Review: 2012 William Larue Weller

As the Tennessee Vols continue their pathetic search for a football coach, I am left scouring the house for the highest proof stuff I can find. I only slightly kid about that. In all seriousness, my week of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) reviews continues on with William Larue Weller – the only wheater in the bunch. This is the part where I’d like to tell you, “hey, if you want to find Pappy 15 but can’t – give this one a go!” Well it turns out Weller, much like Stagg in the BTAC collection, is just as tough to find. Regardless, here are my thoughts on what is typically one of the better bourbons of the year.

2012 William Larue Weller Bourbon, 61.7% abv (123.4 Proof), $80/bottle
Color: Deep Amber
Nose: Dried fruits (dates, raisins), macerated berries, cherry licorice, toffee, and brown sugar.
Palate: Toffee, caramelized nuts, chocolate caramels, clove and cinnamon, fading into bitter black coffee.
Finish: Toasted oak, vanilla, clove, and fruity sweetness.
Overall: As usual this one is an exemplary whiskey. The 2011 was darker, richer, and more complex, but the 2012 is easier sipping with a touch less zip and spice. Such a decadent pour, like dessert in a glass.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.3 (Superb/Outstanding)


  1. Todd says:

    Looking forward in trying this Jason… Was fortunate enough to find a few bottles around the area.

    Any upcoming 2012 Pappy reviews on the horizon?

    Go Vols

  2. Josh says:

    Jason, would you compare WLW to Pappy 15? Or 2 different animals?

  3. Tommy Viola says:

    Jason, I’m wondering how you reviewed this: neat or with a bit of water? And how would you recommend it? – Tom.

  4. Andrew Jones says:

    I enjoy the Weller line as an alternative to the Van Winkles. Some of the older bottles of the Weller 12 year I’ve found are excellent (5-10 years old, before the rounded bottle, the more cylindrical bottle). To me the Weller bourbons have stronger, more dominant flavors while the Van Winkles offer more complexity and subtle flavors. Since I’m savoring my Van Winkles, I find myself going back to the Weller 12 year and the Weller Antique frequently and the William Larue Weller occasionally. I also think the older bottles of Weller 12 year have a few similar tasting notes to George T Stagg.

  5. Will says:

    Decadent is right. This is a rich bourbon that I enjoy with a touch of water. And pick up Weller 12 when you get a chance, that whiskey is one of the less-expensive greats right now.

  6. Matt says:

    My buddy and I got so lucky with Pappys and BTAC on Wednesday it’s not even funny. Still shocked. Got two bottles of WLW, cracked the first one last night. I can’t believe it. It’s so thick and viscous and warm. It’s like warm cherry dessert without the tartness that you get with real cherries. Drinks amazingly well neat for such a high proof. Can’t believe how smooth it is. My first experience with WLW and I am pretty amazed by it.

  7. TerryK says:

    Thanks for the great review on WLW 2012. I’m hopeful we will eventually see some of it in here in So Cal.

    Cheer up about your UT Vols. No matter how tough your search, at least you no longer have that coaching genius, Lane Kiffin, on your payroll. Many thanks for foisting him off on my school, the USC Trojans!

  8. Greg says:

    Jason – I broke down and picked up a bottle of the 2012 WLW release. This was more of a curiosity buy since I have not purchased any BTAC since 2009 and the price was right at $62. Not sure if I’ll open it right away but your review intrigues me.

  9. Greg, let me know what you think. Excellent pour. A shade softer than 2011, but the bones are the same. Great stuff. Cheers to you.

  10. Terry – I think you are right man. Glass half full – no Lane Kiffin!

  11. Tommy, I review most all whiskeys neat and uncut first. If I’m having trouble picking out notes, I let it sit for a bit an open up. I will add water to determine some aromas and flavors, but not a lot. I don’t add much water at all. For me the issue is if I add a bunch of water and rate something based off that, it’s difficult to tell a reader how much to add.

  12. Josh – it compares very favorably to Pappy 15. Pappy is richer, more complex, and the flavors are packed in tight layers. Pappy 15 gets the nod.

  13. Texas says:

    Although I really liked the 2009 and 2010 WLW I had, I like many, have chosen to jump off the PVW/BTAC merry go-round. I love Weller 12, and I can get it everyday for $22 a bottle. I am also sure as I am sitting here that Buffalo Trace will discontinue Weller 12 within the next year or two. Stock up, boys.

  14. Freddy Ray says:

    Screw bananas foster, I’ll take this for dessert any day. I think your reviews are generally spot-on, Jason, and while I don’t always agree, I respect what you put into them. That’s why your 93 on the 2012 WLW has me a little baffled. That’s a great rating, undoubtedly. But with its depth, richness, and elegant, balanced power (geez, I sound like a frickin commercial) I just can’t see this Weller on equal footing with two of your other past 93s: Rittenhouse Rye 100 and EWSB 2000. Those two are fantastic, no doubt, and two of my favorites btw, but in fairness, isn’t the 2012 WLW at least a notch or two better? Maybe I’m just missing something, besides the 50 extra bucks. 😉 Looking forward to the rest of your 2012 BTAC reviews.

