Weller Craft Your Perfect Bourbon (CYPB, 2021) Review
In 2018, Buffalo Trace launched their inaugural batch of Weller “Craft Your Perfect Barrel” (sometimes refered to as “Create Your Perfect Barrel).
This new label was a result of a 3 year long online survey that was kind of like the bourbon version of a “choose your own adventure” book.
Along the way users would be confronted with which path to take based on the descriptions of the different specs they were allowed to choose.
The end result was revealed when Buffalo Trace announced that the people had spoken and overwhelmingly preferred an 8 year old wheated bourbon that had been aged on the highest floors of their rickhouses and then bottled at 95 proof.
I was not alone in rolling my eyes when I read the results. Almost all of my friends didn’t believe that the results were legitimate either.
But when I actually opened the website and did the survey myself I witnessed how easy it was to travel down the path that a majority of those 100,000 voters had chosen.
The descriptions of what would make a ryed bourbon different from a wheated bourbon would easily persuade anyone to begin by picking the wheated one.
I tried to swim against the tide by making my ideal mashbill closer to a high-rye Four Roses mashbill but was warned along the way with descriptions like “Getting Spicier,” “Daringly Spicy!” and “Woah, Daredevil!”
Of course these descriptions would push the average person to equate having rye in their bourbon would be an unpleasant experience.
Similarly, if you select anything that was aged for more than 12 years, the flavor notes became less enticing and included descriptions of oak, tobacco and being “dry.”
A new or average bourbon drinker is not going to pick a bourbon over 10 years old if they thought they were going to get those kinds of flavors.
Experienced drinkers know that some of the most tantalizingly complex flavors lies above the 12 year age mark, but most new drinkers came from the world of sweet cocktails where that additional age didn’t sound appealing.
To summarize, Buffalo Trace essentially made a survey that catered to the existing stocks that they already had aging by funneling people into believing this was the ideal bourbon.
If the program truly allowed consumers to dictate their own perfect process for making bourbon, it should have gone more in depth by asking consumers what proof they wanted the bourbon to come off the still at, what proof they wanted their bourbon barreled at, oak type, length of time the staves were to be seasoned/air dried and if they wanted their bourbon chill filtered or not.
I guarantee that had Buffalo Trace launched this program today with a complete “Soup to Nuts” approach to making the most desirable bourbon, we’d see the enthusiasts flood their website trying to recreate either Stitzel Weller or something closer to 1980’s Wild Turkey.
However, many of us would probably not live long enough to see our results come to fruition. So maybe I’m being overly harsh on Buffalo Trace’s desire to actually try something new that could deliver a product that we’d see sooner than later.
But none of this matters if the end result didn’t produce what they promised consumers it would smell and taste like. So how close did they come? There’s only one way to find out.
With the help of my friend Robert, I was able to taste this for myself. Here are my thoughts.
Nose: Rich sweets like caramel, fudge and syrups mingle with cherry pie filling and soft oak. The oak is a perfect balance that doesn’t overpower any of the other scents while adding great depth and character. Soft baking spice scents and loads of vanilla also add to the delicious factor.
As the session goes on, slight nuanced notes of cooked berries and phyllo dough can also be found.
Palate: Vanilla cake batter with both soft and sharp cinnamon stand out while cherry pie and dark brown sugar combine to create a sweet dessert flavor.
The oak is more present here than in other Weller products (12 Year notwithstanding) but it allows the sweet treats to be the star of the show. Honestly, there isn’t much else you’d want in a bourbon and CYPB absolutely nails it.
Finish: Toffee and cinnamon give way to lingering oak and thick syrup. The cherries are more concentrated and become darker and thicker. The finish goes on for a decently long time and never gets boring.
I hate that CYPB is such a delicious bourbon. Why? Because the secondary market has taken a $40 bottle and valued it above $500.
At those prices, it’s just not worth it to open up and drink because the bottle has so much more value being sealed.
Sadly, this is the reality of anything with the words “Weller” on the front label these days.
In a previous review regarding Weller Single Barrel, I found a lot of the same things that I found with this release, only I really liked the impact the oak made throughout the dram and that the flavors seemed slightly bolder.
This is likely because it was aged higher in the rickhouses than most Weller barrels come from. Otherwise, all of the flavors were great and very well rounded.
As a final thought, if you are somehow lucky enough to buy either a CYPB or the new orange label Weller Single Barrel but can only choose one, choose the CYPB.
There is a reason behind this: Buffalo Trace has stupidly decided to release no information on the exact barrel specs of any Weller Single Barrel.
We literally know nothing about age or warehouse location, two factors that greatly influence the character of the whiskey within. But with CYPB, we do know these details.
And this explains why CYPB is richer than other Weller labels (the barrels were subjected to higher levels of heat) and has such great oak (due to the extra year and a half of aging compared to other Weller labels).
In the land of overpriced secondary bourbon, CYPB doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if you ever get a chance to have a taste, CYPB won’t disappoint.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)