Thursday, April 18, 2019

Getting Vertical With Weller

Bourbon Facebook groups have become quite a thing. All over Facebook you can find pages where people can discuss bourbon, share bottles they've find (with the ever-present crotch-shots!), swap samples, sell and trade bottles, and even run lotteries. While I enjoy lurking in these groups (my participation is pretty minimal), I find my personal version to be so much better. After all, I've got my own close group of friends that are also whiskey enthusiasts with whom I make frequent liquor store runs, share my successes and shortcomings in tracking down elusive bottles, texting tasting notes, and, of course, otherwise engaging in various levels of debauchery.

What's great about this group, though, is that it's all about sharing the wealth. A success for one person in the group is a success for all. The relationship that one of us builds with a store owner or manager inures to the benefit of all of us. And as a result, collectively we tend to have really good whiskey at our fingertips. In fact, one day at lunch, we realized the backlog of various Weller products we had among the group of us, and we realized that we had the makings of an almost-perfect Weller vertical. Being ones to share the wealth, we decided we'd give back to some of those aforementioned liquor store relationships. A relationship is, after all, a two-way street!

And so, it came to be that on a Tuesday evening, at Monk's Pub in downtown Chicago, one of our favorite lunch spots, we were able to host a nice vertical tasting of Weller (unfortunately everything but William Larue Weller, as none of us wanted to shell out the secondary coin necessary to make that happen--we were far from feeling shorted, though). Our line-up was:
  • Weller Special Reserve
  • Weller Antique Warehouse Liquors Single Barrel Select Barrel #399
  • Weller Antique Binny's Small Batch Select Batch #4 NCF
  • Weller 12 Year
  • Weller C.Y.P.B.
Needless to say, even without the BTAC, it was a lineup we would never replicate again. We invited the guys from our local store, guys with whom we've come to appreciate just shooting the shit far more than their willingness to give us the head's up on new products or to hold back something we're after (though that is, obviously, incredibly appreciated!). It was the users and the dealers, all coming together to share an appreciation of good whiskey, and perhaps get a bit tipsy in the process, and we did it all without a single crotch-shot.

While I think we all enjoyed each pour, the overall consensus favorite was the Weller 12 Year.  Personally I preferred the Antique 107 Binny's Small Batch, but I was in the minority as far as picking a favorite. What was the most interesting, however, was that to a man everybody ranked the C.Y.P.B. last, behind not only the Antiques and the 12 Year, but even the Weller Special Reserve.  For all the hype that surrounds it, when put up against its brethren, it came across watery in texture, thin and fleeting in flavor, and overall unremarkable.

And so, towards the end of the evening, after the "official" tasting was completed, we found ourselves pouring the Weller 12 and the Antique Binny's Small Batch Select now that the pours were strictly for the purpose of enjoying ourselves and drinking what we wanted to drink while we continued to enjoy good food and good company.

By the end of it all, regardless of votes, regardless of hype and regardless of value or cost, what we all had was a great time of bullshitting, ball-busting and some of that good, old-fashioned debauchery, all while enjoying some really good whiskey. And that's what it's all about!!

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