Whisky Connosr
Shop Join

W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

Average score from 9 reviews and 29 ratings 86

W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: W. L. Weller
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 45.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

Shop for this

What next?

  • Add to cabinet
  • Add to wish list
W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

As some of you may know concerning the current state of bourbon in the US, some of these Buffalo Trace offerings have become insanely hard to get and ridiculously inflated in price in the last few years.

Weller 12yo is no exception to this. Often dubbed "Baby Pappy" or "Poor Man's Pappy" since the mash bill is the same, (it just gets less quality barrels and warehouse location apparently) I've seen these things selling for $100+ around the Nashville area and obviously would not pay those prices. Well, a friend was in a small store earlier this year in a rural area of Tennessee, and found 3 sitting on the shelf for $34.99 (retail) and there was no limit so he obviously bought all 3. One was kept for himself, one was given to @thewalkingdad, and one was given to me after I did him a favor of procuring a Belle Meade special release for him. I tried to pay him but he said the favor was enough, so thank you Anthony for being generous and not flipping these for triple what you paid.

Now, I will admit, I was not impressed by either the Weller SR or the Antique 107. This bottle has been opened just under a month. Sample is neat in a Glencairn.

Nose: Very soft nose. Not soft as in flavor, soft as in I can't tell there is much alcohol in this. But the flavor is there in loads! Fruity, with chocolate and oak undertones. Coffee, caramel and orange peel as well. This is the first time I recall getting orange peel in an American whiskey. Really fruity, with apples, raspberry and oranges.

Palate: Silky mouthfeel with loads of sugary fruity flavor. Cotton candy, Sweet Tart candies/Smarties, fruit salad with sugar sprinkled on top, that Hershey's chocolate syrup you put on vanilla ice cream. Dang, despite being only 90 proof this stuff delivers the goods.

Finish: A continuation of the palate, sugary fruit and chocolate linger and leave you needing another sip.

Overall: Ok, now I see what the fuss is about. I didn't see it with the special reserve or the 107, but this stuff is head and shoulders above those. This is legit delicious and too easy to drink. This bottle won't last long. Unfortunately, replacing it will be nigh impossible without shelling out some serious cash or taking a drive to Louisville.

@Victor I’m wondering if I should open two bottles of OWA 107 and do several H2H, several weeks apart....It might make for an interesting experience.

Bottles can vary, for sure, but the odds are that if you bought the bottles together at the same time from the same vendor, they are probably from the same batch, and very similar.

When you are dealing with purchases separated in time the likelihood of differences in the batches become great.


So I came to W.L. Weller, having read a few articles here and there claiming a shared heritage between Van Winkle whiskeys and W.L. Weller releases. The fundamental similarity said to be that both include wheat in the mashbill instead of rye.

Having been introduced to good bourbon via the Van Winkles, my expectations have been set somewhat high, and the lack of availability has led me on a quest to find substitutes.

I have to say that W.L. Weller Aged 12 Years hasn't really disappointed.

This bottle has been open a few months. Maybe 6.

The colour is beautiful in the bottle. It's a reddish, dark orange, dark amber turning tawny, oily looking in the glass and bottle. Beautiful looking bourbon.

Nose is the most alluring thing about this whiskey and I get why there is a comparison to the VWs. I'm not sure if it's the wheat but it has that similar deep sweet vinous/grapey aromatic texture on top of the corn sugars. There's Sauternes dessert wine, light Cognac, lots of muscovado sugar, orange blossom floral, syrupy caramel. There's a long sweet vinous depth of sweetness. It's that sunshine in a bottle again. This is what first stuck me about the VWs. The combination of muscovado sugars with that sweet wine like quality.

Taste isn't quite as alluring, but still good. It's soft, yes there's that vinous quality, but less pronounced than in the aroma, muscovado sugars and caramels, floral, light Cognac. Mouthfeel is oily, like a dessert wine, grapey, some peppery spice on the back of the throat.

Finish is muscovada sugar, that vinous texture and some peppery spice. After a few minutes I'm getting a little bit of the wood. Aged wood.

It's somewhere along the way to a Van Winkle, but not quite there.

I like Weller 12, assuming it has opened up sufficiently. I like Old Weller Antique 107 even more, especially the old label 7 year age statement stuff. And William Larue Weller is sublime.

Taste some Weller 12 and Van Winkle 12 and 15 side by side and you will never assert that they are very close in flavour profile.

