Monday, March 8, 2010

A weekend with Stitzel Weller

I was so looking forward to this last weekend for two reasons. First, it was going to be near 60 degrees. This is significant because we've had one heck of a winter around Washington D.C. with lots of cold temperatures and loads of snow. Second, I was attending a tasting with a group of like minded bourbon dorks to enjoy a lineup of Stitzel Weller bourbons and its close cousins. Those who know Stitzel Weller bourbon understand that this is a bourbon made with wheat instead of rye which tends to give it a lighter, sweeter profile. They also know that Stitzel Weller has been out of production since 1992 so all the bottles on the table represented bourbon far out of production.

On the table we had around 30 plus bottles. Now, not all of them were Stitzel Weller which is why I said "cousins" as this represents bourbons like Weller Centennial, a wheated bourbon 10 years old at 100 proof, Old Weller Antique without the age statement at 107 proof, and so on. Over the course of about 5 hours, we leisurely sipped away at bourbons that spanned five decades, the oldest bottle being Very Very Old Fitzgerald, 12 year old at 100 proof from the 60's. There wasn't one that I tried that I didn't like in some capacity, of course my favorite being the VVOF. We also had an Old Rip Van Winkle from Lawrenceburg along with a Van Winkle Family Reserve 17 year old Japan release that actually wasn't a wheated bourbon but a rye. The interesting thing about this lineup was that while most of the bottles came from the same distillery, using pretty much the same recipe, the variances in smell, taste and complexity were noticeable.

I love Stitzel Weller bourbon and am sad it's no longer around but appreciate the fact that I have some in the bunker to keep me happy even for a limited time.

23 comments:

  1. Wish I could have joined you! I have some 60s era Old Rip Van Winkle and Old Cabin Still I would have shared.

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  2. That sounds like nice weekend. In keeping with your S-W Weekend I am having a Wheater weekend coming up. Sadly nothing as nice as your spread but sampling a few wheaters none the less.

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  3. Dan - Nothing wrong with that. I'm just glad some folks have some really great bottles and appreciate their generosity. You'll have to come back up for our next gathering.

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  4. I'm headed to a party today where everything must be made with whiskey. All the food, drinks, and desserts have to contain whiskey, and some of the booze will be homemade.

    A good diversion on a very rainy day!

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  5. I'm a big wheated bourbon guy as well. I am pretty new to bourbon drinking but was lucky enough to stumble upon the Weller 107 and I love it. I have heard that the Van Winkle that is 21 or 23 years old (I forget which it is) is still Stitzel Weller. At near $200 a bottle from our state stores, I keep debating whether to get it or not. I bought a modern day bottle of Cabin Still off the shelf the other day. I guess it's a Heaven Hill product now. For $8.50 for a liter, it wasn't too bad. I can only imagine how awesome it used to be!

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  6. The Weller 107 is a good bourbon, especially the age stated versions. The newest release has no age statement. Try and find bottles that date back '05 and before. The Pappy Van Winkle you mentioned comes in three offerings; 15, 20 and 23 year. If you're looking for something Stitzel Weller, try and find the Jeffersons Presidential Reserve 17 yr, it goes for about $80 or so in most markets. The bourbon in those bottles is the result of a 212 barrel dump and then bottled. It's good whiskey but I've certainly had better examples of SW whiskey. I have Cabin Still dating back to the early 80's and it's a good, decent bourbon, again from SW. That was their value bourbon but even so, a worthy pour.

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  7. I've been a Weller 107 guy since I first tried Weller on a trip to Kentucky. I still have two bottles of 7 year old 107 including one in a velvet bag with gold drizzle on the bottle. Hard to get here and I have to order it thru the local ABC store. Envy you the chance to try some older wheated bourbons in the same family line

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  8. If you have an OWA with the gold vein in the glass, that's a keeper. The older GV bottles are very very good.

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  9. Is the Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old still Stitzel-Weller? The state store outside Reading, PA has a bottle for $90 and a bottle of the 23 year old (I am assuming this is S-W as well?) for $130.

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  10. While I can't say for certain, I personally believe it is. Doing simple math, 20 year old in 2010 would put distillation at 1990. SW didn't shut down until a couple years after that.

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  11. Question for whomever may know. I was just given a gold veined bottle of Old Weller 107 barrel Proof. It does NOT say Antique on it and is still sealed. My grandmother bought it in the late 1950's. I still have all tags and papers that came with the bottle. I am not finding much information on the bottle since it is an original, before the ownership change in the 1960's. Does anyone know much on this?

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  12. The bottle you have obviously pre-dates the Antique version. The bourbon is from the Stitzel Weller distillery which changed hands in 1972. If your bottle says Stitzel Weller then it dates prior to '72, if it says Old Fitzgerald then after. The bourbon in that bottle is highly sought after and is a great example of a bourbon made with wheat vs. rye as the flavoring grain. What specifically would you like to know? There's really not much info out there on this particular release.

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  13. Greg, we recently visited friends who pulled a bottle from an old family bar that was Weller's Antique Reserve 110 barrel proof 10 years old with all the gold veining. It's not open but has lost an ounce or three to Angel's Share. I'm thinking it's from the 50's. I can't find much info about it. Thanks.

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  14. Rocker - too bad the bottle wasn't open. That bourbon would probably be some of the best you would ever try. The older Weller's were of course Stitzel Weller and having it at 110 pf and 10 yrs old is fantastic. No seal is perfect and some loss is indicative of older bottles. As long as the level isn't too low (and it sounds like it's not), the bourbon should still be very very good. If the loss becomes too pronounced, oxidation can set in and turn the bourbon over time.

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  15. Just finished my 4/5 qt. of "REBEL YELL" 90 proof Southern Sour Mash and will remember every sip of it forever.

    Bob B
    Tucson

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  16. Bob - that's some good bourbon. I had a similar bottle a couple years ago and I'm still sad it's gone. Thankfully, I have other similar bourbons as replacements.

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  17. I just finished a bottle of Weller's Antique Reserve Ten Year 110 Proof with several friends as we sat around a fire pit watching Monday Night Football. We all commented that it was the best bourbon any of us had ever had. It was a bottle that my grandfather never drank. He probably bought it back 50 years ago. On the neck of the bottle, it indicated that it was "Bottled expressly for N.P. Hayes" Where can I find more of this great bourbon, or what would be the most like it?

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  18. Nathayes - Well congratulations. You just polished off a supreme example of old school bourbon. They don't make it like that anymore so in answer to your question.....no, you can't find anymore unless you happen to find the rare bottle on Ebay selling for $250. That particular bottle came from the Stitzel Weller distillery; no longer in operation. I hope you toasted your Grandfather while enjoying that bottle. There is one expression that's in the neighborhood of taste profile and quality; Pappy Van Winkle 15 year. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to find.

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  19. This Forum has been very insightful. I have a sealed gold vein bottle of 110 proof Stitzel Weller Antique Reserve that I plan on selling, Thanks for the info.

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  20. i have an unopened bottle of Snitzel Weller, 100 proof, 10 year old bourbon , barreled in 1958, bottled in 1968, it has a registered foil seal, the label says Very eXtra Old, also says for connoisseurs of fine bourbon. anybody have any idea what it might be worth, and or anybody interested in it
    ?

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    1. Chris,

      Stitzel Weller VOF/VVOF from that era is highly sought after. I know in the secondary market (gray market), that bottle can run as high as mid $2,000.

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  21. I have a bottle of Old Cabin Still in the Ducks Unlimited decanter from 1972. What is the value?

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    1. If the bottling year is correct, that would be Stitzel Weller and the label should indicate the same. Assuming the bourbon is 4 years old (w/o seeing the label), distillation would have been around 1968. As for value.....I really would be just guessing. I would wag the value at around $200-$300. Cabin Still was the value brand at SW so not sure it would command the same price as say Old Fitzgerald or VOF from the same timeframe.

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