If you live in Florida, you know how frustrating it is to be a Buffalo Trace fan. It’s even worse if you’re a Weller fan since, to the best of my knowledge, the only way to obtain that in-store is by playing the ABC Vault game. The only reason I even got to try the entry-level Weller Special Reserve previously is because my friend’s mom grabbed him a bottle (per his request) in Georgia. They didn’t even have it out on the shelf. These circumstances aren’t exclusive to the Sunshine State, but as a Florida native, my first-hand experience speaks loud and clear.
This brings us to Weller Full Proof. Although everyone seems to be losing their minds over the brand because it allegedly contains rejected Pappy juice, the blue label tends to get the most love from whiskey reviewers. Further details on Weller Full Proof are fuzzy between the undisclosed mash bill (at least 51% corn and wheat instead of rye) and lack of an age statement. It is consistently bottled at 114 proof, which means it lands comfortably in my preferred 100-120 proof range for neat pours. Thanks to a fellow whiskey enthusiast, I was able to sample this expression. Let’s see how it holds up, shall we?
Nose: Lightly toasted vanilla frosting, orange-citrus and some astringency. Soft walnut, wheat funk, and crop grain. Lightly baked apples begin to creep up. After sipping I get more caramel while the vanilla and fruit notes come across as more developed.
Palate: Vanilla syrup, caramel, orange, and apricot. The proof still lends astringency which makes it feel unbalanced. Also get some grain on the back.
Finish: Moderately lengthy. Orange dreamsicle. Brown sugar and baking spices pop up but seem to stop just shy of coming into their own.
Most barrel proof bourbons I’ve tried tend to avoid coming across as alcohol-forward. Even Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof, both of which will shoot your palate if you’re not careful, manage to avoid coming across as astringent or ethanol-y. I can’t say the same for Weller Full Proof.
This comes across as young and shockingly unbalanced, like the bourbon needs at least two more years in the barrel. The ingredients are certainly there, what with Buffalo Trace’s bakery dessert notes and the presumably uncut nature of Weller Full Proof. Yet the balance simply isn’t there; Weller Full Proof feels off and makes its position as a highly sought-after expression supremely puzzling. The MSRP on this feels appropriate at $50, but considering how rarely I hear people find it for remotely close to that price, I’m not about to give them the benefit of the doubt. A limited release Maker’s Mark will serve you better for less money and frustration.