Bourbon has one of the most famous recipes in the world: the mash must contain at least 51% maize. Beyond that, bourbon distillers frequently finish the grain with rye and malted barley. William Larue Weller took a different approach.
Whereas many other bourbons make use of rye, W.L. Weller makes use of wheat. Weller created this recipe because he believed wheat offered a gentler, sweeter flavor profile than rye, which is often peppery. Though other companies, including Maker’s Mark and Larceny, make wheated bourbons, Weller’s is famous as the pioneer of the technique. Continue reading for ten more facts you should know about W.L. Weller.
W. L. Weller is a wheated bourbon whiskey brand. The brand was previously owned by the Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company, William Larue Weller Bourbon is a wheated bourbon that is currently owned by the Sazerac Company and manufactured in the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It is distilled from a mash of at least 51 percent corn and employs wheat as its secondary grain rather than rye.
A little backstory
The brand is a tribute to William Larue Weller (1825–1899), a pioneering Kentucky bourbon whiskey producer. Some believe that Weller was the first to make straight bourbon with wheat instead of rye in the mash bill, though this claim is not dependable. However, he had to be among the first, as his wheated bourbon was first manufactured in 1849.
Weller is famous for using the slogan “Honest Whiskey at an Honest Price.” After spending his days educating consumers about the differences in his bourbon, his wheated bourbon became so popular that he also stamp each barrel with a green thumbprint to ensure that customers were receiving the genuine article.
Customize your Bourbon
Buffalo Trace debuted its W.L.C. in November 2015. Weller’s Craft Your Perfect Bourbon (C.Y.P.B.) website is an interactive experience that allows people to learn about and make their own perfect bourbon. The process includes selecting a whiskey recipe, placing the bourbon in a warehouse for maturing, determining the number of years to age the bourbon, and determining the ultimate proof for bottling. The service then links imbibers with the optimal Weller expression based on their preferences.
William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a must-try!
Weller bourbons are from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, and has a name after William Larue Weller, a prominent Kentucky whiskey maker. The William Larue release is part of the Weller antique collection and is nearly as difficult to locate as a rare Pappy.
But if you can find it, you’ll be glad you did. Pepper, oak, leather, and caramel corn smells bring this spirit to life on the nose, while the rich palate entry with warming honey notes leads to an explosion of caramel, sautéed almonds, figs, and dates.
Like Grandfather, Like Grandson
William Larue Weller, the company’s founder, and distiller learned the skill from his grandfather. To keep whiskey in the family, William Larue, a.k.a. “W.L.,” and his younger brother Charles Weller established William Larue Weller & Brother, a trading company in Louisville that sold their own bourbon brand. (Charles ended up with the short end of that oak stave.) In 1849, W.L. Weller used wheat instead of rye in the mash bill, which is often seen in bourbon. And there you have it: Weller’s wheated bourbon.
Everyone agrees that it’s special!
W.L. Weller Special Reserve has been lauded by bartenders and spirits professionals, including VinePair senior writer Tim McKirdy, who described it as “lean and fruity, with remarkable depth.” The once-affordable bourbon now costs around $60, but when compared to its contemporaries, it’s a value. In fact, when VinePair asked bartenders from New York to Houston to reveal their favorite bottles, professionals from New York to Houston named Weller Special Reserve is one of their favorites, citing its lower price compared to Pappy Van Winkle, as well as its “smoother and softer finish.” Can’t beat that.
The Great 7
Weller Special Reserve is the brand’s first wheated bourbon and possibly its most recognized expression. Weller 12 Year is another one-of-a-kind offering since it is aged far longer than typical wheated bourbons, making it extremely smooth. Weller’s other expressions include Weller Antique 107, which has a proof of 114 and is distilled without chill filtration, and Weller Full Proof, which has a proof of 114 and is distilled without chill filtration.
William Larue Weller, the brand’s unfiltered, hand-bottled, barrel-proof rendition, is also noteworthy. Finally, Weller Single Barrel will be available on an annual basis beginning in summer 2020.
The same recipe is used to make both W.L. Weller 12 Year and Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year at Buffalo Trace Distillery. The difference lies in the aging of the barrels, which can be extremely subtle, if at all. Nonetheless, despite their nearly identical recipes and flavors, W.L. Weller is simpler to find, and at around $25, it provides a greater bang for your money than Pappy, which costs around $945 through Caskers.
A green thumb
Weller is so passionate to show the quality of his bourbon that he felt compelled to sign each barrel to verify its authenticity. He did it by imprinting a green footprint on barrels to assure that clients got the real deal. He is also famous for coining the phrase “honest whiskey at an honest price.”
Made in America’s oldest Distillery
Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky, manufactures and owns the W.L. Weller trademark, which it purchased in 1999. The Frankfort distillery is America’s oldest continually operational distillery, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2013.
A great legacy
William Larue Weller’s legacy is honored today with award-winning wheated bourbons such as his namesake, Weller 12 Year, Weller Special Reserve, and Weller 107 Antique.
Neutral spirit in the civil war
Although two of the Weller brothers fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, William and Charles remained neutral. Why? Of course, to sell whiskey. Both remained in Louisville and sold whiskey to both the Union and Confederacy.
It’s simply outstanding and one of the best whiskies you’ll ever taste. People who tried it still rave about how amazing it was and how it was hands down the best whiskey they’d ever tried.
There are so many delicious flavors that hit you in waves. It’s highly polished and has the most incredible mouthfeel. It may seem strange to suggest it has a chewy texture because it is obviously a liquid. But it is the best way to describe it, and it is a sensation you can only find in the best bourbons.