Introduction: The landscape of American whiskey is as varied and lush as the country’s own history, with each brand telling a tale of heritage, craftsmanship, and flavor. Among the venerated labels that have shaped the industry’s legacy, Weller and 1792 stand out for their distinct styles, storied pasts, and contributions to the bourbon pantheon. In this deep dive, we’ll uncork the histories, flavor profiles, and nuances that make both Weller and 1792 bourbon titans in their own right.
The Heritage of Weller Bourbon:
William Larue Weller is a name that resonates with bourbon aficionados as a pioneer who changed the whiskey world forever. In the mid-19th century, Weller made a gamble that would set his whiskey apart—he replaced the traditional rye grain in his mash with wheat. This masterstroke gave birth to what we now know as wheated bourbon, a smoother, softer style that has won the hearts of many.
Weller’s namesake bourbons are produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of Kentucky’s most storied whiskey-making institutions. Buffalo Trace is renowned not just for its age-old traditions but for its resilience, having survived the Prohibition era by obtaining a license to produce medicinal whiskey. Today, Weller’s bourbons carry forth this legacy of perseverance and quality.
The heart of Weller’s lineup is a range of expressions that cater to a variety of palates and preferences. From the Weller Special Reserve, often hailed as an ideal starting point for those new to bourbon, to the highly sought-after Weller 12 Year, the lineup exemplifies the richness that wheated bourbon can offer. Each bottle of Weller tells a story of Kentucky’s climate and craftsmanship, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak that dance on the palate, tempered by the softness that the wheat imparts.
The Making of 1792 Bourbon:
On the other hand, 1792 bourbon, named for the year Kentucky joined the United States, represents a different philosophy in bourbon production. Crafted by the Barton 1792 Distillery, which is part of the Sazerac Company portfolio, this bourbon pays homage to its state’s rich history and the time-honored traditions of American distilling.
1792 bourbons are high-rye whiskies, known for their bold and spicy profile, a marked contrast to the softness of Weller’s wheated offerings. The Barton distillery itself is steeped in tradition, nestled in the heart of Bourbon Country. It’s one of the oldest fully-operating distilleries in the state, with its own unique story of endurance, surviving changing ownerships and market upheavals throughout the years.
The distillery offers a range of 1792 expressions, from the flagship Small Batch, which showcases the brand’s signature style, to limited editions like Full Proof, Single Barrel, and Bottled in Bond, each with its own distinct characteristics. These bourbons are robust, full of rich oak, pepper, and fruit notes, underlined by the sweet warmth that is the hallmark of Kentucky bourbon.
Tasting Notes and Experiences:
The experience of savoring a glass of Weller or 1792 is not just about the flavors, but also about understanding the process and passion behind each bottle. Weller’s lineup, with its wheated mash bill, offers a softer entrance into the whiskey world. The Weller Special Reserve is often noted for its mellow honey and citrus notes, while the Antique 107 adds a layer of spice and depth without overwhelming the senses. The revered Weller 12 Year is a masterpiece of balance and complexity, offering dark fruit notes, a touch of chocolate, and a long, smooth finish.
Moving to 1792, the Small Batch offers a bold rush of rye spice, tempered by sweet notes of toffee and vanilla, making it a perfect choice for those who appreciate a whiskey with a kick. The Full Proof takes this intensity to the next level with its higher proof and concentrated flavors, often earning accolades from those who enjoy a robust, full-bodied sip.
Pairings and Cocktails:
Both Weller and 1792 bourbons are versatile in their own right, playing well with various pairings and cocktails. A neat pour of Weller pairs delightfully with creamy cheeses or a rich, dark chocolate, while 1792’s spicier notes complement the savoriness of smoked meats or the sweetness of a pecan pie.
In the world of cocktails, a Weller Old Fashioned allows the whiskey’s softer notes to blend harmoniously with bitters and sugar, while a 1792 Bourbon Manhattan benefits from the spirit’s boldness, standing up to the sweetness of vermouth with grace.
In the end, choosing between Weller and 1792 bourbon comes down to personal preference and the experience one is seeking. Whether it’s the soft whisper