  15. James says:

    I just may have to venture out and grab a bottle, if it’s still on the shelf.

  16. Chad says:

    I totally agree with Freddy Ray on this one. Jason, your reviews are always spot-on, but this year’s BTAC Weller has my vote for bourbon of the year. It is as close to perfection (for my palette) as a bourbon can get. It’s a 99 all the way. 🙂

  17. Ford says:

    Still on the shelf? These never make it to the shelf in Northern California! Out of the shipping box and behind the counter to be picked up by those on the list. Actually, I did find George T. Stagg at Bevmo once, but that was a fluke. Happy Holidays!

  18. James says:

    Ford, if you were in Nashville I could take you to a store that has WLW and Stagg on the shelf. I bought a bottle of Lot B last summer at a store in downtown Nashville. It’s amazing what you can find sometimes. I’ve got unopened bottles of both at home, so I spend my money on other bottles for now.

  19. Aaron says:

    To Freddy Ray’s point: I’m not speaking for Jason, but I generally interpret his ratings to be inclusive of quality, value, availability, and even a tiny bit of sentiment. All things being equal, I think anyone would choose WLW over RittBIB. Maybe it’s subconscious, but most reviewers have a soft spot for the underdog. But for what his ratings lack in “purity” they gain in practicality since there are more factors woven into the score.

  20. Ray O says:

    Well put, Aaron!

  21. Andrew says:

    @Aaron — as Jason has stated previous, he only rates what is in the bottle. He will comment about value, however, it has no factor in the overall rating. Check is Rating System post, especially his comments at the bottom:

  22. Aaron says:

    Hey Andrew. I’m aware of Jason’s system. But I was “interpreting” his reviews as they read, and not taking his stated philosophy at face value. Let’s be honest, the desirability of whiskey is complex and subjective. I personally enjoy the fact that this site offers “one man’s opinion” as it were, which inevitably includes his personal preferences and values. That, as opposed to trying to pass definitive judgement on the worthiness of a given whiskey.

    Back to my comment about underdogs, I do think that value is rewarded by various reviewers. For example, John at whiskyadvocate gives Redbreast 12 a 96 – right up there with the big dogs. Of course, he writes “Classic Irish whiskey! (Value Pick)” presumably as an explanation for the high rating.

    Maybe I’m wrong about all of this, but it makes for good discussion!

  23. Jim Walters says:

    This whiskey scored big in reviews, slightly bigger than here. Jim Murray rated it as the #2 whiskey in the 2012 edition of his Whisky Bible. Whisky Advocate ranked it as the #3 whiskey of this year, and Whiskey Reviewer gave it an A+.

  24. Anon says:

    Jim W: I believe the ratings that Murray gave were for the 2011 bottlings. The proofs mentioned in the reviews synced up with the 2011 releases, and I recall reading that hte BTAC comes out too late in the year to make it eligible for the next year’s bible (2012 BTAC came out too late to be part of the 2013 Bible)


    World Whisky of the Year: Thomas H Handy Sazerac 2011, 128.6 proof

    Second Finest Whisky in the World: William Larue Weller 2011, 133.5 proof

  25. sam k says:

    Yeah, and Murray also insists to the reader that these barrel proofers be consumed with no dilution. That’s fine for some (most?) of us, but can you imagine an uninitiated whiskey drinker reading that book, wanting to try “the best,” and taking that advice as gospel?

    I can’t imagine a better way to make someone never want another sip of whiskey again.

  26. Jim Walters says:

    Sam K – I don’t know about that. There are some 60-percenters I think are just fine neat. Once you get above 65 or 70 percent, though, I completely agree. Too strong to drink neat — the alcohol is so strong, you can almost run your car off it, and it starts smothering everything else, no matter how smooth.

  27. Jim Walters says:

    P.S. Pardon my confusion. I meant the Weller 2012 bagged top honors for the 2013 Whisky Bible!

    I was wrong not about the status, but about which edition it appeared in. Stupid of me really — The Whiskey Reviewer has it right there in the first two or three lines!

  28. HP12 says:

    Merry Christmas Jason. Now, where’s that 2012 GTS review? I anxiously await!

    Wishing you and yours and Happy and Healthy 2013!

  29. Brian Studer says:

    I picked up a bottle of Stagg just sitting on the shelf next to a bottle of WLW a couple months back. I had a bottle of THH on hold at the store and went ahead and bought the Stagg and the THH. I stopped by another liquor store last week and they had 5 bottles of THH. I love my THH but I doubt I will ever come across another bottle of WLW. DANG!

  30. Paul says:

    I love this stuff but can’t get it anymore. What else compares to it that is obtainable?

  31. Matt L. says:

    Having this again tonight. Dang it’s good.