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BOTM, 2/08: WL Weller Special Reserve


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What do you love about bourbon? Is it the flavor? What about the history behind your favorite brand? Or is it the memories of good times shared with friends and family over a bottle from your top-shelf collection? Well, there's lots of things to love about bourbon, and a few that come to mind are:

Quality - A good bourbon will balance grain character with just the right amount of wood to lend a satisfying taste, body and finish.

Availability - While we all cherish that rare gem that was expensive and/or hard to find, we want our favorites to be close at hand when we are ready for them.

Value - It's no secret to folks here that some of the best values often go overlooked by shoppers following the latest trend or rating.

Once again we celebrate February with a bourbon that's easy love: WL Weller Special Reserve. For about $12 you can taste love in a bottle. Still retaining the 7yo age statement, Buffalo Trace has gone to great lengths to ensure that this legacy brand lives up to its pedigree. Full-bodied and well balanced, WLWSR is one of the best values on the market. It's priced for dual use as a sipping bourbon, or as a mixer for your guests. Can you feel the love?

So join me in celebration of our romance with bourbon :toast:

:893drillsergeant-thSound off:893drillsergeant-th

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I won't bore with my oft-told tale that this was my first 'favorite' bourbon. Of course, those 'first' bottles were S-W distillate from Louisville -- of which I still have a few -- and began my love of (nearly) all things Stitzel-Weller.

I don't have a current bottle in hand, but will pick one up as early as possible for a complete tasting, and report.

While, as appropriate in this thread, I'll emphasize the 7yo Special Reserve, I'll be able to compare the following W.L. Weller bottlings:

  • 7yo/90 proof (Special Reserve, current Frankfort)
  • 7/90 (Special Reserve, Louisville)
  • 7/BIB (Special Reserve, 1949)
  • 8/BIB (Special Reserve, 1950)
  • 10/100 (Centennial/Louisville)
  • 12/90 (current Frankfort)
  • 12/90 (single-barrel, Stitzel-Weller)

Jeff, you've made me very (varied) happy!:grin: :toast:

(If any of you willing possessors of W.L. Weller 19yo is en route to Middle Tennessee in the near future, let me know and we'll arrange a top-to-bottom "Well, Weller, Wellest" Throwdown!)

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I just got my second bottle of WLW SR. My favorite store has been out for a few weeks now but I did get one recently elsewhere.

I also left one more on the shelf now I think I'll go back for it.

It is to easy to drink, such a sweetheart of a wheater.

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As has been often posted here, Texas has always been the biggest market for Wellers of all varieties. Its not uncommon to see Special Reserve as the well bourbon in many bars here. So I have this one quite often when I'm out with the boys. It's always what I order if it's the bar's well bourbon.

Randy

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To me, WSR is everything good about wheated bourbon. If you want to open the mind of someone who thinks Maker's Mark is the only bourbon worth drinking, get them to try Weller Special Reserve. I liked it as SW whiskey, I liked it as Bernheim whiskey and I like it as Buffalo Trace whiskey. Especially for the price, you just can't go wrong. Maybe not life-changing, but a really enjoyable drink.

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I have 3/4 of a bottle of Weller Antique 107, which I love.... curious about the Weller you have as BOTM.... I wanted so bad to go to the liquor store but I just bought two bottles yesterday! curious how this is re: Antique and maybe I can pick up a bottle tomorrow.........

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Yet another selection not available in PA. There's always next month. I will have to be satisfied with my recent purchase of Weller Antique which is quite good. I have no doubt that the special reserve is equally as tasty

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Okay, stopped by a local liquor store today and picked up the current Weller SR -- and couldn't resist buying the 1.75L, since wheaters are my favorite with cola.

So, from left, we have 7yo Bottled In Bond from 1949; UDV 7yo/90 from S-W/Old Fitzgerald; today's 7/90 from Buffalo Trace; and 8yo/BIB from 1950:

[ATTACH]5269[/ATTACH]

Of the two most recent, the Louisville nose is more powerful, though still subtle, while the BT version almost disappears. And, while both display that brown sugar fudge flavor, the older one is more of the 'scorched-in-the-bottom-of-the-pan' variety. Frankfort is sweeter. I'll take either.

Of the oldies, the 7yo has some old-growth oak eucalyptus to it, in both nose and palate, but glides across the tongue like silk. The sweetness remains, whether from the wheat or the wood. The 8yo is, quite simply, heavenly. This has some of the sharp spiciness most attribute to rye and find absent in wheaters, but I find characteristic of some top-quality Stitzel-Weller whiskeys. It is mostly anise/licorice, mostly in the finish, and offers a fine counter-balance to the through-and-through sweetness.

