The Rise of Weller

The Weller Effect

I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend of empty Weller shelves over the past few years. It’s not William Larue Weller that you can’t find. It’s not even W.L. Weller 12 or Weller Antique. It’s the entire Weller line that can’t be found. A year and a half ago I wrote a post about Weller Antique and Special Reserve being the “available” wheated bourbon option. Since then, things have changed drastically. I haven’t seen Weller Antique in months and Special Reserve sparingly. Retailers tell stories of guys cleaning them out as soon as a Weller bottle hit the shelf. Is this the bourbon version of trickle down economics?

Weller has long been a favorite amongst Bourbonr’s but the last few years have been something of an anomaly. Weller’s roots are from Stitzel-Weller but has called Buffalo Trace home for more than a decade. Others have pointed to my Poor Man’s Pappy (SB Blend) post. Even though that is one of my most popular posts, it was more “riding the wave” than creating it. With the rise of Pappy, was Weller able to hang on to the coattails? Yes, it’s a great bourbon at a great price. However, there’s plenty of other bourbons with a similar price/quality ratio. In my opinion, Weller has the perfect storm of sellable factors. Price/quality ratio. Different (wheated). Pappy’s cousin. Take a look at search volume for the two brands:

Maybe it’s just the popularity of bourbon? Lets take a look at three other brands in a similar price point. There’s an increase but nothing like the increase in the Pappy/Weller brands.

There’s no denying the quality of Weller line. They’re good and affordable. Good and affordable has been a common combination in the bourbon world for many years. Next, it’s different. Weller uses wheat instead of rye. Would a new bourbon drinker pick up on the difference? Probably not but they’ll know that it’s good and assume it’s because they dropped the wheat for the rye. Plus, it gives them info to impress friends with. “I love wheated bourbon” sounds good in conversation. Finally, and most importantly, Weller is Pappy’s cousin. Yes, it’s the same mash bill from the same distillery. While each of these things on their own isn’t enough to get the hype train moving combined it’s a perfect storm.

This isn’t a bad thing. Weller is great bourbon and I’m glad it’s getting recognized as such. The problem is people are starting to pay $100+ for a bottle of W.L. Weller 12. $100! It’s crazy to me that someone would pay that much for W.L. Weller 12 but it’s a difference of perspective. Lets use the new(er) to bourbon drinker as an example. He hasn’t been able to find Pappy but he’s heard that it sells Pappy for $500-$2,000 in some stores and online. One day he visits his local store and the owner pitches him Pappy’s Cousin for the low price of $100. It sounds like a deal! While very few people are paying the “secondary” prices for Pappy what they’re doing is setting a new reference point for price. In my mind, Weller will always be a $30 bottle. For others, it’s a steal as a Pappy alternative for $100. Still questioning why Buffalo Trace hasn’t drastically raised prices for Pappy?

Pappy Express

This bourbon trickle down effect can also be seen with the Four Roses. Their Single Barrel Limited Edition pushed the popularity of Four Roses Store Picks even higher. That’s my guess for why Four Roses decided to discontinue the FRSBLE.Β The trickle down bourbon effect has affected numerous other bottles over the last couple of years. Want a bottle of Elmer T Lee? What about Sazerac Rye? I assume this is what Buffalo Trace was hoping would happen with Stagg Jr. however, it didn’t seem to work the same way. They should have gone with William LaRue Weller Jr. πŸ™‚

 

70 comments

    I know this store and that is a store pick which I have seen start with the weller special reserve in 2015. When I visited bt in 2014 they didn’t do a wsr store selection yet. So it’s a single barrel wsr!

    And there’s no way in hell I’m paying 100 bucks for W12. It’s good but I’d buy 2 bottles of 4RSB and a McKenna 10 with that 100.

    i was in a store in marietta, ga last night and they had about 20 bottles of special reserve on the shelf. seems like that’s an easy one to find around atlanta. the others are a little more difficult, but i have managed to scoop up some weller 12 and old antique for less than $30.

    Inside the city shelves get cleared. Really the only area that has a lot of it is that store that you went to ( I know the store but won’t dare mention it).

