Category Archives: Buffalo Trace

W.L. Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique 107, and W.L. Weller 12 year

It’s not really Bourbon Buffalo Trace season anymore, but that’s what we’re talking about today because that’s how we roll here at How to Drink Whisky Enterprises. We are current as fuck and super diligent about blogging. We want you to be current as fuck with us because, dammit, you deserve it. But we respect that you’re a casual readership, too. You’re attention span is small. So small. Such a small, tiny attention span it is, but so valuable! So pay attention! This is important!!!


Weller Special Reserve vs Antique 107 vs 12 Year


Do you or anyone you know do guerrilla landscaping? Like… if I paid you to spite-mow a giant dong  on my neighbor’s lawn, would you do it? My neighbor’s lawn desperately needs a giant dong mowed into it. How much do you think that would cost?


Special Reserve – (45%)

Nose: Farmy with a minerally graphite. Sweet, wheat chaff and hot, buttered waffles. Not very complicated and without serious flaws.

Palate: Easy-going. Tempered butterscotch candies and diluted wood. Hint of vanilla. It’s almost like it comes out of the bottle with a splash of water already added. Easy palate. Easy finish. Easy easy easy.

Rating: RecommendedThis one is a no-brainer. For $20-30? Buy! Buy! Buy! Plus, like the Antique 107, people often buy single casks of this one for their store, club, or friends. These store picks can range from pedestrian to amazing, making for an affordable and collectible whisky experience.. not that we would ever recommend collecting bottles over drinking them.


Old Weller Antique 107 – (53.5%)

Nose: It starts minerally like the Special Reserve, but takes a quick turn and becomes spicy and sour, like a hit of undiluted lemon juice or a backyard pile of wet sawdust that’s just starting to ferment. Good but definitely more aggressive woodiness.

Palate: A bit of a kick. Short but bold finish with a slightly numbing tongue. Stripped down cinnamon and honey. Citrus rind.

Rating: Try itThis one could use an ice cube or two. No judgement here. Personally, I much prefer the Special Reserve. The sour note on the Antique kind of puts me off. It seems to me like they trade a bit of favorable flavor for a slightly sexier proof. Still, as with the Special Reserve, $20-30 is not a bad deal, and store picks can be exceptional.


12 Year – (45%)

Nose: Like a mix of the Special Reserve and 107, all the sour and vanilla, but balanced with a rich layer of vanilla and fruit, making the sour bearable and the vanilla richer. Raspberry sorbet. Those glowy red cocktail cherries. Cultured butter on granite.

Palate: Not nearly as harsh as the 107 and much sweeter, creamier vanilla than the Special Reserve. Birthday cake with chocolate frosting. Cinnamon. Citrus. Buttery. Not overwhelming but still a very seductive drinker.

Rating: Highly RecommendI love this one. It’s no wonder it’s so hard to find. At roughly the same “honest” retail as the other two, this one takes the prize for me. That’s not to say I haven’t found store picks of the Special Reserve and Antique 107 that were as good or better than the average 12 year bottling.


Guerrilla landscapers interested in the position, please leave a link to your CV in the comments below. Cheers!

Elmer T. Lee – Single Barrel Straight Bourbon (45%)

Elmer T LeeHello, loyal readers!

Today, we’re going to discuss one of my favorite Bourbons, the Elmer T. Lee single barrel. This is a great whisky plucked from the Buffalo Trace warehouses. The label alleges single barrel status, though from the several bottles I’ve tasted they all seem pretty similar with only minor differences.

For those playing along at home, the bottle code on this one is B1407916:06K, which means it was bottled on March 20, 2014.

I also have a surprise for you; a famous guest blogger! Hailing from the great state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln and the land of drinkin’, I’m excited to introduce one of my favorite whisky bloggers, Buck Chowdery, the Bondage Chicken.

HTDW: Greetings, Buck! Thank you for joining me. How was the flight in?

BC: Buck buck buck buck buck.

HTDW: Sounds exhausting. Well, I’m glad you made it. So can you tell us a little about yourself before we dig in and talk about this whisky?

BC: Buck buck buck buck. Bwooock buck buck buck.

HTDW: Wow! I didn’t realize you were a Kentucky Colonel. That’s quite an ironic honor for a chicken.

BC: Buck buck.

HTDW: So, how long have you been reviewing whisky?


HTDW: I’m sorry, did I say something to offend you? I don’t really care how you spell it.

BC: Buck buck.

HTDW: Can you answer the question or should we move on?

BC: Buck buck buck.

HTDW: Okay, let’s just dig right in, then. Shall we? What do you get on the nose?

BC: Bwaaaaaaaack.

HTDW: Yes. In your case, the beak. What do you get on the beak?

BC: Buck buck buck buck buck buck buck. Bwooooock buck buck bock buck. Buck buhcoooock buck buck buck. Buck. Bwock. Buck.

