WL Weller 12 Year
Bourbon Spirits

WL Weller 12 Year


Initial Thoughts

Well, it’s that time of year when everyone is out trying to find Pappy Van Winkle bourbon at every local liquor store. I too have fallen into this crowd. I typically spend my Tuesday nights out driving around hitting up all the different stores. I’m not sure about everywhere else, but here in Nashville, Tuesday is delivery day at the liquor stores. Unfortunately everyone knows this and it makes it even harder to find the Pappy Van Winkle or Buffalo Trace Antique collection. So, how does this apply to the WL Weller 12 Year? Well in more ways than one. 

First off, I have been looking for this WL Weller 12 Year  for quite a while and no one has seemed to have it in stock. So on my current escapades around town I try to talk to shop managers and see if they’ve sold all their allocation of Pappy or the BTAC. That’s how I came across this bottle. One of the sales staff knew quite a bit about bourbon and he said they had a whole case of this stuff in the office. He said he didn’t know if he was allowed to sell it, but he figured it was ok since it wasn’t Pappy. So needless to say when he offered up a bottle, I snagged it. I mean it’s not Pappy, but its still been equally difficult to find this year.

Secondly, another connection to Pappy. It’s all about the name. W.L. Weller was originally produced at the Stitzel-Weller distillery, the same place where Pappy  was originally produced. This factory has since shut down and now Buffalo Trace is the active producer of this bourbon. Trust me, there is a lot more to the story that I have left out. If you’re interested in the entire story check out Chuck Cowdery’s book Bourbon, Straight. It has more info than you could ever remember in there.

Well I think that’s probably enough the background to this bourbon lets get into the actual review!


After looking at a few of these bottles from other Weller offerings, I have to say I’m not too impressed with their packaging. I know it’s not always about the packaging. It’s whats inside that counts. It would appear that packaging doesn’t really matter anyway though. Apparently, the word is out on these Weller bourbons because they already fly off the shelf.

WL Weller 12 Year
WL Weller 12 Year

This bottle is a nice short rounded bottle. The bulk of the bottle is a rounded bulb looking shape. Very similar to the Old Weller Antique 107 bottle. The front label is similar as well. The same looking font is used for the WL Weller which helps keeps the consistency between bottles and within the brand so I understand that. What’s different about the label is the nice solid black label that goes across the bottom. This is where the age statement of 12 years exists!

This WL Weller 12 Year has a beautiful reddish amber coloring to it. It’s not quite as red as the Old Weller Antique. It has definitely picked up darker coloring being in the barrel for 12 years. Inside the glass it has a beautiful glow to it. I definitely love the coloring of this bourbon. Something about it is very striking and I enjoy it. I think that’s enough about how it looks though. Let’s get into the good stuff!

Reviewed Neat


As soon as I opened up this bottle of  WL Weller 12 Year I was hit with the big nose of this bourbon. Instantly I picked up the sweetness that comes from this wheated bourbon. Then I began to get the vanilla and caramel. Two bourbon aromas that are hard to miss.

One thing that I have to say and you’re going to think I’m crazy. I had very strange aroma that I couldn’t pin point but I knew I recognized it. I was finally able to pinpoint it after reading the tasting notes on the Buffalo Trace website. It’s the first aroma listed: Lanolin. Now if you’re like me, when you hear lanolin you instantly think of Mr. Ron Burgundy . Ok maybe not?

Anyway, I know the aroma of lanolin because my mother works for a high end cosmetic company. They have this extreme dry skin formula lotion that is nearly  a paste format rather than a lotion. I’ve tried it on my hands during the winter when they dry out so badly. The main ingredient is lanolin and it has a very distinct aroma. So I knew it as soon as I opened the bottle, but I couldn’t recall it until I read it on the BT site.

WL Weller 12 Year
WL Weller 12 Year

Just to prove my point here is the link to the Extreme Dry Skin therapy lotion and you’ll see the active ingredient of lanolin. So yeah. It’s weird how our senses recall things like that, or in my case don’t recall it, but at least remember what it smells like, kind of.