    The sad part about all this “inflation” is the effect it has on the real bourbon drinkers (aficionados). These sky high prices make those products status symbols. We get to show them off. It’s, sort of, like catching a great white shark with a rod and reel. We get to tell the story about our conquest, what it took to achieve it etc. Most of us damn well know that a bottle of Pappy 23 is not worth $3000 or WL 12 or Elmer costing $100+. I’d rather take the time and my money to try the dozens of other bourbons around, that are still at reasonable prices and taste great

    Joe…I’m guilty as charged with the “great white” stories. I was on a quest this past November and lucky enough to obtain a VW12, ETL, WLW, and a few others. It wasn’t easy getting them but I paid retail prices only and love to show them off to friends. The ridiculous thing is I’m hesitant to open some of them. What’s wrong with me????

    Sounds like someone second-guessed opening an investment grade “liquid” asset that is on the up-and-up. I mean.. we’re all human and most of us American – which means we have capitalism in our daily lives from the moment we start walking. Embrace your inner collector and don’t open it… SELL TEH PAPIEZZ!!! WINNING!!!!

    You are suffering from “collector syndrome”. Like the guy who buys a boat, every kind of fishing gear and all the latest fad lures and then never goes fishing.

    I find all of this highly frustrating. I have no interest in the over priced secondary market. A local retailer had sent me an email the other day to let me know they just received a shipment of Weller Antique. I figured fine I’ll run there at lunch and pick up a bottle for myself. Got there to find out that right after they opened one person went in there and cleaned them out of their entire stock. While I’m sure this person will keep a bottle for themselves, most likely every other bottle will be sold on the secondary market for ridiculous prices. Here in Maryland, Weller is already fairly impossible to find. Appreciation of bourbon is great until the greed has completely taken over and you can’t find anything that should be readily available.

    I have not found Weller 12 or Anique in NYC but I did trek to Washington Heights to find a bottle of Weller Reserve for about $28.00.

    It was just ok, I was not happy with all the pepper last and I really dint not like the tinny (metallic) aftertaste. It was great in the nose and mouth at first, but that quickly vanished and then left a smell in the glass that I did not find appealing.

    I would love to do a taste test with friends on the rye vs wheat question. Tell me two bourbons, that are similar in every way…age, proof, %corn, etc….except…one uses rye…one wheat. Are there two bourbons out there..that are attainable…that would work for this test? If not…the two closest?

    Old fitzgerald bottled in bond vs. Evan Williams bottled in bond. Weller special reserve vs. Buffalo trace. Larceny vs. Elijah craig NAS.

    Found some OWA 107 a few months ago and they didn’t last, $22+ a bottle. I even had my Sister try and buy it at the BT gift shop and they were sold out there too. The WSR pops up now and then but I’m not the biggest fan, more of a mixer for me. I luv the OWA 107. I have one bottle left and I’m hoarding it. I’ve never seen a OLW 12 in the wild.

    I tried a VWSP 12yr right after EC 18yr and was disappointed. Had them both neat and the EC was smooth as silk.

    I can find plenty of Stagg Jr but it’s so so. Too bad…

    i think the lack of OWA 107 at retail is partly due to the fact that BT are offering it as a Store Selection offer now. i know that a local shop traded two Barrel Selections from BT for a single barrel of OWA. safe to say, it was gone after 8hrs of hitting the shelf. i lucked out and bought a couple 1.75’s and a couple 750’s, but alas, it’s all gone now – don’t judge me. now, it’s a waiting game to find it pop up somewhere else unexpectedly. also, the secondary price for store picks of OWA are really astounding.

    Weller special reserve not worth the fuss but Weller antique is great and available where I live. I am officially done chasing the hard to get allocated stuff – not worth it. I have been enjoying good old generic buffalo trace bourbon this week for $30 a bottle that you can find anywhere. When this bourbon “fad” passes in 3 years I will go back to the allocated items and pay retail. I remember the same thing happened with cigars in the mid to late 1990’s – people charging $100 for an opus x cigar – now you can find them anywhere for $20. It will be the same with bourbon. Untuil then, I will enjoy my buffalo trace and weller antique.

    I highly doubt what you’re calling a “fad” will have passed in three years, seeing as bourbon’s popularity has done nothing but increase significantly every year for at least 6 years now. I hope I’m wrong but I won’t get my hopes up.