Same distillry? Yes. Same mashbill? Yes. Same age? Same or similar. Same proof? Same or similar. But the barrel selection is different. Is the yeast different? I don't know. Could be. But it is probably just the barrel selection.

I've just watched a video online in which Julian van Winkle III says that Weller brands use the same mashbill as Pappy (51% corn, wheat and malted barley - the wheat ages more gracefully and takes on less oak and char). The big difference is that the Pappy casks are hand selected and tasted by Julian VW whereas for Weller they dump all the casks together randomly without tasting and selecting. Bear in mind in 2013 every one of the 100 barrels they tasted for Pappy was selected.


This was only my second wheated bourbon (Rebel Yell was first). Coming from Buffalo Trace distillery, the mash has 75% corn, 20% wheat, 5% malted barley. So the secondary grain used in the mash bill, is wheat instead of rye. This makes makes the bourbon smoother.

W. L Weller 12YO has a good reputation, when it comes to winning prizes. Even though I'm more of a rye guy, I didn't mind the taste of good wheat.

The taste and the feel is very much like flours. With a little touch spices. Like someone had baked a salty pie and used wheat flours. This bourbon is like a Doughboy, not the Pillsbury one, but the character from Boyz N The Hood, played by Ice Cube (since I'm referencing movies).

Nose: Sweet with creamy corn being the major aroma. Vanilla and nuts are on the background. Smooth and a bit too one sided for me.

Taste: Sweet and smooth, like wheat flours. Cereal with oak and some sugary corn, which gives it a waxy honey feel. Addition of water and some air time (and the more you chew it) makes it peppery hot.

Finish: Long length, dry with oak. Hints of sugary notes and some vanilla.

Balance: In balance, nothing seems to be stepping up, except the floury wheat. As I said, I prefer a strong rye more, but this isn't bad either. Many whisky enthusiasts and professionals seem to like this one a lot, so try it if you can.

@cherylnifer, I have never tasted any Weller product which I could remotely have confused with any Van Winkle product. Van Winkle bourbons have a LOT of variation, batch to batch, yet NONE of the batches of Van Winkle I have ever tasted, tasted to me like any of the batches of W.L. Weller bourbon I have ever tasted.

Same distillery or not, for me, anyway, the brands are very distinct from one another.

@cherylnifer...wait a minute, I can think of one exception to what I just said: my bottle of the now no longer produced Old Rip Van Winkle 10 years old, 90 proof, started its life in a very understated way, just like your and my bottles of W.L. Weller 12 yo did. Eventually the Van Winkle 10-90 blossomed and acquired big and delicious flavours rather distinct from the Weller products. During the chrysalis period it was very much like a muted Weller product.


William Larue Weller is perhaps the most well known “wheated” bourbon. I know very little about wheated bourbons, so I was curious to try one. This has only recently become available in Taiwan, and it sells for a reasonable price. Why not?

Nose: Big oak, molasses, orange soda, toffee, maple, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloe, and a strong floral note. Quite flowery, in fact.

Palate: Thick and sweet. Extremely floral arrival with some tartness. Cinnamon, oak, cherrywood, pine resin, aloe, earl grey tea, and milk chocolate.

Finish: A reasonably dynamic, medium finish. It gets slightly creamier here. Orange soda, oak, big cinnamon, nutmeg, and a nougat/nut/chocolate combo. A cool marshmallow note lingers.

Thoughts: My first impression was that this is quite a standard, rather uneventful profile. But it was suggested that I let this one take some air. I did that, and after a few months this opened up. The floral notes “blossomed,” the wood became more vibrant, and I found flavours that simply weren’t there before. This does have a special set of flavours. I particularly like the aloe, marshmallow, and baking spices. Unfortunately, it’s a bit thick for my tastes (there’s a shocker). And despite being interesting, the finish isn’t as intense or as “put-together” as I’d like. But those are my only quibbles. I offered this to several friends, and they all seemed to enjoy it more than I did. It’s quality whiskey, but not my cup of tea.

I had a very similar experience with my one and only bottle of the now-discontinued Van Winkle 10 yo, 90 proof bourbon. I originally reviewed it at 78 points. It was so understated at first as to be negligible in the flavour department.

That Old Rip Van Winkle 10-90 came from the same distillery as W. L. Weller 12 yo, was similar in age, was sold at the same ABV, and had, by most estimates, the same mashbill as Weller bourbon. Was the yeast different? I don't know for sure one way or the other. Some swear they are the same.

The Van Winkle 10-90 blossomed very beautifully, but it also required a lot of air time, like more than a year's air time.