HTDW: I agree! It’s really nice. There’s some farmy notes, like the feed you get from those petting zoo dispensers. Muted orange peels, along with some Fig Newtons and a deep, cheesy, butteriness like a well-browned, cheddar grilled-cheese sandwich. It has a sweet and fruity side to it, too. Light brown sugar. Banana Runts© wrapped in old paper. Oddly enough, I can smell church pew, or maybe it’s faint traces of the old lady perfume left on them… yea, definitely both. 

Buck Chowdery

Buck Chowdery – The Bondage Chicken

BC: Buck buck bock buck.

HTDW: Absolutely. The sweetness does take a second to come out and there are some profoundly delicate leather notes.

BC: Buuuuuck buck bock bwock buck. Buck bwuck bwuck bock.

HTDW: Yes, Buck. We know that there’s no flavoring in this. My readers should be astutely aware of the fact that any non-straight whisky can contain adjuncts like “harmless” flavoring. I covered this back in 2013 when I discussed hops in whisky.

BC: Buck buck buck.

HTDW: Okay, so you’re kind of right. I didn’t spell it out that way, but we did discuss the 2.5% blending materials rule. Considering how at one time rectifiers did add flavor to a product called whisky, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that, because there were precedents for that, too, someday, someone would slip whisky flavor into their whisky. But let’s not argue. This is straight Kentucky Bourbon. Let’s move on to the, er, um… palate? Do chickens have palates?

BC: Buck buck.

HTDW: Good! I find it’s a little soft for me at first entry, but builds up that classic cooling pepper as it goes along. Not very sweet, but the finish rolls up to the tell-tale, spent vanilla bean that a lot of well-aged Bourbons can develop. It’s a very solid, classical, middle-of-the-road Bourbon.


HTDW: What? No, that wasn’t a chicken joke. Are you always this touchy? Can we talk about the palate?

BC: Buck buck. Buuuuuck bwuck buck bwuck buck. Bock buh-cock, buck buck buck, buck bock. Bock.

HTDW: It is. Especially considering the rye in the mashbill. I find adding a little water boosts the sweetness nicely.

BC: Buck buck buck buck.

HTDW: Good point, Buck. At $30, the price is right on. It’s unfortunate that there are so many bottle flippers ripping this off the shelf to sell at 100% markups.

BC: Buck buck buck buck buck.

HTDW: Well, that’s where we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think it’s an unfortunate practice and makes good Bourbon less accessible, but let’s save that conversation for another day. Maybe next time we have you back, we can dig in to that topic a little more. You will come back and visit us again, soon, won’t you?

BC: Buck.

HTDW: Awesome. Thanks again for joining us, Buck. Cheers!

Rating: RecommendedI’m quite taken with this everyday drinker. It’s sad to think that the eponymous Elmer Lee passed away last year. Hopefully Buffalo Trace can keep his legacy alive. This is a spectacular Bourbon for $30, which is about as much as you should have to pay for it.

*all characters appearing in this work are fictitional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection – Made with Rice (45%)

Buffalo Trace Rice MashThis is a Bourbon mash padded with rice instead of rye or wheat. Like all of Buffalo Trace’s Experimental Collection, the label lays out lots of details about the spirit’s creation, including stave drying time, evaporation rate, and barrel entry proof. Very cool.

The official tasting notes on this one’s label are a little puzzling to me, though. The very first line which states “Very clean aroma,” loses me right away. Anyone who’s smelled rice spirit knows it’s anything but clean. Rice is a funky grain that often distills out to become a vinegary sewer of a spirit. This Bourbon is rather light overall, but that rice funk is here in spades. Anyone nosing this next to a classic Buffalo Trace bottling would know right away what rice offers to the spirit… which is precisely where this whisky starts to shine.

This is one of the few “experimental” whiskies that I didn’t immediately regret buying when I opened it. It’s probably not going to quench your Bourbon thirst if that’s what ails you; it’s a little alien, but if you’re looking for some cerebral drinking then this might just scratch that itch. Judging by the exorbitant price, I would say that’s the market they were probably going after when they released this one. It’s definitely not meant to be a day-to-day whisky. This is a bottle that you open once and then wait for your nerdiest whisky friends to come over and sample.

Nose: At first, it’s bright and sweet with bubblegum and pop rocks. Carrots and medicated vanillin start to take the aroma in a different direction. Then it becomes porkish, like the pig-fart smell a chemically treated pork shoulder from an industrial scale farm gives off when you boil it, with other weirdly funky undertones, like bamboo salt.

Palate: First sip is like sucking on the tape from a cassette. Eventually, the palate settles down into something sweeter and slightly more classical but it stays slightly bitter and woody. Loads of caramel. Light orange candy in the finish.

