Back in the saddle after a pretty miserable week – I had the misfortune of breaking a tooth on my way to a gig in upstate Michigan last week, and by last weekend, I had a fever, an inability to open my mouth more than an inch and worst of all, no appetite for food or even bourbon. So I skipped my Bourbon of the Week last week, lest I deliver a less-than review. Also, because consciousness was escaping me at large. A root canal, some hefty antibiotics and the TLC of my wonderful wife and I’m almost back to full strength.
And of course, for all the weeks for me to power down, it had to be Pappy Van Winkle release week. I will post later this week with my thoughts about the great Pappy search, the craziness that is ‘collectors bourbon’ right now (and how disheartening it can be for a true bourbon enthusiast) and how vultures are despicably ruining a great thing, but for now let’s just say that it looks like the PVW release of 2013 has left me high and dry.
So for my return, I go to a time tested and trusted friend. My Bourbon of the Week is Old Weller Antique 107 Proof.
One of the many things I enjoy about bourbon is the amount of variables can influence taste. Aging, where the barrels are stored, the char, the oaks, the blend, the sour mash recipe – so many possible variations. Old Weller Antique 107 adheres to one of the standards that makes the Van Winkle’s so highly touted: it uses wheat instead of rye, and uses the same mash bill. This is why some have referred to the Old Weller as ‘poor man’s pappy.’ And there are certainly some similar qualities there.
My take: The Old Weller Antique 107 is a fine bourbon, with a fantastic price point. The nose is lovely, even from a distance, with thick notes of caramel, as well as some light apple, citrus, vanilla and even a bit of warm toffee.
The taste is thick and leans a bit toward the creamy, with a soft palate. Vanilla, caramel comes with the good kick of that 107 proof. You taste a bit of the earthiness that often comes with wheat. There’s a soft spiciness in the back, but not overwhelming. With a chip of ice, it opens up a little bit more and has a touch more zest.
The finish has a slight burn, but really not what you might expect. It’s a medium-long finish, and quite satisfying. Overall, a solid bourbon indeed!
Dan scale (1-10): 8.0