Age: 12 Years Old
This one’s a bit of a heartbreaker. I have been a regular buyer of Weller 12 for about a decade. During that time, a (welcome) guest in my home could expect to be offered either a glass of 12 year-old Weller or a pour of its punchier younger brother, Weller Antique. I liked nearly everything about Weller 12 – its luxuriously sweet, maple syrup-y nose, the way it seemed to coat every surface of my teeth and tongue with vanilla and cherry, and its gentle manner, which made it remarkably pleasant to drink neat. Was it complex? No, not really. But its simplicity never bothered me, especially at $25 a bottle.
In recent years, though, Weller 12 has turned thin, hot, and a little too woody. And this bottle, unfortunately, displays all three of these unwelcome traits. I wouldn’t call it overly oaky, at least not in the manner of a truly old bourbon like Elijah Craig 18, but it does seem as though a lot of the vanilla and cherry flavors I expected to find have been overwhelmed by the sort of dry, tannic sensations I associate with many extra-aged bourbons. Even the addition of a bit of water or ice doesn’t fully eliminate these tendencies. I suppose the clearest way to describe the overall aroma and taste is to say that the sense of rich smoothness that used to define this bourbon is now largely missing. It no longer seems like a luxury product at a mid-shelf price. Instead, it seems defined by its age and the effects of its time in the wood.
That said, Weller 12 is still a must-try, both because of my (admittedly emotional) affinity for the brand and for bottles past, and because if you find it too dry or lifeless, there’s a potentially simple fix. Simply combine it with some Weller Antique and whip up a bourbon that’s a little younger, livelier, and less flat. The members at StraightBourbon, where this solution originated, termed the resulting whiskey the “SB.com blend.” Oh, and when you do buy a bottle of Weller 12, be sure to try it over the course of a few weeks. For whatever reason – and I’m not prepared to exclude witchcraft as an explanation – in my experience Weller 12 improves once a bit of air has a chance to loiter in the bottle.