Saturday, September 25, 2010

Whiskey review: W. L. Weller Special Reserve

This marks the first time I've reviewed a bourbon on this blog. A bourbon is defined by American law as a whiskey produced in the United States from a mash of at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels. And, unlike Scotch whisky, no coloring or flavoring can be added (scotch can have caramel coloring added). There are also some other restrictions that I won't bore you with.

Due to the fact that the bourbon has to be aged in new (i.e. previously unfilled) oak barrels, the bourbon industry supplies a large flux of used barrels to the Scotch whisky industry. A bourbon barrel costs a scotch producer about one tenth what a sherry cask costs - ever wonder why Macallan started aging some of their whisky in bourbon barrels instead of sherry casks? Thank you, economics.

This particular bourbon is wheated, meaning that, in addition to corn, it has a significant amount of wheat in the mash bill. (Most bourbons use rye.) This is supposed to make the bourbon a bit softer than using rye; a more famous wheated bourbon is Maker's Mark.

W. L. Weller Special Reserve, 45% ABV
Bourbon, 7 years old

Appearance: Reddish tan

Nose: Vanilla, very floral, fresh oak, honey, char. Lively but gentlemanly.

Palate: Pear, char, red apple, oak, spices - a great concert of flavors.

Finish: Fairly quick and a little dry.

Rating (of 100): 87. An easy-drinking bourbon that, at less than $20 a bottle, is definitely worth the price.

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