Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat Bourbon


Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company, Inc

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: June 2023

Proof: 94

Age: NAS (Aged nearly 12 years according to company press release)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Honey

MSRP: $500 (2023)

Official Website

Daniel Weller is the latest addition to Buffalo Trace’s Weller lineup. According to the company’s press release, “[It’s] an experimental line exploring the impact of different strains of wheat on its storied bourbons, inspired by and named after the trailblazer of the Weller family.” The release is meant to honor Daniel Weller who is one of the forefathers of American whiskey and grandfather to William Larue Weller.

According to Buffalo Trace, Daniel Weller was a Revolutionary War veteran who traveled down the Ohio river with his family, settling in Kentucky in 1794. Following in his father’s distilling footsteps, he began producing whiskey of his own. When Daniel passed away in 1807, “he left no will, requiring his son Samuel to purchase his stills and equipment to continue the family legacy, which he would ultimately pass down to his son William Larue, founder of W.L. Weller & Sons."

The Daniel Weller line is planned to be experimental, changing different aspects of its creation for each of its biennial releases. The inaugural release is made with Emmer wheat, which according to Buffalo Trace, is an ancient Egyptian grain that’s not common in modern day distilling and is used mainly for beer and breadmaking. It is also made with the company’s E.H. Taylor, Jr. microstill, which is a combination pot and column still that Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley spent two years custom-designing.

Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat Bourbon joins the Weller lineup of Weller Special Reserve, Weller Antique 107, Weller 12 Year Old, Weller Full Proof, Weller C.Y.P.B. (“Craft Your Perfect Bourbon”), and Weller Single Barrel as well as William Larue Weller, which is released each fall as part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.


A potent honey and caramel glazed donut scent begins this bourbon in an agreeable place. Warm baking spice notes are ever-present and slowly build throughout the duration of the nose. Additional scents of toast, Butterfinger candy bar, and a mellow mix of tropical fruits bring extra dimension, resulting in an effective nose with just enough complexity. Where it forgoes a certain amount of pop, it offers an overall balance of scents and intensity that’s hard to fault.


A very well mannered offering of honey, golden raisin, and fresh bread begins the palate in a cordial place. A faint layer of ginger and green tea are also tasted, with light rye spice acting as a solid baseline. This unique pairing of flavors works surprisingly well, though like the nose, it doesn't attempt to overreach in any one direction. As a result, the palate’s sweet and spicy balance is hard to minimize as the sip is aptly dialed in. The greater cost of this though is that the palate lacks immediate impact, which makes it come off much more unassuming than it actually is.


Oak takes hold during the finish, but it's far from what you’re used to. In lieu of a rich, deep oak, it's a noticeably degree lighter, but no less impactful. Leaning a bit more into cedar territory over bold charred oak, its oak content brings with it a nice showcase of its age and overall balance. With salted caramel, rye spice, and sugarcane revealing themselves later, the simplicity of the finish works to its benefit. Despite being nearly 12 years old, the bourbon is surprisingly elegant much so than other low proof bourbons, and nicely dialed in.


It’s always exciting when Buffalo Trace expands their Weller line. Being one of the company’s main outlets for expanding their product portfolio, it's hard to discount their overall quality, though dealing with excessive store price markups tends to leave a proverbial bad taste in bourbon drinkers’ mouths.

Moving beyond the addition of single barrel, full proof, and custom blends to the Weller lineup,  Daniel Weller marks one of Buffalo Trace's more interesting and original expansions in their portfolio (outside their experimental line of course). Maintaining a focus on the popular Weller’s brand of wheat based mashbills makes sense, and taking it a step further by experimenting with unique strains of wheat should prove to be a fascinating process and continually keep interest levels up with every new release.

For its inaugural release, using Emmer wheat grain, which according to Buffalo Trace can be traced back 6,000 years to Egyptian times, is about as unique as it comes - at least on paper. In practice though, the bourbon’s sip mirrors that uniqueness to a calculated degree. There aren't any left-field flavors that will instantly shock someone or turn someone off either. In fact, the bourbon is surprisingly approachable from start to finish. It more has to do with the particular collection of flavors that aren't often found together in one bourbon. Perhaps more so it’s the bourbon’s oak content that is unique in its intensity, though graceful nevertheless. The combination of age, type of wheat, and being distilled using Buffalo Trace’s custom E.H. Taylor, Jr. microstill, results in a bourbon that is instantly familiar, yet so much more than that when you zero in on it.


