Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Death of the Age Statement

Before you read this blog first understand I'm peeved so you understand my frame of mind. A good bourbon friend was killed off and I'm not too happy about it and I'm not alone. In the bourbon circles I run in, there are many that are none too happy over the passing of Old Weller Antique, a 7 year 107 proof bourbon. This particular bourbon is a wheated bourbon and is one of the best value bourbons out there….or at least it was. For some inane reason Buffalo Trace has decided to drop the 7 year age statement from this label. It was mentioned by someone on one of the bourbon boards that they had it on good authority from a BT rep that the juice was not going to change. With all due respect, HORSE PUCKY! What other reason on Gods green earth would BT remove the age statement if not to prepare for the age reduction of the bourbon in the bottle. Sorry, this line of thought isn't a stretch but a common sense conclusion. The reason this particular change is painful is because BT has pulled some favorite labels off the shelves in recent years and this is just one more step in the wrong direction. As I stated on BourbonEnthusiast.com "I've had more disappointments over the last couple of years than gratification of a new product." As I just mentioned some good labels have been removed by Buffalo Trace such as:
  1. Old Charter Proprietors Reserve – A 13 year 90 proof bourbon that was and still is quite popular among enthusiasts
  2. Old Charter "The Classic" 90 – Another great bourbon at 12 years old and 90 proof.
  3. Weller Centennial – A 10 year old 100 proof wheat bourbon.
  4. Eagle Rare 101 – Another 10 year old 101 proof bourbon that was quite popular when removed from the shelves and is now highly sought after by enthusiasts
Each one of these bourbons, if found, make it home to my bunker. Not because they are not available anymore but because they are great bourbons at price points, when sold, were reasonable. For instance, I found a half dozen or so bottles of Old Charter Classic 90 a few months back while dusty hunting and paid $10.50 each for them. A great bourbon at a great price. Now, I'm not a complete imbecile and understand that offering a 12 year old bourbon for that price is kind of crazy. I wouldn't be at all upset if BT raised the price of that bourbon, it would be fair and reasonable for them to do so. But to lift it completely from the shelves was stupid (it's my blog, I'm entitled to my opinion).
I'm thankful I have a dozen bottles of Old Weller Antique residing in my bunker but now I'll be on the "hunt" for this label in order to continue the enjoyment of this great bourbon for years to come. Let me segue to a related topic and that is of wheat vs. rye bourbon and why it relates to what I've discussed above. As a general rule, rye bourbon can sit for less time in the barrel than wheat and be a great bourbon or rye whiskey (e.g. Thomas H. Handy). A younger wheat bourbon is going to taste young and will probably have some rough edges. A more aged wheat bourbon will exhibit a more robust flavor profile. The Old Weller Antique at 7 years was a good age. I have an Old Weller Antique that is 9 years old and the difference is noticeable over the 7 year as the extra age brings out more of the flavors found in the 7 year. I think going younger than 7 years runs the risk of moving this bourbon to the lower shelf rather than mid shelf. Here are some examples of well aged wheat bourbons; Old Rip Van Winkle 10/107, Old Weller Antique 7/107, Weller 12/90, Van Winkle Family Reserve Lot B and Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr. As a friend of mine pointed out recently, watch out for Old Rip Van Winkle, that will probably be next to go. I'm thinking the same thing.
All I can do about this change is kick the dirt and whine in this forum, so there you go. Good bye OWA 7 year and hello OWA NAS (no age statement) and thanks for nothing Buffalo Trace.


  1. Thanks for nothing Buffalo Trace! Sad to see the list of all those labels they killed; OCPR, OC12, Centennial, and ER101. I could have only those four bourbons the rest of my life and be content! The later versions of Weller Antique I've had weren't spectacular (to my taste buds), but nonetheless it's sad for me to see them continue their evil ways with no conscience whatsoever. Perhaps they're hoping all the bourbon dorks will let it slide and continue buying and hyping the 'Antique Collection' at $60/bottle- but I for one am seriously considering boycotting this years release. I'd sure miss my Stagg and wLw barrel proofs, but not as much as I miss ER101!

  2. It seems that everything with a bit of age on it in the bourbon world is at a high price these days and I fear they will only get higher. With that said, I ran into 5 bottles of old charter 12 today and bought them all.

    1. Donnie - The Classic 90 is a good find, well done. I've managed to bunker 4 or 5 12 years OC's over the last couple of years. If you ever run across Old Charter Proprietors Reserve (OCPR), a 13 year, grab it, especially if it's the slope should vs the english bottle.