Rating: Try itAgain, this is not an everyday whisky. The word Bourbon on the label will lead you down an alleyway booby trapped with expectations. You need to ignore those little voices telling you what to want from the spirit and let the drink tell you what it is, instead. If you can manage that, then this $60 350mL half-bottle may just make an interesting addition to your whisky shelf.

Stagg Jr. – 2013 (67.2%)

Stagg JrIf the George T. Stagg is Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account, then the Stagg Jr. is Justin Beiber: that’s direction I wanted to take this review, but while the Stagg Jr. is certainly younger and doesn’t seem so traumatized up close, it’s not quite as out of control, so I’m going to have to abandon the metaphor.

The initial public reception seemed lackluster. The way that the George seems to have had a hard time making the public dislike it despite the rising cost and falling abv, I think the Jr. is living in its shadow and will never get the acclaim it ought to. In a George T. Stagg vs Stagg Jr. throwdown, it seems like it’s difficult for people to not compare the younger version to their love for the older one that made the name famous.

Personally, after comparing the two side by side, I’m not sure exactly where I sit, but it’s probably closer to the original. Both have moments when I like them and moments when I don’t. Both are over-priced, in my opinion. The younger version is better in some ways and worse in a few more. Most importantly, the psychotic resin-pepper is toned down in the younger incarnation. The Jr. doesn’t try so hard, and is certainly less complex, but I don’t feel like it just stripped all the fleshy bits off my throat after a sip. The next big difference is that there’s more vanilla in the original and much less here, which is tragic for the Jr. because the vanilla is my favorite part of both.

Another pleasant surprise, water is nicer to the Stagg Jr. The addition squashes some of the musty woody notes in the palate. The 2013 George T. Stagg is like a gremlin when it gets wet. It multiplies the resin and sour. The 2013 Jr. is… um… well, it (probably) won’t kill your science teacher. I wouldn’t drink either after midnight, though. Despite the more reserved demeanor, the proof of 2013’s Jr. is actually higher than the corresponding George T. Stagg.

Nose: Musty cedar and suntan lotion. Malty caramel cut with Vitamin B and loam. The umami is more like figs marinated in watered down fish sauce, now. Teaberry chewing gum and stale vanilla beans. Maple syrup over buttery Eggo waffles. Sweaty, bamboo-lined karate dojo. Plasticy, like the inside of a brand new Chevy Nova; no, not the cool third gen ones. I mean the 1985 hatchback piece-of-shit version.

Palate: This Jr. is definitely woodier right away and the vanilla beans, while still present, are smaller. The cocoa notes are also farther away now. Farmy and cooling, without the sour capsaicin of the original, also not as sweet. A touch more bitter with drying cedar that gets a little bit sweeter as it wraps up. Luden’s cherry cough drops with a long, numbing finish.

Rating: Try itThis one sells for around $50 and is “nearly a decade” old, so it’s on the pricey side, owing to the fame and hype of its predecessor; trend is the number one enemy of the whisky drinker. It’s supposed to be a tiny bit easier to find, though, and still strong enough that you could, quite effectively, mace an attacker with it. After it’s tepid reception, I would predict we may not see this as frequently as Buffalo Trace originally let on. If this were a $25 bottle I think consumers would have been more excited to see it.

George T. Stagg – 2013 (64.1%)

George-T-Stagg-2013Along with the rest of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, George T. Stagg hasn’t quite reached Pappy Van Winkle status, but it’s quickly gaining ground and is just about as hard to get. They only release it once or twice a year, so you may need to develop a relationship with your local liquor store to procure a bottle. The truth is, if you haven’t found a bottle of this yet, then you’re most likely out of luck for a few months, stuck looking for it at bars, or resigned to playing victim to some hopeful opportunist who bought their entire local supply as an investment so they could sell it for triple what it’s worth.

At first, I wasn’t even going to review this one. It’s so difficult to find that I feel like reviews of it are practically useless. I always imagined people reading this blog were looking for advice on how to spend their money, and rarity considered, a review doesn’t seem like it would serve very many.

Also, it seems like many (not all) of the people who review this kind of stuff are the type of elitist drinkers who like to brag about their collections and all the pricey finds they paid out the nose for. Oh hi, Twitter. I didn’t see you standing there. What’s this, you say? Oh, it’s just a Stitzel-Weller bottling of Old Dickwad 15. It’s suuuuper rare. Woh.

