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W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

Average score from 11 reviews and 31 ratings 85

W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

Product details

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

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W.L. Weller 12 Year Old

I received a number of mystery samples during a swap with a friend, this was one of them, the first half of the sample was tasted blind without any prior knowledge of what type of whisky I was having, the other half was consumed a day later after the reveal.

I think most of the lore around this whisky has been covered by others more eloquent than I (@odysseusunbound and @casualtorture mosty recently). Like many Buffalo Trace expressions, this has gone from generally available to foaming at the mouth frenzy...

Nose: Plum, brown sugar, well integrated oak, really present woody cinnamon & cloves. There's lots of fresh stone fruits and berries (raspberries even) & cotton candy.The one fault is that I felt it was slightly varnishy before it got some air.

Palate: A bit astringent on entry, grassy, loads of sweet cherry and cherry cough syrup, brown sugar and this persistent licorice root note,medicinal note.

Finish: Thin texture, all on glacee fruits (candied pineapple, cherries, lemons), bitter wood & lemon pith.

Notes: The nose of this bourbon is extraordinary, a true joy, balanced almost cognac like, I could have nosed it forever. Sadly it goes downhill with the palate, it really leans in on these cherry cough syrup vibe, it’s pulled up slightly by the fruits mid palate but the bitter oak dashes any hope of things getting better.

The samples was poured from a bottle 3/4 full but that had been opened for about a year. I know many say this gets better after lots of airtime, if so it’s going to be one heck of a second act when it does. I will likely get flack or raised eyebrows for such a low score but the dissonance between the nose and palate leaves me with little choice, every time I think of the 90 point nose, I think back to the awful bitter yet thin textured palate, I can't give this a higher score in it's current state.

I have a couple of bottles of 107 and I find it more approachable upon opening but it certainly gets better with lots of rest. I would be willing to give the 12 another chance, heck I would likely buy a bottle if I could but as things stand now, doubtful.

@OdysseusUnbound thanks I thought a lot about your repeated comments about this whisky.

I'm only working from a sample, certainly a review from the life cycle of the bottle would be different (or more nuanced). I am curious if earlier releases of this whisky were always plagued with this issue?


WARNING: this review is longer than my typical reviews

The internet is a strange place. Social media is even stranger. Log on to Twitter, say something as innocent as "I like Alaskan Malamute puppies" and within the first ten minutes someone will undoubtedly tell you that you're the worst person who's ever lived and that you should re-think your life.

I've left a few bourbon groups on Facebook for similar reasons. Now most whisky appreciation groups on Facebook are interesting, convivial places where you can find recommendations and information you can't seem to find anywhere else. However bourbon-specific groups seem to draw a different type of enthusiast, or maybe I just haven't found the right ones. In most scotch groups, for example, divergence on taste preferences are treated as just that; individual preferences. In the Facebook bourbon groups I've visited, there's a direct correlation between your bourbon preferences and your value as a human being. I was chastised, derided, and belittled because I had the audacity to state that my particular bottle of Weller 12 Year Old, wasn't very good. It was perfectly clear to these grown men who I didn't know that I'm "just a triggered libtard snowflake". Of course, they were the ones carrying on about it IN ALL CAPS ! but I digress. Odd, very odd.

Luckily the members of Connosr are more sympathetic, insightful, and knowledgeable. I was told by a few people that some batches of Weller 12 were nigh on undrinkable unless they were allowed to "sit" for a year or more. This became a challenge for me, since I'm more of an instant gratification kind of guy. I want my bourbon to be delicious and I want it to be amazing now. But given the choice between pouring my Weller 12 down the drain and waiting it out, the decision was obvious. Wasting bourbon is criminal.

My tasting notes are almost always an aggregate of several tastings, but I don't always include separate notes and dates. I did in this case since I was expecting the bourbon to change.

Tasting Notes (April 2018)

neat from a Glencairn glass

  • Nose: cherries, oak, brown sugar, a bit of old leather and tobacco.
  • Palate: rich mouthfeel, deep cherry notes, a bit of maple syrup, a lovely beginning marred by a somewhat off-putting cough syrup note.
  • Finish: the sharp, discordant medicinal cough syrup note persists and masks what is otherwise a pleasant maple-pecan-oak finish. Good overall, but the cough syrup note is incredibly disappointing and doesn’t seem to go away with time or with water.

