107 Proof, Buffalo Trace Distillery
It took me a while to wrap my head around wheated bourbons. To my old way of thinking, if it was going to be taken seriously a bourbon should have a hefty dose of rye in it. To give it that spicy punch. To make it burn a little. To put hair on your chest. Replacing wheat for rye in a blend softens the whiskey, and that’s not what we’re going for. At least I thought.
Where rye will usually kick up or amplify a bourbon, wheat in the blend can not only soothe it but make it harmonious. The Old Weller Antique (not to be confused with the Old Weller Special Reserve, it’s little brother) does exactly that without sacrificing the extrovert personality we’re looking for in rye bourbons. Partially that’s because it’s bottled at 107 proof, which gives it enough structure to hang with similarly big rye-based bourbons. So while the Antique is beautifully integrated and complete, it also has balls and a fighting personality that overshadows simpler wheats like Maker’s Mark.
The most distinctive characteristic that I get from the Antique is a soft spearmint and bubble gum essence that blooms first on the nose and then rounds out sweetly in the mouth on the finish. There are also the usual suspects of caramel, butter/toffee, banana and spices to be discovered in the nooks of all that alcohol, and an ethereal red berry note that ties it all together. This is basically my house wheat–if you come over there’s probably a bottle in the cupboard.