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Buffalo Trace has finally published their official press release for the launch of Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat Bourbon. This is the full transcript word-for-word. I’ll elaborate throughout so make sure to read to the end to pick up all the details. Cheers!
Be sure to check out the previous articles for more great information concerning this release!
Buffalo Trace Distillery is thrilled to announce the launch of Daniel Weller: an experimental line exploring the impact of different strains of wheat on its storied bourbons, inspired by and named after the trailblazer of the Weller family. This exciting release from the original wheated bourbon brand demonstrates Buffalo Trace Distillery’s excellence in innovation while honoring a forefather of American whiskey, Daniel Weller – grandfather to William Larue Weller – and the family distilling traditions he passed down to the generations of whiskey pioneers that followed him.
While William Larue (W.L.) Weller’s place in whiskey history is widely known as one of the first to sell a “wheated” bourbon in Kentucky, his grandfather’s story has yet to be shared. After fighting in The Revolutionary War, Daniel Weller embarked on a flatboat voyage down the Ohio River with his wife and children, ultimately settling in Kentucky in 1794. Following his father Johannes Weller’s footsteps, who distilled rye whiskey used as currency in early American barter economy, he soon began producing whiskey and leased his still to proprietors like Jacob Hirsch to supplement his income.
When Daniel passed away in 1807, he left no will, requiring his son Samuel to purchase his stills and equipment to continue the family legacy, which he would ultimately pass down to his son William Larue, found of W.L. Weller & Sons.
The Daniel Weller experimental line is inspired by Daniel and his pioneering spirit, with plans to release one limited expression every other year, when each experiment is deemed ready for bottling by Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. The inaugural release is made with Emmer wheat, an ancient Egyptian grain that’s rarely seen in modern-day stills, and mainly used to make beer and bread. Archeologists have found evidence of Emmer wheat domestication over 6,000 years ago, and its symbol is etched into the Egyptian pyramids.
“We began this experiment to see how one of the original, long-forgotten wheat strains would taste in our wheated bourbon,” says Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Master Distiller. “we’ve found it offers just a slightly – yet delightfully – different taste that brings us into a new bourbon territory. It will taste like Weller, but with distinct, unique notes that make it stand apart from the other Weller whiskies we’ve released to date.”
Harlen Wheatley gives us a little bit of a double entendre here by saying that it offers a “slightly different taste” from standard Weller but then a few moments later he hammers home how distinct and unique it is. So which one is it? I would’ve just picked one or the other.
The mashbill is not the only variable in this experiment. It was distilled in the E.H. Taylor, Jr. Microstill, named after the father of the modern bourbon industry, which Harlen spent two years custom-designing. A combination pot and column still, the Microstill is both versatile and innovative, allowing the team to experiment with very small batches without interrupting main production capabilities.
For those of you saying that Daniel Weller is just Weller but in a fancy bottle – and have ignored the fact that it uses a different kind of wheat – this is your second glimpse at what makes it different. Normal Weller is made on Buffalo Trace’s giant column stills in massive quantities. Daniel Weller was distilled on this hybrid pot/column still in very small amounts. Regardless of what you’ve heard, there is a pretty drastic difference between whiskies distilled on a pot still and those on a column still. This should present more differences between the two labels – maybe like an oilier mouthfeel.
Aged for nearly 12 years, Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat is bottled at 94 proof. The nose is fresh and nutty, with notes of orange zest, hazelnut, cinnamon and caramel; the palate a well-rounded blend of bold oak, sweet honey and orchard fruits with a complex oak-forward finish complemented by baking spice and leather notes.
Confirmed “nearly 12 years old.” This means that it’s probably not all 12 years old, but it’s darn close. I’ll never understand why distilleries can’t just move barrels to the lower rickhouse tiers to allow them to finish off the maturation year for a nice, round number. Buffalo Trace has a warehouse designed to do just this: Warehouse P which stores barrels at freezing temps so that they technically are matured longer without the fear of over-aging them due to oak-to-liquid interactions in the heat. Why not put an age statement on this while you’re at it?
“At Buffalo Trace Distillery, we are appreciative that many of our brands have found a place in whiskey culture and we continue to invest in making more whiskey to meet the demand. However, our motto is ‘Honor Tradition, Embrace Change’ because we believe the world’s best whiskey has not yet been created,” says Andrew Duncan, Global Brand Director for Buffalo Trace Distillery. “We will continue to experiment with multiple variables that affect the final taste profile – grains, techniques, aging, barrels, and more – in pursuit of that ultimate goal. When an experiment ‘graduates’ to be released under a beloved brand like Weller, it’s a reflection of our confidence in the whiskey.”
In homage to Daniel’s pioneering journey, each release from the Daniel Weller series is packaged in a clear 750ml glass bottle with a unique compass stopper. Once opened, underneath the stopper one will find the coordinates pinpointing the location of Daniel’s farm near Botland, KY.
Get ready, residents of Botland, KY. You’re about to have a lot of nerds trespassing on lawns and fields to find this location, even if nothing remains there.
Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat will be rolling out in limited quantities to its distributor network, which will ship to select retailers, bars and restaurants across the United States as of June 2023 at a suggested retail price of $499.99 (750ml); state taxes will vary per market. It joins the Weller lineup of Weller Special Reserve, Weller Antique 107, Weller 12 Year Old, Weller Full Proof, Weller C.Y.P.B (“Craft Your Perfect Bourbon”), and Weller Single Barrel as well as William Larue Weller, which is released each fall as part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
There it is! The retail price is revealed to be $500, not $400 like I initially suspected it would be released at. I was close, but wow. That’s a lot of money for a bottle sharing almost the same specs as Weller 12 albeit in a much cooler bottle. This will definitely ruffle some feathers in the enthusiast community. But it is not the first time Buffalo Trace has shown us their willingness to mark up the SRP on allocated bottles and it won’t be the last. Please don’t buy this on secondary immediately. You’re going to get ripped off.
Also, the release date is going to be this month! That’s much, much, much sooner than any of us expected. In fact, it’s only about 30 days after the original TTB paperwork was filed for the label. Rumor had it that execs at Buffalo Trace were pissed it was leaked so soon because it was a product that was going to debut in 2024. Turns out those turned out to be exactly that; rumors. But this begs the question: is the future of Buffalo Trace going to be super-late TTB filings before a new product is released? Only time will tell.
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