Interesting that Pappy marketed two 8yo BIBs -- this Weller and the Very Old Fitzgerald -- during the same time frame. I don't find the taste profile markedly different; could they have been for different markets?

[ATTACH]5270[/ATTACH]

Anyway, my bourbon journey has progressed considerably since I first discovered a fondness for Weller Special Reserve, without having progressed a step beyond that fondness. I could still enjoy this whiskey exclusive of all others, should it be the only one available to me.

Cheers.:toast:

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Well I bit the bullet and went out to get the Weller Special Reserve. Here in Knoxville it cost me fifteen bucks including tax for the bottle. The big one was 30 including tax at a different store. I am getting a collection of bottles now, so got the 750.. due to space...

This bourbon is very good! I saw Tim's recommendation and almost got the big one too! but I hope they just don't run out of this ..... I had to go to three liquor stores before I could get it here...... I really like it and the price is right.

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Beginning impressions: Purchased the bottle of W.L. Weller Special Reserve for $12.99 at Harvest Town in Knoxville, Tennessee. A real decent price for any bourbon. It has a similiar bottle to Old Weller Antique and 10 Year old Rip Van Winkle except the label is fresh and modern looking, not antique like the two mentioned. The color is a beautiful light amber, almost golden color, which is very pleasant.

Neat: Poured in a glass, This Weller has decent legs. It fills the nostrills with the mellow sweet smell of corn, and wheat(this is a wheater).You can also detect the smell of vanilla, and, to me, the smell of freshly sawed lumber. And then the strong smell of alcohol, and for me a least, very stong for a 90 proof sip. Then comes the drink. After this Weller hits the mouth, the surprising thing to me is that the stong smell of alcohol diasppears as it crosses the tongue. The taste of corn becomes stronger than the nose, as well as the sweetness of wheat. The taste then mellows from corn, to vanilla,carmel, and pecans. It has a nice finish , maybe a little short, but respectable and lacking the comlexity of the older bourbons (such as Pappy and Hirsch). Still a very, and I mean very good drink from a $12.99 bottle of bourbon. Overall, I am very impressed. Recommend this bourbon neat.

With water: Strangely, with water, the taste of corn, wheat, and vanilla subside while the string taste of alcohol comes to the forefront. How can the taste of alcohol increase when it has been cut by water? Some of you experts will have to explain that to me. The aftertaste too seems to be overridden with the taste of alcohol. Overall, Neat is better, and not recommended with water.

With Ice: The addition of ice weakens the taste of alcohol and prolongs the taste of corn that is overcome by vanilla and pecans, maybe more so than even neat. To me, the finish is lengthened by the addition of the ice, with the mellow corn, vanilla, and pecans blending for a good taste. It still lacks the character of the older wheat bourbons, but is very satisfying none the less. I would recommend Weller Reserve and Ice.

With Coke: Wow! A very good bourbon to mix with Coke and at the price is unbeatable. I will be keeping this on hand as an addition for my friends who prefer bourbon and Coke. Heck, I even like Bourbon and Coke and will use it and order it at bars who offer it as a mixer for Coke. Recommend.

Conclusion: This is a great value bourbon. I would say that it is a very good bourbon even when you take away the price consideration. Thank you BOTM for introducing me to this drink. I would recommend this bourbon to you.

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Dramiel McHinson

Glad to see the W.L.Weller SR win a BOTM. I have enjoyed the SR for some time now. I drink it neat and find the lighter sweeter taste of the wheated whiskey to my liking on those days when light is just right.

What can you say about a whiskey that tastes great and, in todays market of grossly overi-inflated prices, a real bargain. My experience with the SR led me to purchase the 10 year old Centennial from the Bourbon Heritage collection as well as the Antique 107.

I plan to buy as many different versions of W.L. Weller as I can find. Well...cause it taste great and I can afford this one.

Cheers!

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I really enjoy the weller antique 107. Have to pick up some of the special reserve. Has anyone done a side by side tasting on these 2 ?

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Special Reserve

Weller Special Reserve is a great value bourbon. I always recommend it to novices.

I've done taste comparisons between Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique and they have a very similar taste profile with the Special Reserve having about 15% less alcohol.

I'm enjoying a splash of Special Reserve right on.

Will

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As coincidence would have it, I had one bottle of WSR that I had not opened nor tried to date. I played poker the other night and brought along my unopened bottle of WSR. I've always enjoyed the Weller brand and this one did not dissapoint. VA does not carry Weller products so now I'll have to figure out where it's carried in MD or D.C.

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This bourbon is in the best dollar value club right with it's heavier brother antique 107. I use this bourbon when starting the progression for tasting of fine bourbon to introduce friends and usually end with some of it's relatives of the Pappy VanWinkle family. A great pour everyone should have at least one bottle on hand. nose of butterscotch and carmel to start with a smooth mellow finish.

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As luck would have it I am in the middle of a bottle this month. Being the newbie that I am it's part of my "getting to know bourbon" progression and I feel awfully lucky that it also turns out to be my first BOTM. Such a deal.

I started this bottle after having WR and BT. At first it almost seemed too smooth, but after enjoying alone and not comparing it directly to the BT it stands on its own quite well. The nose is incredible, it is as sweet and smooth as promised and up here in Michigan it's only $17 plus tax.

One newbie question though. The label says "Distilled by W.L. Weller and Sons, Frankfort Kentucky". It's my understanding that this is a BT product and on the "Brands" database on this forum it is listed as a BT product. So is the labeling correct? A throwback? Deceiving?

-Tim

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While there are arguments to be made against the practice, American whiskey distilleries have always used dba (doing-business-as) or assumed business name labeling. At one time, they even went so far as to legally change the name of the distillery temporarily, even hanging out a "shingle" with the assumed name on it when the assumed-name product was being distilled.

W. L. Weller and Sons is a venerable old name with a long history but today it is an assumed business name of Buffalo Trace. However, Buffalo Trace is completely transparent about that fact and the above information is easy to find.

What I would like to see is for producers to keep using the assumed business names, because of their historical significance, but put somewhere on the label something like, "a product of Sazerac Inc." or similar. (Sazerac is BT's parent company.)

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Dr. François

I ordered my bottle of Weller SR from the grocery store that is practically "on campus." I hope I get my bottle before we choose a new BOTM.

My last bottle of Weller SR disappeared in a single night of hanging out with my siblings, playing Nintendo Wii, eating Chinese food, and drinking whiskey. I can't think of a better combo.

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This could very well be my lack of bourbon experience, but I wasn't terribly impressed with Weller SR. It's not that there's anything wrong with it, really, but there doesn't seem to be much there. The flavor is very light, almost timid. The most disappointing part is the finish. It almost seems to me as if the finish ends before I swallow. One moment its there, the next its simply a memory. I guess I want heavier flavors from my bourbon experience.

I certainly wouldn't turn this down, but I don't know if I'd buy another bottle. I'd rather save my few pennies for something with more character. Is this lightness typical of the wheaters? I've never had any others of that genre.

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As coincidence would have it, I had one bottle of WSR that I had not opened nor tried to date. I played poker the other night and brought along my unopened bottle of WSR. I've always enjoyed the Weller brand and this one did not dissapoint. VA does not carry Weller products so now I'll have to figure out where it's carried in MD or D.C.

Greg, I have had the ABC folks here in VA special order Weller for me.. just got 4 bottles of Antique. The fellow who runs the VA ABC in Clifton (Newgate) is a real bourbon nut and will work to get you what you want. I and a few friends are always up to split a case if that is what has to be ordered...

FYI... the ABC next to the Safeway in Burke had a few bottles of Antique in the back.... he always seems to have some on hand for the regulars....

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Others have mentioned differences between Bernheim distillate and BT distillate.

One thing to which I'm really looking forward is that in just over a year we should be seeing the first juice coming online that was made after the BT/VW agreement of Spring 2002. I believe Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique, both at 7 years, are the youngest wheated products to come out of the BT distillery.

Julian Van Winkle had talked about some distillation tweaks he had discussed with BT for his juice - I wonder if those talks did indeed produce any changes for the VW lines, and if we'll see any difference in the Weller lines as well.

Roger

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Julian Van Winkle had talked about some distillation tweaks he had discussed with BT for his juice - I wonder if those talks did indeed produce any changes for the VW lines, and if we'll see any difference in the Weller lines as well.

Roger

If any of the two are different than I would say (and hope) that it would be the Weller.

I ain't knocking Weller, I just don't want the Pappy to change.

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...I just don't want the Pappy to change.

This is starting to get far afield from the Weller SR, but Pappy has never been the same thing for a long period of time: Pappy 20 and 23 have both been sold as wheated and rye bourbons . Pappy 15 was, we're told, all SW until last year and now presumably is hand selected from BT stocks . Pappy 15's predecessor of just a few years ago, ORVW 15 was, Julian swears, from similar stock as the first Pappy 15 , but members on this forum swear they can taste a difference, possibly based on slight age differences and the lesser flexibility possible with the small vattings for each run.

The way I see it, the Pappy products are now and always have been a moving target - except of course, they've always been damn good whiskey.

And back to my original hope, that any changes for the VW lines that Julian may have asked for will improve the Weller lines as well.

Roger

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