Another suggestion from the folks at LeNell’s. Old Weller is the classic wheated bourbon and comes from the stills at the Buffalo Trace distillery, whose product I’ve liked before. I was told this would have a kick to it and a reasonable depth of flavor, along with the sweetness that comes with the wheat.
Old Weller Antique suffers from the all-too-common conception that bourbon, especially aged bourbon, needs to market itself as the product of the mid 19th century. The faux-stained-parchment label, old-timey script, and wood-pattern upper label are all surefire signs of lazy design – if not total positioning strategy. The appearance does not manage the charming awkwardness of Old Grand-Dad, nor does it attempt the craft-distiller look of Willett’s.
The elements of the presentation that I do enjoy are their measurement of age in summers on the label, and the shape of the bottle itself. The bottle manages to be distinct and un-showy at the same time and eschews the increasingly common wooden-doorknob style cork for the unpretentious plastic screw-top.
Though Old Weller Antique is a hefty 107 proof, you couldn’t tell by its aroma. Where some bourbons come out punching, sopping in alcohol, OWA is more subtle to the nose. The aroma is constructed mostly of dried hay, oak, and warm, wet asphalt. There’s also a slow sweetness to the whole thing that is not overly apparent.
OWA’s wheat pops up when it first hits the tongue, but doesn’t last too much longer. The wheat-sweet is immediately overwhelmed by a dominant spiciness that defines the drink. The spice lasts quite some time, but slowly fades into a nutty finish. Amid the spice though, you can sense its time in the wood and a bit of fruit hidden away.
Despite the lazy presentation, Old Weller Antique is actually quite a good drink. I must admit to not liking it all that much after the first sip, but the lingering of the nutty spice and the flavors that reveal themselves as you spend more time with the drink are really quite nice.
This is definitely a bourbon to spend some time with.