People speculate that for these reasons above there should not be much difference between Van Winkle bourbon and Weller bourbon, but I have never had any Weller bourbon which tasted to me like any Van Winkle bourbon. Could barrel selection by Van Winkle be enough by itself to create the differences between the brands? Possibly, but I greatly doubt it.

(Parenthetical note: the remaining Van Winkle 10-107 bourbon is a very different beast from both the Van Winkle 10-90 and the W. L. Weller 12 yo. Old Rip Van Winkle 10-107 is robustly flavoured from the git-go.)

Time in a bottle, an open bottle.

This particular expression of Weller has slept in a barrel for 12 or more years. Expecting it to be perfect when the cap is snapped is, in my opinion, a very high level of expectation. Satisfaction and gratification are not always instantaneous.

After 12 years in a barrel, waiting a few more weeks, months or years is a small price to pay. The return on invest is definitely worth whatever small cost might be incurred.

My cabinet currently holds 80 open bottles from which I can derive pleasure. There is no 'reboot' switch on a bottle of whisky. Sometimes a bottle sleeps too long and the quality declines; however, most bottles flourish and eventually show greater potential than what is initially predicted upon opening. Tonight I am sipping from a spectacular pour of Redbreast 12 YO, 40%abv. This particular bottle is at 1/3 fill level and has been open for more than 4 years. It is every bit as delicious as the day it was opened, perhaps more so. This Irish beauty drinks much bigger than its modest 40% abv.

There are dozens of open bottles on the shelves of my cabinet which now possess a more desirable taste profile than the day on which they were opened. Whisky stewardship has its rewards.


Usually I go for the cask strenght bourbon with big flavors, but I do enjoy mellow flavors when they are more elegant and refined. The W. L. Weller 12 yo doesn't have the boldness of a Booker for instance or of The Fighting Cock, but it has something far more rare: one of the best nutmeg flavor I have encounter in a whisky, scotches included. It is there on the nose, on the palate, on the finish and, of course, in the empty glass.

Whit it, I got a lot of mint on the nose and some chocolate milk as well as almond oil and cherry. The palate follows the nose to wich you can add some chili, some cinnamon sugar and the smell of croissant dough. The finish is not very long but pleasant and sometime peppery.

This dram will not Wow you. Instead it will charm you leaving you a bit doozing over your second or third glass. Well, you have been warned now!

@rigmorole I have no doubt that you had to work very hard to find any Pappy's. In Canada they are like The Antique Collection of Buffalo Trace: A dram you can only dream of. Like you, I also prefer scotch to bourbon but for the spices and the price, I will go on weeks night to bourbon specially when I am in the mood for a sweet treat. So I feel you're a very lucky guy for having not only one but at least two Pappy's. Good for you!

@cherilnifer Thanks for the inside on the Old Weller 107. I would love to taste that one. By the way, my bottle, after a few weeks, is now developping some Canadian flavors, maple and orange peel. Does the 107 evolved in the same directions?

Just an update. After a few months, the nose and the palate add a lot of floral notes (roses and lavender) that intertwined very well with the wood spices. On the palate you can add an Earl Grey tea of great quality. On the other side, there is no chili or chocolate anymore.


I very much liked the 107 Weller so when I was in the market for something new to try I decided to go with the older expression of W. L. Weller and see if added time in wood would add more depth. However, that's not exactly what I found as I think the 107 is still better than this expression. At first the alcohol was just too harsh on this one and wouldn't dull down. Only after the bottle is about half full does it begin to taste like what I'm going to describe.

Nose: Chocolate, raisin, perfume, candied fruits particularly orange. Big cherry presence here as well as Cola.

Taste: It has a heavy body, it's very thick. Fruits, cinnamon tea, more of the orange candy, red berries, red apples, cherries and cola once again.

F: Oak, cinnamon, bitter wood, creamy.

The finish on this product can be improved. I feel it is it's weak point. It just doesn't last. It's here one second and gone the next. Overall I give it a lower score just by the fact that it requires oxidation and time to improve. From a fresh bottle to oxidized one, I think Weller 107 stays the course while this one deviates off initially and only after oxidation does it return to a more harmonious and flavor inducing profile. The 84 score is for Weller 12 as it stands with half the bottle gone. Initially opened I would be hard pressed to give it about a 79.


W.L.Weller is one of the five large brands of wheated bourbons, and is produced at the Buffalo Trace distillery. The reviewed bottle has been open for 18 months and is 95% full.