    I managed to find 3 bottles of Elmer & 3 bottles of WLWA107 all for around $30 each @ a local (Seattle area) store last fall and I got a bottle of WLWSR & a bottle of WLW12 from my sister this past Christmas (don’t know what she paid nor where she got em). I’ve also been lucky enough to find hard to get FRs and Blantons when I’ve looked for em…..maybe I should buy some Powerball tickets!

    What store Arthur? I’m looking for a nice bottle for my brother’s wedding and would love to gift him one of the ones you found.

    I have the special reserve and 107 and the 12 year and found them all not even twenty miles from where I live but I live in southern indiana so that might be why being so close to the bourbon capital.

    You can find the Weller antique online at Ezra’s from time to time. Better yet, you can let it find you by telling Ezra’s to e-mail you when it’s in stock. You have to pay shipping on it, but that’s not too bad. I think I paid ~$42 including shipping the last time I picked up a bottle of Weller via Ezra’s.

    I really like the Weller 12. Ive turned friends on to it and ive let friends sample it -vs- Pappy special reserve and ORV 10 and many liked the Weller 12 better. Ive always enjoyed the Weller SR which was readily available in north florida up until about 3 months ago – now you hardly see it. My liquor stores tell me they just arent getting it in. Im just in a habit of hitting my local store on the morning when the “truck” comes.

    Enjoyed the blog; however, articles like this will continue to drive prices through the roof : ( who wants to start a scotch revolution so we can all go back to drinking our brown Well water (haha, sorry easily amused) at reasonable prices?!!

    Our club does every tasting blind. It’s the great equalizer that forces you to use your eyes, nose and palette to be the judge. When you are trying to find the optimal bottle from a group, be sure to taste from low proof to higher proof, and/or young to old. Too large of a variance skews the tasting and it’s like comparing apples to oranges, which some tastings are meant to show the huge differences, but in this case, you’re trying to find the best WLW substitute for your taste.

    I believe Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Makers Mark all have 16% wheat in their mashbill. Bernheim is 51% wheat.

    Weller Special Reserve – saw it today for $15.99. I’d say that’s about right. Not sure why it’s so underwhelming compared to the 107 and 12 year. I’ll keep chasing the 12 year but not paying the jacked price. Bought it earlier this year for $30 and then saw it at another shop for $99. I was told, hush hush, but this is really Pappy. Just smiled and said no thanks.

    Yep. Found my stash of antique. 10 dusty bottles on a shelf for $25 each…. Been there for at least 2 years… Oh sleepy mountain towns….

    Weller Special Reserve sells in St. Louis for $29.99 for 1.75L. The 12 yo used to sell for $35.00 for 1.75L but we can no longer get it.

    Have no trouble finding the Weller 107 here, it is superb. I got a 1.75 of Weller 12 for Christmas, that’s just for me!
    Go for Eagle Rare, Four Roses small batch, both easily available and while not wheaten excellent to sip

    Great post. Demand is through the roof, but the secondary has been the primary cause. Bunkering cases of bottles reduces the supply, which leads to an increased price point. it comes down to who can buy them out faster.

    I was guilty of this. Stopped in an out of the way store and saw that they had a shelf of OWA for 23/bottle. So, I bought 5 of them. I left the other 4 for some other lucky people to stumble upon. But, deep down, I do wish I had picked them all up.

    Elmer T., Weller special reserve and Antique 107 are regularly available here in the Chicago land area. The W12 has been missing in action for a while. There are cases of Bernheim on the shelf here not moving–it’s a nice Wheated Bourbon alternative!

    Have developed a fondness for WLW. It is not sold in Ohio. But lucky me have a son in Mobile AL. So either he or I drive in I-65 through the great state of KY. I had a friend recommended it years ago. Well I found it. $28 1.75L. Brought 2 the first time. Love it. 2 years ago my son picked up a case of 1.75’s for 180.00. I was in heaven My last couple trips I am lucky to find a bottle. Bad news is he is being transferred to Seattle .But I see from an above post it may be available there. Well someday it will catch up and Ohio will be blessed with the Weller-Pappy line. I was able to see 3 bottles of Pappy, The store I use supplies the Casino. In Ohio all liquor must go through a distributor to seller. So I guess the Casino had pull. But there was a Pappy sighting in Northeast Ohio.

    Could we stop writing articles about secondary prices? You’re killing my bottle flipping business. Let people buy what they want.

    Special Reserve has been my every day drink. Didn’t know it was becoming “rare”. Get it locally for $27 for 1.75L. Don’t tell every one!

    Limited allocations are also part of the problem. One of my regular spots called the other day to say they had received their annual allocation of Weller Special Reserve – 3 bottles. Anything that rare must be good, right? He gave me one for under $20 so the price was OK, but there won’t be any more here anytime soon. Next week he MIGHT have a couple of OWAs and I might get one.

    Maybe you guys just don’t get it. I took an empty bottle of Weller 12, and ripped a huge ass fart in it. Then I sold it as rare Stitzel Weller angels share on Bottlespot for $450. People will pay for anything these days….

    Weller Special Reserve is 24.99 for a 1.75L. It just took an increase from 22.99 because the distributors could not honor their 10 case deal pricing because of new found product scarcity.

    It’s definitely much more scarce these days, but I’ve been able to keep a stock in the carolinas. I actually found 1.75 of both antique and reserve. 12 year is the one that’s basically a unicorn around here.

    I LOVE the ENTIRE “Weller line”! I have many bottles of them in my cabinet, and after reading this article yesterday, went out and bought 2 of 3 (left one on the shelf) of the “Old Weller Antique”…the store also had 3, 1.75Lbottles of the “Weller Special Reserve” going for $52.99 each….didn’t pick any of those up, as I’m pretty much stocked up with those. But, yeah…I think Buffalo Trace is “up to something” with the Weller Line of bourbons. Im thinking maybe that a new bottle of the wheated stuff will grace us this fall in the BTAC collection…like Blake said, maybe a “William Larue Weller, jr.”….ha! They’re holding back on the stock (bottlings) for a damn good reason…Seriously, I’ve just been stocking up as much as I can on ANYTHING coming outta Buffalo Trace…as it is ALL becoming more and more scarce….even their flagship bottle is hard to find (in VA). I’ve been on a waiting list here over a year waiting on my allocation of “Weller 12”, but yeah, i agree, somethings going on with the Weller stuff.

    …ESPECIALLY with the Weller 12….that is where the mystery lies….it will most probably be added to the BTAC collection as a once a year allocation and to justify it’s new price….more and more people are enjoying wheated bourbons these days…it only makes economic sense for them to reintroduce the Weller 12 in a new format to cash in on the bourbon craze…they’re going to bottle it up with the 12 year age statement, and then add it to the Antique collection in the fall…. being that they only have ONE wheater (WLW) in the entire BTAC collection, it only makes sense…they have 2 Rye and 2 corn (Sazerac & Handy) (Stagg & Eagle Rare) and the one wheater, William Larue Weller. …..they need another wheater …I hope I’m right….jus’ a thought*..

    I wish they would just drop the Weller 12 and save it all for the BTAC W.L. Weller. I prefer the barrel poof over the cut stuff any day.

    They won’t cut or filter the Weller 12 if they put it with the BTAC bottles….they’ll leave it at cask strength w/the 12 year old age statement on the bottle….that’s money right derr folks!, hahaha!..or maybe they’re aging it to 19 years and bringing back the past bottlings of Weller 19 yr.old…who da f**k knows!!! What I know (and Buffalo Trace) is that folks *LOVE* them some Weller 12 and will pay BIG bucks and jump through hoops and hurdles to get some of it!

    I recently purchased a bottle of WSR for $29. Opened it earlier tonight, it is as good as I recall. Smoky, spicy start, caramel and vanilla finish. In comparison to WL12, WLR and their famous newly rich cousin, the WSR tastes young and rough around the edges- but there is enough similarity in profile to consider WSR to be an Ur Pappy. And for those who want something associated with PVW, this is a good first start. Most know enough to be dangerous, and their knowledge base stops when they learned that PVW comes from specially selected barrels of BT wheated mashbill, and the lesser selections are bottled as Weller. Scarcity and price hikes are really that simple to explain. I still have about 2 good drinks left in a bottle of 12yr, and have searched for another bottle in vain. If anyone wants to take pity on a bourbon loving friend, just drop me a line….. Thanks.

    I was lucky to stumble on two bottles of Weller 12 a couple of months ago for retail price ($30). I bought one and left the other. Of course, every other subsequent time I’ve seen it for sale it’s been for around $100… crazy! At those prices I’ll stick to Larceny or Maker’s Mark if I’m in the mood for a wheated bourbon.

