YOU WON’T GET PAPPY THIS YEAR, SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY?

Whether you love the Pappy Van Winkle offerings or find them grossly overrated, there is one thing we can all agree on – PVW is nearly impossible to find.

So, if you can’t find Pappy, what is the best alternative for fans of wheated bourbon?

We conducted a blind tasting of 7 wheated bourbons. Four testers scored each bourbon on a scale from 1 to 5 on nose, palate, and finish, with a maximum total score of 15.

At the end of the tasting we tallied our scores and revealed the identities of the bourbons we sampled.

Here are the results…

Wheated Bourbon #1: [Maker’s Mark (MM)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 3.5
Palate = 2
Finish = 2
Total Score = 7.5 out of 15
Notes: Nice nose – orange and spice, palate flat and hot, dry finish

Wheated Bourbon #2 [Weller 12 yr. (W12)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 2
Palate = 3
Finish = 3
Total Score = 8.0 out of 15
Notes: Nose is light and one-dimensional, palate is solid but unspectacular, moderate and thin finish

Wheated Bourbon #3 [Weller Special Reserve (WSR)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 2.5
Palate = 2
Finish = 2
Total Score = 6.5 out of 15
Notes: Very light nose with floral notes, palate is flat and boring, finish non-existent

Wheated Bourbon #4 [Larceny]
Average Scores:
Nose = 2.5
Palate = 3.5
Finish = 3.5
Total Score = 9.5 out of 15
Notes: Nose is light with citrus and earthy notes, sweet on the palate and more complex than previous samples, solid finish

Wheated Bourbon #5 [Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (OF BIB)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 2.5
Palate = 4
Finish = 4
Total Score = 10.5 out of 15
Notes: Nose is a bit weak, sweet up front on the palate, finish is dry and long. The best flavor so far.

Wheated Bourbon #6 [Old Weller Antique (OWA)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 4
Palate = 4
Finish = 4
Total Score = 12.0 out of 15
Notes: Nose is sweet with orange and bubble gum, palate is excellent- sweet and hot, finish is long and viscous. Excellent pour.

Wheated Bourbon #7  [Rebel Yell 10yr. Single Barrel (RY10)]
Average Scores:
Nose = 3.5
Palate = 3.5
Finish = 4
Total Score = 11.0 out of 15
Notes: Nose has tons of orange and wood spice, palate is well balanced with sweetness and burn, excellent finish – maybe the best of the group.

Wheated Bourbon Final Rankings

{From Best to Worst by Total Score}

  • Old Weller Antique (OWA)
  • Rebel Yell 10yr. Single Barrel (RY10)
  • Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (OF BIB)
  • Larceny
  • Weller 12 yr. (W12)
  • Maker’s Mark (MM)
  • Weller Special Reserve (WSR)

{From Best to Worst by Palate + Finish Combined Score}

  • Old Weller Antique (OWA) and Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (OF BIB) tied for 1st
  • Rebel Yell 10yr. Single Barrel (RY10) 
  • Larceny
  • Weller 12 yr. (W12)
  • Maker’s Mark (MM) and Weller Special Reserve (WSR) tied for last

Our Takeaways

  • WSR is simply not good. It was easily the lowest rated bourbon on all of our tasting sheets. Not everything with “Weller” on the label is worth buying.
  • MM had a surprisingly good nose, but fell apart on the palate and finish. 
  • 3 of the 4 tasters preferred Larceny to Weller 12. In fact, Larceny averaged higher scores in every category. And you can find it everywhere. Think about that.
  • OWA won the tasting easily, with 4’s across the board. I was actually surprised by how much I liked OWA since it has never been a bottle I chase. That may change.
  • OF BIB and RY10 are great bourbons that almost anyone will enjoy (one taster ranked OF BIB #1 overall). Both are complex and worthy of seeking out.

Wheated Bourbon Rebel Yell 10yr - Bourbon SippersIn the end, if you can’t find Pappy Van Winkle (and you likely won’t) grab a bottle of OWA and be happy that you have a great wheater for a fraction of the cost. And if you can’t find OWA, give Larceny a shot. It may surprise you with a flash if you go into it with an open mind.

JE

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