So why bother writing about it? Well okay, maybe I’m a bit of a braggart. (Look what I got, suckas!) That aside, it’s a common sentiment that older whisky is better than younger whisky, though the truth isn’t quite so simple. There’s a finite lifetime on how long whisky can spend in a virgin cask before it becomes undrinkable and this one may be approaching the point of no return. Despite the suspicious lack of an age statement on the bottle, Buffalo Trace’s webpage claims that this whisky is “no less than 15 years old”. If you ask me, after I bought this, I think buying a second bottle would have been a colossal waste of money for me. In that spirit of dissent, I figured a review was prudent, after all.

charlie sheenThis whisky is out of control and I don’t mean the fun “out of control,” like your buddy with the bald tires who goes e-braking around the parking lot the first time it snows each year. This is Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account, out of control. The kind of reckless tweeting that needs a second service so it can operate at full, ludicrous capacity (TwitLonger). This whisky is the kind that angrily capitalizes random WORDS for extra EMPHASIS in between delusions of coke-fueled grandeur, all while arbitrarily bashing the enter key between prepositions. This is the whisky equivalent of that guy we all wish we could have hung out with for a few weeks when we were sixteen, broke and dumb as hell. Sure it’s fun, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live with it, and earnestly trying to understand its musings for more than five minutes at a time is a masochist’s errand.

Ironically, I think the George T. Stagg earns such high praise because of its long history of ridiculousness. Previous releases have boasted proofs that hovered around 140. Trust me when I say you don’t want to know what’ll happen if you accidentally inhale some of that while sipping. I can’t say the 2013 is better or worse than previous releases, but I do feel like it’s probably riding on the coattails of shenanigans past.

Nose: Figs marinated in soy sauce. Deeply roasted pecans over green bananas. Caramel popcorn from a tin. Oak, oak, and oak beside a plate of marzipan dusted with stale, smoked maple sugar. Corn starch dusted carnations and pine resin. It’s sour, rubbery, slightly medicinal and has an almost peaty, phenolic quality to it. If there is a Satan, I would wager that this is what his tears smell like. 

Palate: Predictably HOT and drying at full strength (duh!) followed quickly by a touch of uncured composite tooth filling. Though even with water, the hotness persists, so it’s not just a product of the high abv. It has a strong cooling character that paints your tonsils and makes me feel like I’m drinking a first aid kit full of dry, black licorice, chocolate and pecan skins. Vanilla beans! Candy cinnamon, raw capsaicin and clover buds sprinkled over a plate of the eternally malevolent’s tears.

Rating: Try itThis is a legendary whisky and absolutely worth trying it if you can find it. Old Bourbon isn’t for everyone though, so keep that in mind. One last word of advice: this should only retail for $80-90 in the US. If someone’s trying to sell you a bottle for $250 it’s because they think or hope that you’re an idiot.

Buffalo Trace – Bourbon (45%)

Buffalo TraceFor $25-30 this is definitely a yardstick Bourbon. Not only is it a standard, but the Buffalo Trace Distillery is one of the oldest distillery sites left in the US and produces over a dozen labels other than their namesake, including the lazy-man’s favorite, Pappy Van Winkle. Their distillery is a tourist destination and they have a very snazzy website to match, complete with live web cams so you can watch all the distilling action at home.

For the ladies out there, if you’d like an opportunity to really disappoint your fathers, you can become a “Bourbunny” by sending a scantily clad picture of yourself to Buffalo Trace’s digital saloon. Members will vote on it and if they think you’re hot you could be crowned “Bourbon Babe of the Month”. At the end of the year you may even walk away with a cash prize.

While we’re blurring the line between Bourbon-centric entertainment and erotic photography, I can’t help but ask: if there’s a competition for the ladies why isn’t there one for the men? Sounds like the perfect opportunity to simultaneously challenge the sexual double standard while proving to my mother that she was a terrible parent. I mean, I’m pretty sure she already knows, but a little reminder from time to time couldn’t hurt. For my entry I could use a picture of me in my underwear… but I feel like this picture of me shaking a baby would be better at validating my low, low self-esteem. Chicks dig fatherly types, right? Please say yes.

Whisky Dick of the Month

Nose: A great standard Bourbon profile! Lots of honeyed corn stalk with vanilla, cranberry sauce, crisp raspberries and a little bit of malty pear on the high notes. Beefy toasted bread crumbs at the base, like a chicken fried steak. Some ylang ylang to balance out the rye spice. After a few minutes breathing I can smell some swiss cheese, horse and more jammy notes with amplified oak.

Palate: Charcoal, hot peppers and a medium dose of rye bread. Underneath that, a copper bowl full of raspberries muddled with some mint. Maraschino cherry syrup after a few more sips. Cooling oak-y finish with farmy clementines. Tangy copper sticks around well after the rest of the finish leaves the party.

Rating: RecommendedThis straight Bourbon bottling is a mix of corn, rye and barley, aged in air-cured staves for around 8 years, and blended from up to 40 casks. It has lots of malt on the nose and rye on the tongue, the exact ratios are a secret, which is odd considering their stance on educational drinking; Buffalo Trace does lots of awesome experimenting and releases some very ambitious, didactic bottlings. This isn’t just a yardstick Bourbon, this is a yardstick distillery.

Thanks to the kind folks at Buffalo Trace for the bottle! Cheers!!!