Which whiskies in review provide the greatest service to the whisky-loving reader? The most precious, rare, and expensive ones? The least expensive most affordable ones? The most widespread common releases from each distillery or brand?...or the ones one or two scarcity and price levels up from the most common widespread releases from each distillery or brand? So much depends on the individual's availability of products and the individual's financial means. No doubt the answer depends upon which reader is reading the review. For an audience of novices I would expect that the most widespread and most affordable whiskies would serve best, followed by the next level up of obtainable and affordable. For an audience of financially well-heeled Connoisseurs I expect that the answer would be the most rare, pricey, and well-reviewed whiskies in existence ("the best whiskies") would be the most interesting for which to read reviews. For a mixed novice, intermediate and advanced group like Connosr.com members I suspect that the most common answer would be that the most useful reviews would be those for products fairly commonly available, but one or two steps up the ladder in rarity, individuality, and price. Connosr members usually know Ardbeg 10, Glenmorangie Original, and Buffalo Trace bourbon, but they may not have had the opportunity to have tasted Ardbeg Perpetuum, Glenmorangie Companta, or Stagg Jr
So what to review? I like to review everything in which I take an interest, which pretty much translates to...everything. That said, I understand well that the choice for each whisk(e)y I review changes the size and identity of the audience which will find that particular review interesting and/or useful. There are trade-offs for every choice made. If I review something hard-to-get and of high quality, many will say, "I can't ever get a bottle of that." If I review something off of the bottom shelf, which I love to do, then some will shrug "That is not a connoisseur-quality whisky!" If I review a standard release, some will think, "The Umpteenth Ardbeg Uigeadail review!" (of course every batch of Uigeadail is unique, and worth a separate review...something it takes new whisky lovers a while to understand.) And, finally, if I review something like a $ 100 special release, or a 15-18 yo expression from a well-known distillery, then most will be happy to read the review
The current review is of the 2013 release of William Larue Weller, which is one of the five whiskies in the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. All of the BTAC whiskies are for most people very hard to get, and can be quite expensive, especially on the secondary market. (Wine-searcher.com current world average price for William Larue Weller is $ 994) William Larue Weller is nearly alone at the top of the "most intense wheated bourbon" category. This is my first sample of the 2013 William Larue Weller, and it was provided to me by my friend @Nock. @Nock asked me to review this one in order to see what I thought of it. I have previously reviewed the 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012 releases of William Larue Weller. I also own a bottle of the 2015 release which I have not yet opened. So, choosing this particular whiskey for review allows me to indulge in a new iteration of an old favourite, and also allows me to comply with @Nock's request to give him some feedback about it
2013 William Larue Weller is uncut at 68.1% ABV, unfiltered, and is 12 years, 1 month old
Colour: quite dark. William Larue Weller is one of the darkest whiskies on earth
Nose: intense caramel, wheat, crystalline sugar, and deep-pitched oak. Alcohol is noticeable, but I am not one to be bothered by it. Vanilla is certainly also present along with the caramel and other oaky flavours. I would divide the pitch-levels as approximately 15% high-range, 50% medium range, and 35% bass range. This 2013 release nose is higher in caramel emphasis than perhaps any other William Larue Weller release which I have tasted. So this is probably also the sweetest WLW nose I have experienced. It is nonetheless very beautiful. Water added raises the general pitch and intensifies and slightly lowers the pitch of the crystalline sugar. Great nose with or without water added Score: 23.5/25
Taste: the grand intensity of flavour persists in the mouth. Heavy caramel, heavy oak, heavy wheat. The oak flavours seem more tannic, more edged, and lower in pitch in the mouth than in the nose. I don't like these oak flavours in the mouth of the 2013 Weller as much as I usually like the oak flavours in WLW. This is splitting hairs, though. Most reviewers are not as tannin sensitive as I am. This is still great and impressive wheated bourbon. Water added bundles the flavours, with caramel still dominant. Slightly better with water added, and gets better sitting with water added for 20 minutes. Score: 22.5/25
Finish: very long finish. The tannins weigh more going into the death, so you get a little bit more bitter and sour going into the finish than I like. Much less tannin on the finish if a little water is added. iScore: 22/25
Balance: very good in the nose, good-to very good on the delivery, only adequate on the finish, unless you add water. Score: 21.5/25
Total Sequential Score: 89.5 points
Strength: very strong flavours, everywhere. Score: 24/25
Quality: excellent quality of the grain flavours; very good quality of the wood flavours. Score: 23/25
Variety: lots of variety...like Jim Murray describes WLW, " A three-course meal of a bourbon." Score: 22.5/25
Harmony: as in the balance, above. Score: 21.5/25
Total Non-Sequential Score: 91 points
Comment: OK, @Nock, you probably wanted to know what I thought about this one because you KNEW that it would separate us in matters of taste. I'd be surprised if the bitter and sour tannin in the wood bothered you like you knew it would bother me. This is an excellent bourbon, and intensity buffs and tannin-philes will probably like it a lot more than 90 points worth. 90 points is a high grade, but I like most releases of William Larue Weller more like 95 points worth. @Nock, I am guessing that you like 2013 William Larue Weller 2 points better than I do
The review itself is detailed and excellent.
The first 2 paragraphs could (should?) be the stem of a discussion in and of itself. Have any of us ever asked whether the reviews we write are of interest to anyone else? Do we care?
I write reviews for myself primarily, but also to share my thoughts with others It makes me feel like I'm contributing to a community (which is not to say that others here who contribute in other ways but do not write reviews are somehow lacking).
And for the record, I will happily review ANY BTAC that anyone wants to give me a sample of...
@Ol_Jas, I believe that people are more interested in reading your reviews than you think.
@Nozinan, I do hope that the discussion about review motivations and audiences continues. Just as for you and for @Ol_Jas, the back and forth dialogue is what I value most in participating in this club.