Thursday, June 29, 2017

William Larue Weller 2005, 2006, and 2016 Reviews

William Larue Weller, the cask strength wheated bourbon behemoth released as part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. I've covered several vintages before but have been holding on to a couple special samples from the early days of its release and figured now was a good a time as any to review them. For reference, I'm also including my own bottle of the 2016 release for some side by side action. Of note here, 2005 is the first release of William Larue Weller. Prior to that it was just Weller at 19 years old and only 90 proof. The 2006 release is often regarded as something of legend - due to its age and given distillery timelines, there is the belief it is actually stock from Stitzel Weller. Given the jackoffery for Stitzel bourbons you can only imagine the foaming at the mouth for a 15 year old cask strength version. Give my experience with these and how hot / high proof they are I know they are murderers row for your palate so my biggest intrigue here is whether the 2006 stands out above the rest. 

William Larue Weller 2005

Aged 12 years; 60.95% ABV; thanks to /u/02camaroSS for the sample
Nose: Rather muted for 122 proof but has some sugary wheated bourbon sweetness. Smells like lightly wooded caramel cake batter with a little wheat spice zip.
Taste: Rather light and again does not drink at all like 122 proof. It's mostly all wood sweets and fruits, like a honey caramel covered apple. The finish doesn't last long.
Thoughts: This isn't bad but by William Larue Weller standards it is very disappointing. I highly suspect this one has oxidized over the years because it's way thinner and easier to drink than it should be. The wheated bourbon notes are there but all in all it just tastes like Weller 12 with about the same depth and heat. Take this review with a grain of salt because I feel like something is not right here.
Rating: B-

William Larue Weller 2006

Aged 12 years; 64.95% ABV; thanks to /u/ShooterFlatch for proxing this sample
Nose: Wow. So dark and rich - heavy wood influence and heavy sweet tones. I've talked about how some dusties I've tried before have a rich, compacted, condensed flavor profile and this certainly smells that way. On top of all the lush sweet and wood there is dark sugary cherries and prunes. 
Taste: Not quite as shocking as the nose but it's close. Massive wood notes and heavy sweet notes as well as some old dusty bourbon notes. Wood and wheat spice are there in droves from start to finish along with dark booze soaked cherries and cake batter. It's incredibly chewy, almost like eating bourbon. Totally drinkable for the proof, the intense flavor is all there but the heat isn't overpowering. 
Thoughts: I was skeptical this would stand out but I am happy to be wrong. A master class bourbon, among the best I've had. I have no idea if this is Stitzel Weller or not but I don't care - it's certainly the best William Laure Weller I've ever had by a long shot. 
Rating: A

William Larue Weller 2016

Aged 12 years; 67.6% ABV;
Nose: Pretty dense but not as compact as the 2006. The flavor profile is the same as the 2006, wood heavy and sweet heavy with some boozed soaked red/dark fruits. It's a really nice nose, just not as condensed as the 2006.
Taste: Just like the nose and again very similar to the 2006 just not as deep. It's mostly all wood, wheat spice, and sugary cherry cake notes. The spice and heat is a little more out of control though and it feels a bit rougher for the proof though it is the highest ABV here. It has a slightly younger wood vibe than the 2006 but still has a great amount of wood depth. The finish goes on for quite a while with woody dark chocolate cinnamon spice heat.
Thoughts: Really good stuff and though I am usually a Stagg man, I am glad I went with the Weller in 2016 after having tasting them both. Going off memory this is as good as or better than a lot of William Larue Weller vintages.
Rating: A-
Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating. 

Update 7/1: For what it's worth, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection spec sheet states the 2006 William Larue Weller was distilled by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Thanks to @bourbonnooga for pointing that out. There are however comments like this one on that quote Buffalo Trace employees as stating a Stitzel Weller provenance. We'll probably never know for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment