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.


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