I tasted my Weller 12 a few more times in the subsequent months of 2018 and it was always the same, lovely aromas, nice start to the flavour development, and turning unbearably awful and bitter on the finish. It was disappointing but my fellow Connosrs encouraged me to keep my bottle around and promised that the bitter cough syrup note would eventually dissipate.

Initial Score: 70/100 (mostly because of the bitter and off-kilter finish)

Tasting Notes (November 30, 2019)

Neat from a Glencairn glass

  • Nose: subdued, oak, vanilla, cherry, brown sugar, a hint of Juicy Fruit gum
  • Palate: medium bodied, vanilla, oak, slightly tannic, a little maple syrup, a touch of almonds
  • Finish: the cough syrup note is finally gone. Gentle and somewhat drying oakiness, baked apples, pecans, maple syrup, and a hint of the Juicy Fruit gum flavour lingers.

Updated score: 87/100

Tasting Notes (December 27, 2019)

Neat from a Copita glass

  • Nose: cherries, toasted oak, vanilla, ripe peaches, a bit of barrel char
  • Palate: medium body, slightly tannic, cherries, oak, cinnamon
  • Finish: long and warming, but pleasantly dry, baking spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), pecans, a little maple syrup, some cherries hanging around.

Final score: 88/100

I'm glad I waited this one out.

  • Would I order this in a bar? No. Since I have no way of knowing how fresh the bottle is, I wouldn't want to set myself up for disappointment.
  • Would I accept a glass if offered? Yes. If this is from someone else's bottle, it would be worth a go.
  • Would I purchase another bottle? Absolutely. Especially if the price is reasonable. Now that I know that it does improve with time, I wouldn't hesitate.

@Nozinan The blurb states 64.75% but that is from a couple of years ago as I have that one. Typical LCBO using an old inaccurate description. The OFBB shows as 48% ABV (2018) when the 2019 is 105 proof.

@Astroke I rarely win anything in these things, so I "tried" for everything.


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 They were all through the LCBO, but over a period of about 6 months...whenever OWA 107 was available...

@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.


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'd say there's definitely some similarity in the nose, but it's not really there in the taste and palate. The Old Weller Antique I find more complex, but on the palate a little younger and hotter. I shade the 12 over the Antique 107, but most people I know would have that the other way around.


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.

Thanks @Victor! Unfortunately I only had a sample.

I can imagine a whole bottle of Weller 12YO being a good experience. It was interesting to read about the Weller and Pappy Van Winkle connection, more about it in here: whiskyrant.com/w-l-weller-12-year-old-revie…

@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.

@hunggar, good 'several months out' review. "Uneventful" is just about exactly how I found Weller 12 yo for at least a year, maybe more. And I would have rated my bottle about the same as you did, maybe even 2-4 points lower, for the first 6 plus months. If you still have your bottle around look at it closely between 1 and 2 years open. Mine blossomed in a huge way, at about 14-18 months, and has stayed great thereafter.

William Larue Weller was the man who invented wheated bourbon. All five of the big wheated brands derive from his original recipes. W.L. Weller 12 yo is not the same bourbon as is William Larue Weller bourbon, which is the annual barrel strength allocated release from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Mr. Jim Murray very correctly goes ape-shit over William Larue Weller, which is a very high test whiskey indeed. William Larue Weller is usually released at between 64% and 70% abv, and is, as Mr. Murray describes it, "a three course meal of a bourbon". Weller 12 yo is a very very mild variation on the William Larue Weller theme. But it does get to be delicious, and much more strongly flavoured, after a LOT of time.

Wheated bourbon is its own world, which becomes apparent with exposure to a number of them.

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.)


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?

I have a bottle of Weller Antique 107 open in my cabinet now. It's not as good as a Pappy's 12 or 15 but not bad. I've never tasted a Weller 12 or even seen one. Very rare. As for the Pappy's I manage to get my hands on one every few years due to some hard work on my part. Over the past few years, I've given up. I just don't like bourbon as much as scotch and struggling to get a bottle of Pappy's just isn't worth my time.


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.

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