As we’ve stated time and time again, Buffalo Trace prices their products below market rate. It’s a company philosophy that they continue to employ despite their competition far outpacing them dollar for dollar, especially when it comes to limited releases. That changes with Daniel Weller. Priced at a whopping $500, it is a dramatic increase over their Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottles which were priced at $100 each in 2022. Is this a case of Buffalo Trace finally keeping up with the Joneses, or is the production cost that much greater for Daniel Weller than say, a bottle of William Larue Weller?

It’s obvious that sourcing the amount of Emmer wheat grain needed for this batch of Daniel Weller is probably more than the wheat grain costs for a standard bottle of Weller. With the amount of wheat based bourbons Buffalo Trace distills, (Weller, Pappy Van Winkle, Kosher), the company most likely buys the grain in bulk and produces the bourbon in bulk. While Emmer wheat is uncommon, it isn’t rare by any means, though I can safely assume there is a much higher cost for the grain itself. This is also (for now) a one-off batch of Emmer wheat for the Daniel Weller brand. Add in that this was produced almost 12 years ago and before the bourbon boom took place, making it a very forward-thinking product. Additionally, it was made in very limited batches on the company’s E.H. Taylor, Jr. microstill, which likely required a much more hands on process. All of this warrants a higher price tag, but the question still remains, “How much is too much?”

Given the price point, I get the feeling Buffalo Trace is partially proud of this release. Their experimental releases typically receive little fanfare, both from consumers and from the company itself. With Daniel Weller, we’re getting a limited release, in full size bottles, which are custom designed for this release. It also carries the Weller name, further signifying its importance for the company. Though $500 does seem unusually high for the company and while the whiskey in the bottle is nicely balanced, elegant, and refined, it still comes across as shockingly high. Compared to some of the $500 club, Barrell Bourbon Gold Label, Chicken Cock Chanticleer, Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series, Daniel Weller definitely comes across as the most refined of the group, but also the least flashy. I don’t doubt that most who try Daniel Weller will still take issue with the price and even more who don’t ever try it will have an even bigger problem with the price. Ultra-expensive bourbon isn’t going away, and while Buffalo Trace typically keeps their prices low except for rare occurrences (e.g. Double Double Eagle Rare, O.F.C., John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Bourbon), it is fascinating to finally know what they deem as worthy of the high price tag.

Balanced bourbon with a high degree of refinement is always harder to justify a high cost simply because we’re so used to big flavors (and gimmicks) with limited releases nowadays. Refined bourbon can feel like a lost art and when one comes along (like this year’s Four Roses 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch), it can be hard to fork over that much money for one. That is true with Daniel Weller. It easily commands a higher price tag, but at 5x the cost of a Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottle, that doesn’t quite compute. Perhaps in 10 years when a $500 bottle is the new $250 bottle, we’ll look back and laugh, but as-is, at $500, Daniel Weller is a hard sell.


An skillfully constructed and balanced bourbon that struggles to fully justify its sky-high price tag.

If there's one constant when it comes to experimental whiskeys, it’s that quality can be quite varied. Using an uncommon strain of wheat with little prior reference to build off of can have mixed results. Having tasted a wide range of Weller bourbons over the years, it could be assumed a lot of the unique qualities of Daniel Weller Bourbon are the result of the Emmer wheat in its mashbill and/or a combination of the E.H. Taylor, Jr. microstill. Daniel Weller Bourbon is the most unique tasting of the Weller bourbons and without a doubt the most balanced and most elegant of them as well. But, most people who get the opportunity to taste Daniel Weller, likely won’t come away from a single sip saying “Wow!”

Daniel Weller plays the long game and asks the drinker to get to know it much more than most current bourbons released to the market. Paying a high price often comes with the expectations of being instantly impressed by it, and instantly justifying its cost. It's a debate for another day if that leads to overly flashy high priced bourbons over more refined and elegant ones, but that’s exactly what Daniel Weller offers. It's a bourbon that asks you to spend time with it and drink it slowly, and when you see its price tag, that’s probably a good idea.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Eric Hasman

September 15, 2023
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