Buffalo Trace Distillery has launched Daniel Weller, an experimental line that explores the impact of different strains of wheat on bourbon.
This new release honors a forefather of American whiskey, Daniel Weller — grandfather to William Larue Weller.
While William Larue (W.L.) Weller is well known as one of the first to sell a “wheated” bourbon in Kentucky, his grandfather’s story is not as widely shared. After fighting in The Revolutionary War, Daniel took on a flatboat trip down the Ohio River with his wife and children, settling in Kentucky in 1794. Following in his father Johannes Weller’s footsteps, who distilled rye whiskey used as currency in early American barter economy, he soon began producing whiskey and leased his still to proprietors like Jacob Hirsch to supplement his income.
When Daniel passed away in 1807, he left no will, requiring his son Samuel to purchase his stills and equipment to continue the family legacy, which he would ultimately pass down to his son William Larue, founder of W.L. Weller & Sons.
The Daniel Weller experimental line is inspired by Daniel, with plans to release one limited expression every other year, when each experiment is deemed ready for bottling by Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley.
The inaugural release is made with Emmer wheat, a Egyptian grain that’s rarely seen in modern-day stills, the company says, and mainly used to make beer and bread.
“We began this experiment to see how one of the original, long-forgotten wheat strains would taste in our wheated bourbon,” says Wheatley. “We’ve found it offers just a slightly — yet delightfully — different taste that brings us into a new bourbon territory. It will taste like Weller, but with distinct, unique notes that make it stand apart from the other Weller whiskies we’ve released to date.”
The mashbill is not the only variable in this experiment. It was distilled in the E.H. Taylor, Jr. Microstill, which Harlen spent two years custom-designing. A combination pot and column still, the Microstill allows the team to experiment with small batches without interrupting main production capabilities.
Aged for nearly 12 years, Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat comes bottled at 94 proof. The nose is nutty, with notes of orange zest, hazelnut, cinnamon and caramel, the company reports. The palate is a blend of oak, honey and orchard fruits with an oak-forward finish complemented by baking spice and leather notes.
Each release from the Daniel Weller series comes in a clear 750-ml. glass bottle with a compass stopper. Once opened, underneath the stopper, one will find the coordinates pinpointing the location of Daniel’s farm near Botland, KY.
Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat rolls out in limited quantities across the U.S. as of June 2023 at a suggested retail price of $499.99 per 750-ml. bott.e.). It joins the Weller lineup of Weller Special Reserve, Weller Antique 107, Weller 12 Year Old, Weller Full Proof, Weller C.Y.P.B. (“Craft Your Perfect Bourbon”), and Weller Single Barrel as well as William Larue Weller, which is released each fall as part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.