oooh a longer seat on the tongue delivers delicious cherry cola. I'm suddenly really digging this. I fear this release may be one that requires some significant air time to really shine, so I'd urge you to practice patience with this pour if you have one of these bottles. The flavors here continue to be quite subtle on their delivery. My last sip brings about vanilla soaked oak, orange peel, and plenty of cherry hots that linger on the longest.
(Really good; I want one of these on my shelf.)
An exceptionally delectable nose here was definitely the highlight of the glass. The palate, while delicious, definitely did not deliver enough to earn my top mark. I'm certainly still very grateful to have a bottle of this and I look forward to seeing how it evolves over time. If the current trend continues, I think this bottle gets significantly better with time and more oxygen as my first pour was definitely a let down (for a unicorn caliber bottle) and tonight's tasting was an incremental improvement from there. I may make an update later on as the bottle gets lower over time! Cheers & thanks for reading! Bonus follow up: I did a few micro-sips of some other Weller products to re-ground myself. This William Larue release is certainly significantly better than the flagship Antique release, but I think I have a Full Proof pick that I'd prefer for a more complex, delicious pour (at least on the palate; no other Weller I've had can live up to this nose).