Friday, February 17, 2017

W.L. Weller 12 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $65 (1.75 Liters)
- 90 Proof
- 12 Years

This bottle was something that I really just fell into. While shopping at one of my local stores, someone else came in asking for some Elmer T. Lee. The clerk looked it up and learned that they had six bottles in back. Overhearing this conversation, I asked him to grab one for me as well. After the other customer left, this clerk then let me know of other bottles just sitting in back and not yet out on the shelves, including a 1.75 Weller 12, available at retail, nonetheless. So, while I was not seeking it out, it nonetheless came home with me.

I haven't purchased a "handle" of booze since my college days, and for some reason this one seemed to last a lot longer than I recall them lasting back then. Granted those were usually handles of Captain Morgan, so I wasn't exactly taking my time to enjoy them.

Weller 12 has become quite the rarity, these days, even a collectible. I can't tell you how many "crotch-shots" I've seen online of someone with a bourbon brag over a bottle of Weller 12 they just located. Obviously much of this stems from comparisons to Pappy, though having never had Pappy, I've got no frame of reference here. I can only compare to other wheated bourbons that I've tried, and I must say, this stacks up with the best of them.

The nose is delicious! It's heavy on the vanilla, with a certain earthiness to it, kind of a blend of leather and wood. It all balanced very well, and it smelled so good I wanted to snort it (though I ultimately thought better of it).

The bourbon itself is very drinkable neat. It's not thick or oily in texture, but rather on the watery side. Nonetheless, it has a rich sweetness to it that gives it strong character and allows it to hold up nonetheless. It is very vanilla forward, with a very mild cinnamon spice undertone. I also got a decent amount of oakiness to it, however, it did not have any of that dry bite that older bourbons so frequently get.

There was a sweet tang to it as well. I couldn't quite place my tongue on it, but it reminded me of that bit of tang you get from the crème of tartar in snickerdoodle cookies (one of my favorite cookies!). In fact, overall this bourbon reminded me a lot of snickerdoodles . . . and graham crackers. Snickerdoodle graham crackers! (Someone needs to make those!)

This was an excellent after-dinner pour. In addition to the sweetness, it also had the right amount of burn--actually more than I expected given its proof--that, although it may have just been a placebo, felt like it really helped me digest whatever I just ate. Additionally, this bourbon picked up greater sweetness over time. The last few pours were genuinely dessert-like, with the sweet vanilla completely overtaking any burn, spice or underlying wood tones. There was also a lot of sweet tobacco towards the finish which, with the heavy vanilla, was delicious. I liked it at first, and I REALLY liked it at the end.

I'm not sure if the hype is real or not, and I'm not certain that the secondary prices are worth it. However, at retail, this is an excellent bourbon for the cost, and I wouldn't hesitate at all to grab it again, even if it did take a while to get through the big bottle!

Grade: B+

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