W.L. Weller Bourbon: Ultimate Review and History Guide

W.L Weller Bourbon

Delve into the world of W.L. Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a brand celebrated for its rich history, innovative spirit, and exceptional bourbon expressions. This detailed guide offers a thorough exploration of each Weller product, from its foundational recipes to the unique characteristics of each bottle. Whether you're a seasoned bourbon enthusiast or a newcomer, this article provides everything you need to understand and appreciate the nuances of W.L. Weller's offerings.

This guide includes:

  • The historical background of W.L. Weller and the evolution of its bourbon recipes
  • A deep dive into the specifics of the wheated bourbon formula and its sensory impact
  • Detailed profiles of each bourbon expression, including new and rare releases
  • Insights into the distillation, aging process, and the artistry behind bourbon crafting
  • Expert tips for collectors and connoisseurs on valuing and preserving Weller bourbons

I. The Heritage of W.L. Weller

A. The Legacy of William Larue Weller

Pioneering the use of wheat instead of rye in the mash bill, William Larue Weller set a new standard in the bourbon industry. His innovative approach in the mid-1800s resulted in a smoother, softer bourbon that has captivated whiskey lovers for generations. Weller's philosophy of quality and craftsmanship continues to influence the production of bourbon to this day.

B. Stitzel-Weller Distillery: A Monument of Bourbon Lore

Opening its doors on Derby Day in 1935, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery became a beacon of premium bourbon production, known for crafting some of the most revered labels in American whiskey history, including W.L. Weller, Pappy Van Winkle, and Old Fitzgerald. Although no longer operational, the distillery's legacy endures through the ongoing production of these historic brands.

II. Mastery of Wheated Bourbon

A. Unveiling the Wheated Bourbon Formula

W.L. Weller's distinctive use of wheat yields a bourbon with a smoother palate, a subtle sweetness, and an alluring complexity. This section explores how wheat influences the flavor profile of bourbon, distinguishing W.L. Weller from its peers and defining its place in the market.

B. From Grain to Barrel: Crafting Weller Bourbon

The production process of W.L. Weller is a testament to tradition and precision. From meticulous grain selection and fermentation to careful distillation and patient aging in new charred oak barrels, every step is designed to maintain the integrity and unique character of the bourbon.

III. The W.L. Weller Bourbon Collection

A. W.L. Weller Special Reserve

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Known as "The Original Wheated Bourbon," W.L. Weller Special Reserve stands out with its soft, smooth characteristics, making it a favorite for both newcomers and seasoned drinkers alike.

Tasting Notes: The nose begins with a clear presence of caramel, leading into sweet tones of honey and butterscotch that blend seamlessly with a subtle woodiness. The experience concludes with a delicate and calming finish, featuring a sweet honeysuckle flair.

B. W.L. Weller Antique 107

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This high-proof expression of W.L. Weller is celebrated for its depth and complexity, offering a bold flavor profile that remains balanced and smooth, typical of the wheated bourbon style.

Tasting Notes: The aroma offers sweet and unusual floral notes alongside a strong vanilla essence. The palate is robust, featuring well-rounded sweet fruit notes with a strong vanilla base, complemented by sharp, spicy tones, culminating in a bold cinnamon finish.

C. W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

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Aged for twelve years, this expression is known for its refined complexity and elegance. It's a testament to the rich flavors that extended aging can impart to wheated bourbon.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of lanolin, almond, and creamed corn open up to a toasty vanilla mid-palate. The flavor is richly wheated, sweet, and layered, concluding with a long, oaky, and intensely smooth finish.

D. W.L. Weller Full Proof

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Bottled at the robust proof of 114, just as it was when it first entered the barrel, W.L. Weller Full Proof honors the original distilling methods of its creator. This non-chill filtered wheated bourbon retains all the natural flavors and oils imparted during distillation and aging, which might give it a cloudy appearance at cold temperatures but ensures a rich and full-bodied taste experience.

Tasting Notes: The aroma opens with a strong presence of vanilla, complemented by dark cherries and caramel. On the palate, there's a harmonious balance of caramel sweetness and toasted oak. The experience concludes with a long finish, where the flavors of crème brûlée and chocolate linger, creating a lasting and luxurious impression.

E. W.L. Weller Single Barrel

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Each barrel selected for this expression is chosen for its unique and exceptional qualities, making every bottle a distinct representation of Weller bourbon.

Tasting Notes: The nose features an enticing blend of cherry and mint, which fades into vanilla. On the palate, caramel sweetness mixes with baking spices and hints of cocoa, finishing with notes of cinnamon, coffee, and a subtle touch of pepper.

F. W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. (Craft Your Perfect Bourbon)

W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. (Craft Your Perfect Bourbon)

This limited-edition release is the result of a crowd-sourced project where bourbon drinkers selected their ideal bourbon recipe online, resulting in this wheated bourbon aged on the highest warehouse floors and bottled at 95 proof.

Tasting Notes: Light and airy on the nose with citrus and oak leading the way. The palate is rounded and balanced, with a smooth medium-long finish that carries hints of vanilla.

G. William Larue Weller Bourbon

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Part of the prestigious Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, this uncut and unfiltered bourbon is one of the most sought-after expressions for its complexity and depth.

Tasting Notes: The nose is rich with fragrant scents of caramel corn, new leather, plums, and light toffee. The palate unfolds with flavors of marshmallow, salted almonds, nougat, figs, and dates. The finish is smooth, composed, and delightfully sweet.

H. Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat Recipe


An innovative addition exploring the effects of different wheat strains, starting with ancient Emmer wheat, this expression pushes the boundaries of traditional bourbon flavors.

Tasting Notes: Fresh and nutty on the nose with distinct orange zest, hazelnut, cinnamon, and caramel. The palate is bold, featuring a rich blend of oak, sweet honey, and orchard fruits, completed by a complex finish of baking spice and leather.

IV. Collecting and Investing in W.L. Weller

Collecting Weller bourbon involves more than acquiring bottles; it's about understanding the intricacies of each expression and their potential value over time. Here are strategies to help you become a savvy collector:

A. Understanding Market Dynamics

When originally released and for decades after, bottles such as the Weller Special Reserve, retailed only for about $20. Having it at that price now means shelves would be cleared in less than an hour in most places in America, and even around the world. It makes sense of course, a bourbon as good as Weller at that price is the real-world definition of a "steal". 

B. Tips for Acquiring Rare Bottles

If you are looking to buy these bottles at retail, many retailers will hold raffles and will also consider loyal customers that regularly purchase good bourbons or whiskies. Let's say that isn't you, luckily, here at The Barrel Tap, we carry Weller year-round hence why we have to keep prices at what they are, while also staying competitive in the marketplace. 

C. Preserving Your Collection

Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the quality and value of your bourbon. Store bottles in a cool, dark place to preserve their condition and prevent deterioration.

D. Investing in Bourbon

Investing in W.L. Weller can be rewarding. Consider the historical appreciation of limited editions and sought-after vintages, and remember that diversification within your collection can mitigate risks. 


W.L. Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey offers a rich tapestry of flavors and stories, making it a cornerstone of American whiskey culture. This guide serves as a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of W.L. Weller and its various expressions. Each sip not only offers a taste of exquisite bourbon but also a piece of American history.