*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!
For more interesting, dare I say titillating info on William Larue Weller, please check out my review of the 2011 Antique Collection release or my review of the W.L. Weller 12 Year Old. The lone representative of the wheated style of bourbon (that generally being a bourbon that uses wheat instead of rye in the mashbill), the 2013 edition of the William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was distilled from “Distiller’s Grade” Kentucky corn, and wheat and malted barley from North Dakota. It was matured for 12 years and 1 month and bottled un-cut and un-filtered at cask strength.
The Nose: Given the high ABV, this has a somewhat mellower nose than I was expecting. Stewed fruits and caramel, plums, prunes, and raisins in rich vanilla rice pudding. Quite a bit of dusty leather and polished oak as well with subtler notes of lightly toasted and lightly buttered wheat bread, and cinnamon-candied almonds. Further in the background are hints of butterscotch cookies, fragrant, dried leaves (it is Fall after all), buttered popcorn and dried cedar. Adding water to this tones down the fruit notes a bit whilst playing up the both the wheat and corn as well as the nuttiness and wood.
The Palate: Surprisingly smooth at strength and initially startling by a complex sweetness, not syrupy or cloying, but almost fruity, intense, and a little zippy. Caramel sauce/dark brown sugar coupled with more roasted, candied pecans, and more wheat toast, only now it’s a quite well toasted. A bit of rich chocolate fudge and vanilla extract make an appearance before a big wave of hot, tannic spice rolls in, cinnamon, sweet clove, and vanilla bean, with a dusting of pepper and dried tobacco leaf. With water, that early sweetness is knocked back, more wheat and a bit of corn oil is revealed, and that wave of spice is calmed a bit, showing more slightly earthier side.
The Finish: Long, dry, and mouthwatering. Hints of that sweetness linger along with more vanilla and dark, fudge-y chocolate. A bit of that tobacco leaf and burnt popcorn trailing off in the distance.
Thoughts: Wow, very impressive stuff. The surprisingly restrained nose is nonetheless complex and oh-so-appealing, showing off both the wheated mashbill and its 12 years in wood. The palate is a bit of barn-burner at strength, racing through the unexpected (but enjoyable) initial sweetness, the nutty, chocolate-y mid-palate, and the billowing spicy finale. I quite enjoyed it at strength, but it is hot stuff, and water helped to make it a little more approachable and brought out more tones that helped to better define its wheater style. Perhaps only slightly less complex than the one earlier edition I’ve had (the 2011), the 2013 continues the trend of being an excellent, almost definitive whisky. Highly recommended.