Old Weller Antique Single Barrel Select
Westport Whiskey & Wine Old Weller Antique Single Barrel Select #249 – $45
Mashbill: Buffalo Trace Wheated
Chris Zaborowski and Richard Splan opened their now iconic store and tasting bar in Westport Village back in 2008. With an impressive selection of wines from both major and esoteric growing regions, a wide range of suds from both local and top-rated breweries, and whiskey from multiple countries and most states in the US, they quickly garnered the respect and trust of oenophiles, craft beer aficionados, and whiskey anoraks within Louisville and the surrounding areas. They also boast an expansive array of other spirits, liqueurs, bitters, vermouths, and more. Truly, any fan of imbibing would feel like a kid in a candy store at Westport Whiskey & Wine.
The store also boasts an impressive tasting room, where multiple classes and events are held. When not being utilized for such functions, it is open to buy different pours by the drink, including many highly allocated and sought-after whiskies; at better prices than you are likely to find elsewhere. Months after their release one could be lucky enough to find some Van Winkle or Antique Collection offerings, in addition to older bottlings such as aged stated Presidential Selections from Jefferson’s, past Woodford Master Collections, or similar.
Chris has made his mark in one other big way though, and that is through his exceptional palate. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, he has tasted a varied array of wine and spirits and that experience shows in the single barrel selections of whiskey that he chooses for the store. Having just recently celebrated 9 years of being open, they have had the opportunity to taste through and purchase an untold number of barrels. These picks have gained a following and fanbase, and some sell out in mere hours. One such recent selection was of Buffalo Trace’s famed Old Weller Antique. The Weller line became a cult phenomenon when those jumping on the Pappy Van Winkle band wagon learned it was the same mash-bill. Since then, it has become another allocated item that is hard to find on any retail shelf, never mind a single barrel selection. None the less, Westport was able to secure a barrel, a six-and-a-half-year-old pick they released back in July.
Nosing this bourbon presents you with a pleasant sweetness, carried by subtle notes of corn and an underlying spice that I can’t quite put my finger on; clove perhaps? It is followed up by a candied quality, reminiscent of caramel bordering on burnt sugar. Wafting the top of the glass yields a pleasant vanilla aroma.
The taste reminds you of a homemade cobbler. The sweetness of the wheat is coupled with cinnamon, stone fruit, and cherry. A touch of water opens it up revealing some of the caramel from the nose, butterscotch, and a hint of fig. There isn’t as much spice as other bourbons, which is to be expected due to the absence of rye in the mash.
Soft and round, the mouthfeel body of this bourbon hint at the proof, which is good as the almost nonexistent burn belie the fact that it is 53.5% alcohol by volume. All you’re left with is a warm tingling on your tongue and the back of your throat. The one thing you could possibly say is lacking is the oily viscosity sometimes present in whiskey, most commonly those that are non-chill filtered. This is no fault of Chris’s though, as when this barrel was chosen at the end of 2016 it wasn’t a widely available option.
Overall, this is quite a pleasant bourbon, perfect for sipping multiple pours neat. Those lucky few who made it in before it sold out in a record 90 minutes have quite a treat on their hands. I’m torn between savoring this bottle and enjoying it over the remainder of the year, and killing it off over this weekend. If you couldn’t snag one, ask around for a sample and keep an eye out for future selections from Chris and the rest of the team at Westport Whiskey & Wine, they never disappoint. 4.5/5
* All reviews are subjective and purely express my own opinion. Ratings are independent of one another, just because bottle A has 4/5 doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than bottle B with 3.5/5. Lastly, my ratings are not quantifiable, I am not assigning aroma a certain number of points and mouthfeel another, it’s just my overall thoughts summed up in a number. *