Weller Single Barrel Bourbon Is the Season’s Next Great Bottle (If You Can Find It)

single barrel bourbon
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The newest addition to the Weller Kentucky straight bourbon family is as delicious as it is in demand. The new Single Barrel whiskey is hitting shelves in June as a promised annual release whiskey—meaning that, barring interruption, we’ll only be seeing this once a year. And coming out just once a year is going to make finding this whiskey even harder than it already would have been.

While the attention on Weller as a coveted whiskey (its comparisons to Pappy helped with that) has made this bourbon difficult to find in recent years, it has also made owner Buffalo Trace Distillery give the brand some attention, which has led to three new whiskey releases in the last few years.

Weller Single Barrel
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While the first two—a barrel proof variation and a crowd-sourced small batch—were welcome additions, a designated “single barrel” has always been the missing piece of the puzzle. But single barrels within the Weller portfolio have, for the most part, been special store picks or private labels.  So “Weller Single Barrel” as released this month is different in that the picking is being done by those who make the whiskey.

A new bottle of (and any more supply of) Weller is always a welcome bit of news, but there are a few things whiskey fans need to pay attention to with this release. For one, Single Barrel’s proof point of 97 puts it in the lower segment of the single barrel bourbons on the market now. Brands like Old Forester actually raised its single barrel proofs from 90 to 100 earlier this year, as consumers have favored higher proofs in the last decade. Selecting a universal proof point—rather than bottling everything at barrel proof—is not unexpected. And 97 more accurately reflects the sweet spot, which is typically considered to be between 85 and 110.

A nitpick worth consideration, though, is that Weller Single Barrel lacks a barrel ID. Hallowed single barrel bourbons today—everything from Michter’s and McKenna Single Barrel to Buffalo Trace’s own Blanton’s Single Barrel—all share some information about the origin or ID number of the barrel this bourbon came from.

Single barrel bourbons are supposed to be special because, well, each bottle is coming from a slightly different barrel, meaning taste will have modest to moderate variations. Some might be spicier and show more wood influence; some might have come out just a little sweeter.

Consumers expect that variation—it’s a bit of the excitement of buying single barrel whiskey. Our sample’s aromas hinted at cherry, but showed tons of toasted sugar and vanilla custard. On the palate, it was flavor dynamite, showing cinnamon and mocha notes, loads of clove, and a buttery finish that left a surprising amount of sweetness and some black pepper.

While the $50 price tag for this whiskey is an applause-worthy gesture, you’re likely going to see higher numbers in the wild. If you’re lucky enough to find one, a price hike shouldn’t deter you—this is the best thing Buffalo Trace has put out this year.

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