Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Sazerac Company, Inc.
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Age: 12 Years
Weller 12 has had one of the more interesting journeys for a bourbon this decade. Prior to 2014, it was routinely found in plentiful numbers and on the bottom shelf at most liquor stores. It’s a great case study for perception of value. Once found under $20, many people simply overlooked it because of the price, but for those in the know, they always had it on hand. There were never reports of mass hoarding or exorbitant secondary pricing. It was a house bourbon that no one paid that much attention to. That is until you couldn’t find it anymore.
I remember hearing that it was starting to disappear from store shelves in mid 2013 and didn’t think too much of it. I had the expectation that it would come back at some point, probably sooner than later. As 2013 came to a close, I started to get a little worried. I’d spend the better part of a day, typing in “liquor store” into Google Maps and driving to pretty much every single store in my city trying to locate one. At that point it was already too late.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I eventually came across another bottle on the shelf. That was the last time that happened, but I also don’t bother looking for it anymore either. In late 2017 I was offered one from a store owner at its retail price: $30. I of course bought it, but knowing in the back of my head reviews for newer batches say it isn’t what it use to be. Well let’s find out.
Very traditional aromas up front. Heavy oak gives hints that it might be a dry bourbon despite good amounts of vanilla and caramel present. It’s surprisingly not sweet smelling at all. It has average depth at best, but still the nose has decent overall composition. The palate is rather nice thanks to its velvety consistency. Its dry oaky, sweet caramel, and buttercream notes have their moments, but almost cancel each other out in a way. This transitions into an oaky and tannic-like finish that tastes slightly off. The flavor is a bit weak on the finish, but it has a mild spicy aftertaste that is rather enjoyable.
All in, Weller 12 Year (2017) is a bit unrefined, but still has its moments. Its palate is its standout trait, I’d just like to see more of a sweet element injected into it. That is where my 2013 bottle shines. It has the punchy sweetness that adds another dimension to it. Being an open bottle for five years certainly didn’t do the bottle any disservice, but I doubt the same will be able to be said about this 2017 bottle in five years time.
Finally, tasting the 2013, 2015, 2017 in succession, the 2017 bottle was the weakest of the bunch. Again, its lack of overall sweetness and disappointing finish holds it back. Where the 2013 and 2015 bottles could easily warrant a $50+ price tag if released today, the 2017 bottle isn’t quite there. I’m satisfied with it knowing that I spent $30 on it, but I wouldn’t have felt the same way, if I’d spent much over that. It’s a good bourbon, nothing more.