Ok, hopefully moving away from all the lanolin talk. After I took my first sip I instantly got some spice up front followed by a nice a sweetness on the backend. A lot of bourbons tend to do this which I enjoy. When it’s combined with the recipe’s aroma that’s when it really makes a bourbon unique. I also picked up a nice minty note on the backend. There are some hints of orange and citrus as well. The vanilla notes are there alongside the oak to round everything out. One of the exciting notes that I got was this overall buttery-ness to it. To me this is a very soft palatable bourbon. Much more than the Old Weller Antique I think.


The finish on this WL Weller 12 Year is nice and warm. It’s not hot and spicy and burning all the way down, but it does have a nice soothing warmness to it. The finish is fairly quick, with a nice crisp-ness to it. As I said the heat is there, but it’s not overpowering. It also has a nice savory note that brings you back wanting more.



WL Weller 12 Year: 8/10 

Overall I enjoyed this WL Weller 12 Year. I definitely enjoyed it more than I did the Old Weller Antique initially, but still wasn’t blown away. There was a lot of build up and hype about this bourbon and even though I enjoyed it. To me personally it didn’t quite live up to the hype. It had some great flavors and great qualities. I think it’s a great bourbon for someone looking to get into the bourbon scene. However, after tasting it there are many other bourbons out there for around the same price point that I would gladly accept instead.


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12 thoughts on “WL Weller 12 Year

  1. Matt T

    Looking to get my hands on this over the Christmas holiday- PA has decided to not stock the 12 year. I don’t have a lanolin aversion (nor would I be able to associate it) so I might get lucky there.

    1. Eric Scism

      Man that’s a bummer PA isn’t stocking it this year! Haha it was honestly one of the oddest flavor attributions I’ve ever come across.

  2. Ken R.

    I have been trying to find a bottle of this all over the country with no success. I happened to listen to an Alton Brown podcast this week with an interview with Julian Van Winkle and the whole Pappy thing. Alton followed the interview with a blind bourbon tasting with his buddy at his home and the Weller’s 12 came in second with high praise as the power buy at $24.00. But, as mentioned, I have scoured the country the past several days and have come up empty handed. Your review, and not being blown away by it, makes it a little more palatable for me. I think I’ll go pick up a bottle of Angel’s Envy instead, as I read that review! too!
    Cheers, Ken

    1. Eric Scism

      Ken, it was very difficult to find. I was actually searching for BTAC and the salesclerk said he had some of this and I was like, I’ll take it! I can’t believe how difficult it has become to find this. I would highly recommend Angel’s Envy, it’s readily available, and some fantastic juice!

  3. NJGlenn

    Internetwines.com, picked up 4 bottles last week.

    1. MrFortLauderdale

      I’ve got two extra bottles of the Weller 12yr if any of you are interested. Email me kidpoll5(at)aol dot com. The stuff is good.

      1. Eric Scism

        Thanks for the offer! I’m sure others will reach out if they see this in time!

  4. TriMarkC

    I’m into trying lots of bourbons (just as I try lots of cigars), so I’ll look for this one next time I’m looking for a new bottle to try. Thanks!

    1. Eric Scism

      Hopefully you’re able to find a bottle!

  5. den.m bar

    I actually have a 1.75l bottle of this. Hilarious, it’s been sitting around for quite some time in our office, and just recently have discovered the somewhat rarity of weller 12. Anyhow, debating about holding on to it or trading someone for some good Rye or any of the BTAC. Totally get that the BTAC costs more, but this is the 1.75 liter we’re trading for 🙂 Email richard at denmbar (dot) com

    1. Eric Scism

      Haha, some people might be willing to trade for sure! Everyone loves this bourbon and put more of it into a bottle and it’ll drive people crazy!

  6. Dave

    Bought this years batch and now it says “distilled by buffalo trace”
    Dang… I wanted to find the one where it said its distilled by stetzle weller…
    Wonder if there’s a difference in flavor…

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