Weller Antique (Store Pick) vs. Weller Single Barrel
Today we’ve got a real treat: two expressions from Buffalo Trace’s wheated mashbill, in single barrel format, pitted against each other to see how the new Weller Single Barrel stacks up against a single barrel selection of Weller Antique. Let’s go!
I’m excited to make comparisons between products because it not only highlights the characteristics of each whiskey, but it also affords me a chance to dig a bit deeper into the essence of each expression to suss out the notes I really love (see my ten bottle review comparison of Willett for more). I feel like I learn as much about my palate as I do about the whiskey when I make these comparisons, and today’s lineup should be a good one. Per usual, I like to do a little background check on the whiskey and provide some information for you, the reader, so you can see what the brand has to say about the product before I start rambling on about what I think. Here is what the Buffalo Trace Distillery’s website says about the newest offering in the Weller lineup:
William Larue Weller, born in 1825, spent most of his life educating the public on his first-of-its-kind bourbon recipe using wheat in the mash bill. Weller’s gentle, mild and smooth sipping experience changed whiskey as we know it. Handpicked and bottled one exceptional barrel at a time, this special release is bourbon to be savored. Delivering nuanced variations from the ageing process. For the refined bourbon palate, no two barrels are quite the same. Expect distinct, full-bodied flavor in the celebrated tradition of Weller’s wheated bourbon.
Putting these to products in the ring against one another may offer a slight imbalance. While they are both single barrel offerings, the Weller Antique is offered at 107 proof, whereas the Weller Single Barrel is 97 proof. Will ten proof points make a difference in the end results? Let’s have a few pours and find out.
Weller Single Barrel vs. Weller Antique (Store Pick)
Weller Single Barrel
Nose – Big rush of sweet cherry and apple pie. There’s caramel, brown sugar, syrup, fruit and all types of dessert going on here.
Taste – Sweet and luscious. Man, maybe just a mild background of cocoa in here, but this is totally a sweet tooth fix. Pure dessert–but not in a sickly sweet way somehow. It’s complex and heavy and hangs on the palate without being cloyingly sweet or overbearing. Reminds me of standing in front of a bakery case looking at cherry and apple danishes with that glaze on the pastry and icing drizzled over top.
Finish – I’d call it medium, albeit the longer side of medium. This pour has zero ethanol, and I’m not sure if that’s why the finish feels a bit shorter than I expected–but the flavors just hang on for a good while.
Nose – Bright sour cherry and vanilla buttercream. There’s a nice hint of spice here that’s mingling with oak. There’s a noticeable amount of ethanol.
Taste – Warm spice cake with a cherry background. Vanilla comes through again in an aromatic way that isn’t as sweet. A quality oak structure and ‘Kentucky Hug’ bring this thing together nicely.
Finish – Long and slightly drying. Not super complex, but nicely executed. The ethanol carrying the cherry and oaky spice just works. There’s something of a buttery note on the end as well that reminds me of a homemade toffee. Overall this is very nicely balanced.
Weller Battle Winner: …Tie
Well I hate to do this, but I can’t pick a favorite between the two. Now before you get the pitchforks and torches, hear me out: while these are both nice pours on their own, each one falls short in some areas and excels in others. The juxtaposition between the two is what is giving me pause. The more rounded profile of the Weller Antique 107 delivers a more balanced finish and carries itself very nicely. The Weller Single Barrel is ten proof points lower, and that lack of ethanol shows in both the nose and the finish. The multitude of sweet dessert-like layers in the Single Barrel is something you’ll be hard-pressed to find in another bourbon, however it does end up feeling a little one-dimensional in that it’s rich and sweet without much in the way of oak or spice to round it out.
If I could pull a bit of the nose and finish from the OWA and blend that into the SiB we’d have a knockout on our hands, but I guess this is the nature of single barrel bourbon–while these are both good I don’t believe we have a champion. If these were both on the shelf and I could only buy one, I’d buy whichever one I didn’t have a backup of in the bunker. If I were buying it as a gift, or for a newer bourbon drinker I would go with the Single Barrel as it’s going to come across as very approachable considering there’s no discernible ethanol. There you have it! I hope this was as fun to read as it was to write. These comparisons are among my favorite things to do. By all means let me know what you think in the comments. Cheers!
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!