November 2015: Bourbon
The Texas Wine and Whiskey Club’s first tasting was of an American classic, Bourbon. While we could have done a huge array of bourbons, we decided on the Weller family since Buffalo Trace (who bought Stitzel-Weller) was about to release their select reserves of all the high end stuff, like Pappy van Winkle.
W.L. Weller is one of my favorite bourbons. A wheated bourbon originally made by the famed Stitzell-Weller distillery who makes Pappy van Winkle, it is smooth, high-powered whiskey that I have been enjoying for years. To celebrate Buffalo Trace’s release of their Weller/Pappy’s this month (which sadly we didn’t get any of) we did a Weller tasting of the W.L. Weller Special Reserve, the Old Weller Antique 107, and the W.L. Weller 12 Year.
To top that off, we also tried the delicious Poor Mans Pappy, originally from Bourbonr Blog. Really taking the best from the Old Antique and the 12 Year, Poor Mans Pappy is amazing. You can do either a 50/50 or 60/40 Old Antique/12 years for a higher proof option around 100 proof. Pappy is typically in the high 90’s, but this blend is best left to sit and mellow out for a few weeks before drinking to really blend the flavors together. While the 12 year and Old Antique are similar, they have quite unique flavors and the proof difference causes them to stand apart. But together, the parts seem greater than the whole, and at their price point (~$25), is one of the best daily sipping bourbons I have.
Finally, we had my barrel finished Poor Mans Pappy that I finished in a small barrel for 1-2 months to add an oak, and in this case a rum finished barrel, to the mix. I’ve experimented with new oak (very oaky finish), reused barrels (nice mellow oakiness), rum finished (a slight oaky sweetness), and am finishing my latest one in a previously aged manhattan barrel to see how it can add to the flavor.
Overall, the Poor Mans Pappy was liked the most and the 12 Year and Old Antique were split on likes. I buy these bottles up any chance I can get as they seem to be getting rarer.
Looking forward to this next tasting in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition on December 5th when we do a rye whiskey tasting.
The Old Rip Van Winkle Brand was set out on its own in 1972 after the sale of the Stitzell-Weller distillery. Pappy Van Winkle was originally distilled by the famed Stizell-Weller. Pappy Van Winkle is a wheated bourbon. Meaning they substitute the small portion of rye that is usually added to bourbon for wheat. This give the bourbon a more mellow flavor with the absence of the spice that rye lends to bourbon. In 2002 ORVW connected with Buffalo Trace for a joint venture with the Pappy Van Winkle brand. Buffalo Trace had already purchased W.L. Weller brand in 1999 so the deal made sense.
1: W.L. Weller Special Reserve (90 proof)
The Original Wheated Bourbon Whiskey features an exceptionally smooth taste, substituting wheat for rye grain. Bottled at 90 proof, this bourbon stands out with its burnt orange color. Its softer flavor notes make this bourbon great for sipping or making cocktails.
A sweet nose with a presence of caramel. Tasting notes of honey, butterscotch, and a soft woodiness. It's smooth, delicate and calm. Features a smooth finish with a sweet honeysuckle flair.
2: Old Weller Antique (107 proof)
A wheated bourbon with a full-bodied flavor and a balanced palette. Old Weller Antique is bottled at 107 proof (~7 years), offering a complex taste and bold finish. It’s certainly a recognizable member of the Weller label, with its own unique characteristics to compliment the high proof.
Sweet and unusual floral notes and coupled with vanilla. The taste is very well balanced with sweet fruit notes, strong vanilla undertone and sharp spicy tones, with a cinnamon finish.
3: W.L. Weller 12 Year (90 proof)
As part of the wheated bourbon family, this twelve year old W.L. Weller is aged far longer than most wheated bourbons. This offering is a smooth, easy-going and balanced offering with a beautiful deep bronze color.
Aromas of lanolin, almond, creamed corn and toasty vanilla. The mid-palate flavor is heavily wheated, layered and moderately sweet. Long, oaky, and intensely smooth finish.
4: Poor Man’s Pappy (Blended)
5: Poor Man’s Pappy (Finished)