Weller Antique 107
My local grocery store recently conducted a rare, and unique bourbon raffle. I happened upon the line waiting to sign up the first 200 fans. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later I saw that my number had been drawn - in fact, all 200 fans won the opportunity to purchase a coveted bourbon at MSRP. My winner - Weller 107.
Pappy's Legacy The story of the modern Weller brand traces back to the merger of the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery and the Weller Distillery in April 1935. Led by Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr. (yes, that "Pappy Van Winkle"), the Weller brand became one of the highest quality bourbons in America. The Weller brand highlighted what Bill Samuels of Maker's Mark would uncover two decades later - that replacing the secondary grain of rye with wheat can lead to a softer, smoother taste. Son Julian Jr. continued the distillery for another 7 years following the passing of Pappy in 1965. Ultimately, the distillery assets were sold to meet family demands during the dark days of bourbon. Julian Jr. continued his father's legacy by bottling some of Stitzel-Weller's juice under the Old Rip Van Winkle label. A decade later in 1981, Pappy's grandson Julian III took over operations. In 1999, Buffalo Trace and Julian III joined forces and began producing the Van Winkle line along with the W.L. Weller brand at their Frankfort location. Buffalo Trace remains mum on the exact mash components, other than sharing that Van Winkle and Weller share a common wheated mash bill.
The Tasting There is no indication of the mash bill for this wheated bourbon, nor is there an age statement - though most feel it is in the 6-8 year range. It is bottled at 107 proof (hence the name) in a burgundy-labeled bottle. From the website, we're expecting sweet and unusual floral notes and coupled with vanilla, that is well balanced with sweet fruit notes, strong vanilla undertone and sharp spicy tones, with a cinnamon finish. Eye: Bright copper with a host of legs splayed across the inside of the glass. Nose: This has a deliciously vanilla-forward nose along with fruit compote and freshly cut wood. A couple of drops of water adds some tobacco leaf scents.
Palate: Sweet vanilla balanced with spice and toffee-like notes (think Heath Bar). A couple drops of water tames some of the spice and brings the sweet vanilla notes even more forward. Finish: Medium-long with vanilla-cinnamon followed by oak char.
Overall: I received a bottle of this as a parting gift from staff when I retired from one job before pursing another, and a second, with a winning "golden ticket" at a grocery store raffle. I'm a fan of Weller (when I can purchase it) and at MSRP, it is one of the finest bourbons available. The only problem - huge markups and secondary sellers. At around $60+, this is a really good bourbon. At a 50% or 100% markup, it's not worth it. We were snowbirding in a controlled state and saw even the Weller Special Reserve (green label) marked up to $100. In summary - a great bourbon - if you can find it close to MSRP. Definitely an up-sell over the lower-proof Weller Special Reserve. This is rich, flavorful, and is delicious neat or on the rocks. If you find it marked up significantly, it may not be worth the money, as you might be able to grab two, three, or even four solid bottles of bourbon for what you'd pay in a marked-up scenario.