Colour: pretty dark, as you'd expect from 12 years in new oak

Body: medium and oily

Nose: great after 18 months, but I don't remember it being anything like this until well oxidised: fragrant and perfumed oak, carnations, vanilla, caramel, wheat grain, even lavender

Taste: I have to say, this is so much better in its second year than its first. It just didn't excite me at all when first opened, but it is very very nice now. This is a great example of bourbons improving with oxidation. The flavours from the nose express well on the palate, and with pretty strong intensity

Finish: stays the course and finishes mellow. All the flavours remain relatively strong and exit together. Good stuff, and much more interesting than I remember it a year ago

Balance: "Older and Less Concentrated" than what? Than Old Weller Antique 107, which is the W.L. Weller product which is its closest competitor. I am a giant fan of Old Weller Antique 107 which is 7 yrs old and 53.5% ABV. Until this most recent sample of Weller 12 yo there would have been no contest whatsover to me, and OWA 107 would be the favourite. It is still my strong pleference of the two, but this sample of the 12 yo has really turned my head. Still, I don't want to wait 18 months for a bottle to develop into what I want out of it to drink. The pick of the litter in this line is William Larue Weller, the Sazerac Antique Collection Barrel Proof Wheated Bourbon. After that I recommend Old Weller Antique 107 extremely highly. This 12 yo is decent too, especially in oxidised form.

My ratings are given of the 18 months oxidised bottle, which would be, for me, about 6-8 pts higher than I would have rated the bottle in its six months

@Jules, William Larue Weller is THE man who invented the wheated bourbon genre, and who invented the wheated bourbon recipes used by all five of the big wheated bourbon brands.

I have a sister who for 40 years said "I hate Scotch". She was drinking the wrong Scotch. She doesn't say that anymore, and she has a Scotch collection now which is about the same size as ours, which is saying something. With bourbon as with Scotch, tastes change with the experience of having tried the better products.

This Weller 12 still tastes very good 4 years after the bottle was opened. The bottle is still 85% full. This would still rate 87 pts for me now, four years open. And to think that I almost gave up on this bottle in the first 6 months!


Well, it's a day after July 4, but today is when my bottle of W.L. Weller 12 came in - so the review comes in a day late...oh well!

W.L. Weller 12 Year Old is a Kentucky wheated bourbon - meaning wheat is used as the secondary grain (behind corn), smoothing out the bourbon and making it softer.

William Larue Weller was a distiller in the 19th century, whose company merged with Stitzel in 1935, creating the Stitzel-Weller distillery (otherwise, I don't know much about them). Today this bourbon is distilled by Buffalo Trace.

The colour is a nice dark amber. On the nose, there is apricot, oak, dark fruits, and deep caramel. Very deep and rich nose, with undertones of freshly baked bread.

In the mouth - a burst of flavour, with an oily mouthfeel, a real zip from the alcohol, and lots of pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Some dried fruits like raisins and apricots (again). Sweet caramel. Soft but also with punch. Water brings out more spice.

The finish is quite long, very dry and oaky. A little chocolaty. This is a deep, rich and very satisfying bourbon, though a little bit dry and oaky. Still, a fitting way to say Happy Independence Day to my neighbours down south!


Let us return to the Buffalo Trace Distillery for this W.L. Weller. It is special because, next to the obligatory 51% corn, the small grains are not rye, but wheat and it also matured for 12 years, which is long to American standards. The bourbon is named after a distiller from the early days of Kentucky, William Larue Weller, who produced this wheated bourbon for the first time in 1849.

Oh, my , this is something else! The nose has corn, of course, but this is complex. Almond oil, toasted oak, honeysuckly, vanilla, wild berries. Burnt sugar, thym, mint. Very aromatic!

It is slightly oily and the wheat gives it a nice, soft attack. Midpalate, the spices speak. Cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg. Some coconut, even. Juicy.

The medium long, slightly drying finish remains sweet and spicy and ends in a note of toasted oak.

This W.L. Weller 12 Year Old won a gold medalle in 2003 at the Wines & Spirits Competition, but unfortunately it is no longer being made. Pity, for this is truly good stuff.

I really enjoyed your review. I would have loved to taste that one! I had a dram of the new WLW yesterday and I found one of the best nutmeg note I ever encountered but I don't think it was as complex and rewarding as the old one if I based my opinion on your review. I hope you'll get a chance to review the new release soon, for me the wood forming the backbone of this whisky is very noble. I think you would enjoy it.

Thanks, @Robert99, I'll be on the lookout for it.

Popular W. L. Weller whiskies