    The question is this: Why isn’t Weller available? Hasn’t anyone thought of calling up Buffalo Trace and asking them?

    Buying bourbon at second hand rates is like poor people voting for trump to spite brown people. Its gonna cost way more than its worth in the long run. Just wait it out, find the occasional bottle of elmer or weller when it pops up. But buying overpriced bourbon just to show off is just legitimizing the gougers, and it makes you look dumb. Sorry to offend anyone… wait, no I’m not.

    I like everyone saying buffalo trace must be up to something. That’s why we can’t find this stuff anymore. Then, in the next breath, saying I stock up on cases of this whenever I see it! That’s why it’s hard to find. I bet BT is still cranking out as much as they can. The shortage is because everyone, myself included, has cases of it in their basement/liquor cabinets.

    This may be a pointless post at this time, but I’ll through it up since it’s relative to the header…

    This weekend I took a drive w/ the Wife up north of where I live thru some of the “small” back road towns. Evidently there was a OWA107 release recently in the area. Just about every shop had “some”. The “BIG” stores where all asking around $42.00 to $48.00 for the 750ml. Now here where the plot moistens… 1 shop (the most expensive) — OWA107 – 750ml = $49.99. 1L = $69.99. MAG = $89.99 (F’n WOW!). This Cat also had the WLWSR 1L. for $49.99. Now, this was a shop that I grabbed a few WLW12’s over the summer for $40.00 Each (not great, but compared to most of the jokers in the region – that’s 1/2 price). Can’t wait to se what gouges for WLW12 this year!! 1 shop had the following… OWA107 — 750ml = $38.99. 1L = $46.99. MAG = $69.99. WLWSR 1L $35.99 & the MAG was $58.99. Good? Bad? Who knows at this point w/ how things are. Then my hero… OWA107 1L — $33.00!! There’s a few good ones left!! He even stated “Here, We DON’T Gouge!”. Just thought I throw this out.

    “Snitching” is also adding to the scarcity of hot tickets. I was at a Naples, Fl. store at opening. Clerk was opening a curious Weller box. WLW!! I bought 2 of the 4. After a 1 minute tour of the bourbon shelf I went back to buy another. Both remain bottles has mysteriously vanished – and no customer had visited the counter! Weeks later I “opened” the same store, and asked a different clerk what new bourbon she had to offer this morning? She said “nothing today”. Then I noticed the young clerk I’d purchased the WLW from pulling a bottle of Willits from under the counter further down. I asked him for the bottle, and he said it was his.
    For me, “snitching” is an employee getting first crack at hard-to-find stuff. Curiously, Weller Sp. Res. is
    somewhat available. Receipt of Weller Antique & Weller 12 hasn’t been acknowledged to me in over 4 Months!
    If I hadn’t been present at the opening of the WLW carton, I doubt it’s appearance would have ever been
    admitted. Ticks me off!

    12-23-17 recent trip to Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s was sold out in a matter of hours the Wed before I arrived. They had plenty of Eagle Rare, BT, and EHTSB you could only have one of the EHTSB with either BT or ER. liquor stores in Frankfort were sold out of Blanton’s I did find a bottle of Blanton’s at liquor stores in Lexington along with OWA for under 27.00 limit one. Interesting that Four Roses is starting to sell some Select offerings at their gift shop. They didn’t have any while I was there but Wild Turkey Gift shop had a Select Russell Reserve SB selected for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail which is excellent. I will buy these barrel strength additions anyday!! Four Roses store picks are really good to. I have an OBSV Barrel Strength that is excellent and well worth the money spent. Stopping in Louisville on the way to IN, I found a bottle of 1.75 WSR for 35.00 dollars the last one. Really a pretty productive trip. It looks like in the Lexington, Louisville area bottles are subject to a one bottle limit at the places I stopped at. Cheers!!

    Just picked up a 1.75 of Weller 12 today at Specs i Houston. They had them for $50. If you are in Houston check your stores they all have it right now.

    Bought two bottles of the Weller Special Reserve when I saw it in a small store in NY, $69 each. Great tasting wheat burbon! Only going to drink one bottle if anyone is interested in CT reach out to me. Though a beer drinker friend would like to try a bottle…. can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink!

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