W.L. Weller 7yo Special Reserve (45%, OB, Circa 2007)

Just like the Old Fitzgerald, W.L. Weller is a Wheated Bourbon that used to be made at Stitzel-Weller Distillery.  When that closed down, the Old Fitzgerald brand was sold to Heaven Hill and W.L. Weller was sold to Sazerac, owners of Buffalo Trace. The W.L. Weller 7yo “Special Reserve” is no more. After this one, a similar looking bottle was released, but without the 7yo age statement. Later the look was altered altogether. It’s still called “Special Reserve” and it still lacks an age statement. Other Wellers that are still around are the W.L. Weller “Antique” bottled at 53.5% ABV. and a 12yo, which is bottled at 45% ABV, just like our 7yo. Finally there is a William Larue Weller that is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC), which is bottled annually at barrel strength, something in between 65 and 70% ABV.

W.L. Weller 7yo Special Reserve (45%, OB, Buffalo Trace)Color: Medium orange brown.

Nose: Lots of cream and toffee, very appetizing. Honey, vanilla and wood, nutty and dusty. Again toffee and warm runny caramel. Nice spicy wood in the distance even reminiscent of a dry (salty) meaty aroma, beef jerky or polish kabanosy. Sappy charred oak. Savvy and supple. Sawdust, perfumed caramel and chocolate bonbons. A hint of sweet corn and charred cask, and dare I say it, minute amounts of smoke and ashes, probably from the toasted cask. This smells like it owns it. Very well made, interesting and nice. Love how this smells.

Taste: Sweetish, nutty, fresh and well-balanced. Quite some wood influence as well as paper. Sawdust I would say. Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and lots of vanilla ice-cream with caramel sauce on top. Small hint of dry bitter wood trailed by some, but not much, vanilla sugar sweetness. This works well and gives the Bourbon some backbone. Again, this is a very appetizing Wheated Bourbon. This is a perfect example where all the aroma’s come together nicely, but having said that, this doesn’t seem to be your most complex Wheated Bourbon. It’s very tasty in an almost simple kind of way, but I don’t consider this a daily drinker. It pack a wee bit too much for that and it deserves to be savoured.

Who said that Wheated Bourbons are light and dull? After this one I’m curious if the new “Special Reserve” comes near this one, because this 7yo is quite the winner for me. I like it a lot. I compared it to the Old Fitzgerald 12yo I reviewed earlier, but that one almost seems soapy compared to this one.

Points: 86


Buffalo Trace (45%, OB, Circa 2013)

A new month, and maybe it just is time for something different. Different from Single Malt Whisky that is. More than three years ago, I reviewed a Single Barrel version of Buffalo Trace, selected by Binny’s. A barrel that otherwise would have been used for the standard bottling of Buffalo Trace. Up untill now, I even haven’t tried the standard Buffalo Trace bottling, so here it is, maybe long overdue on these pages, so without further ado, straight from Frankfort, Kentucky, USA, here is Buffalo Trace.

Buffalo Trace 45%Color: Orange Gold.

Nose: Yeasty with lots of honey. Hints of bread and some great fresh and sappy oak. Glue and corn. Toasted cask, sweet and spicy and slightly soapy. Hints of red fruits and dried apricots in white chocolate and a tiny hint of cherry liqueur. Next some dried leaves on the pavement (in November). Glue and soap don’t sound very nice, but I can assure you, it all fits together quite nicely. It smells quite modern and fresh, although some old planks from an old grocery shop are there.

Taste: Sweet and toffee. Creamy vanilla. Yes, toffee and caramel, with some prickling wood spice, soon to be countered by the initial sweetness of the Bourbon. However, this sweetness seems to come and go, switching places with a dry oak sensation. Hints of acidic red fruits, and some light candied oranges. It is quite mellow and much simpler than the nose was. I no way would I have guessed this to be 45% ABV. It seems lower, mellower. In the taste there isn’t a lot of evolution and there isn’t a lengthy finish, but it does leave a nice aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong. This is a nice Bourbon, that is easily drinkable. Definitely a very good entry-level Bourbon.

Here I will compare this Buffalo Trace to the Binny’s Single Barrel version I reviewed earlier. On the nose, The Binny’s version seems to me to have more depth and has an addition of florality to it (Lavender, fresh, not lavender soap). It also has more caramel and smells sweeter. Heavier on the fruit too. It simply has more aroma. Much less virgin oak but it does have some paper in stead. The rest of the nose overlaps with the standard version. In the taste it seems more similar to the standard version. Not a lot of difference in age or “thickness”. Just a little bit more added depth and slightly sweeter. The wood has a tiny hint of pine that is quite nice. The wood itself is less of the virgin type, and more of the old grocery shop plank type. It seems to be mellower and it doesn’t have the attack and the glue of the standard version. In the end, the Binny’s version offers a different take on the standard Buffalo Trace, but the quality is there in both.

Points: 82

Bourbon Week – Day 2: Buffalo Trace (45%, OB, Single Cask for Binny’s, 750 ml)

Day two of the Bourbon week on Master Quill. This time a bottle from Buffalo Trace simply called Buffalo Trace. Again a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey but this time from Frankfort, Kentucky. Buffalo Trace make a lot of different Whiskey’s. Bourbons, Ryes and Wheaters. Also a lot of different brands come from Buffalo Trace, and some are not the worst on the market. Just think of the Staggs and Sazeracs of this world. Wow!

For this review I’ll use and oddity of Buffalo Trace, well it’s definitively and oddity for us Europeans. They already bottle a lot of different whiskies that also taste quite different, lot of different mash bills. Here we have a single barrel version of the regular Buffalo Trace. A single cask picked by Binny’s (from the Chicago Bay Area). So the bottle is the same as the regular one, except for an elliptical golden sticker. Issued in 2010.

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Honey, and a lot of it! Even the waxy part is there, honeyed furniture wax. Hints of toasted oak. Fresh sea air and meaty. Like sitting on the porch of your sea-side cabin, and the smell of  freshly made meatballs float by. Chocolaty and vaguely spicy. Very balanced. Nothing in this overpowers the rest.

Taste: More wood, and again a lot of honey. It tastes just less sweet than honey. It’s not overly complex, but very likeable. It’s not too sweet nor to dry. Texture is thin, even water seems thick. Just don’t confuse this with a thin taste, because that would be unfair. The people from Binny really did choose a nice cask. One that shows us what kind of whisky is (mass) produced for this ‘standard’ bottling, and it shows us what a damn good whiskey they make at Buffalo Trace. Kudos!

Yeah this is not bad, not bad at all. This will be no problem to finish, no problem whatsoever. Before finishing this piece, I already poured it four times. Very good standard bottling! Ok,ok, Single Barrel of a standard bottling. A shame really that I don’t have the standard version at hand…

Points: 82