Buffalo Trace just unveiled a new ultra-luxury whiskey—and we got a first taste

buffalo taste whiskey

Weller Millennium is poised to be a unicorn

Once upon a time W.L. Weller was an affordable bourbon that was easy to find, but those days are mostly gone. Blame the whiskey fans who started calling it the “poor man’s Pappy” about a decade ago, after realising the two brands were made from the same wheated mashbill after Pappy production shifted to the Buffalo Trace Distillery. At a lavish event at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York’s Hudson Valley region last night, Buffalo Trace unveiled the latest expression to join the Weller lineup, and it’s one that will certainly become an instant collector’s item: Weller Millennium, a blend of whiskeys aged up to nearly 25 years that costs US$7,500.

Interestingly, Millennium is not a bourbon, but a blend of straight whiskeys—specifically wheated bourbon that defines the Weller brand combined with wheat whiskeys, all of which were distilled near the turn of the millennium (hence, the name) after everyone cooled off from Y2K panic. The exact years these whiskeys were distilled were 2000 (three percent of the blend), 2003 (50 percent), 2005 (40 percent), and 2006 (seven percent), making the eldest whiskey in the bottle 24 years old.

The wheated bourbon was distilled from the same mashbill as regular Weller, while the wheat whiskeys contain at least 51 percent wheat in the mashbill, although master distiller Harlan Wheatley declined to give specifics. “We often hold back small lots of barrels to continue aging beyond our typical brand standards in hope that this aging experimentation will result in a particularly well-balanced, matured whiskey,” he said in a statement. “In this case, we found the whiskey distilled in 2000 to show incredible balance and asked ourselves how wheat would perform as an ultra-aged spirit. It’s proven to be an impeccable backbone to this expression, allowing us to showcase wheat’s versatility and innovate beyond traditional wheated bourbon.”

I got to try a small sample of Weller Millennium last night, along with most of the other Weller expressions to see how it compares, and this truly is a unique luxury whiskey that has its own identity. The whiskey, bottled at a high 99 proof, is almost like an older scotch, with unusually prominent (for American whiskey) notes of tropical fruit on the palate. These are complemented by other fruits like cherry and grape, along with a healthy dollop of dusty leather, tobacco, and dark chocolate. Oak and caramel intermingle on the finish, but the whiskey isn’t overly tannic. Again, this is a very different whiskey from the rest of the Weller lineup—as it should be, given that it’s not a blend with much older whiskey—but that’s a good thing, and it tastes appropriately old without falling into overly oaky territory.

Of course, an expensive whiskey like this has to come with some high-end packaging, and Buffalo Trace did not disappoint here. The crystal decanter comes housed inside a white box with an illuminated display inside. Each bottle has a custom-made topper with an etching of the “W” stamp that Mr. William Larue Weller himself is said to have used to indicate his approval. And on the bottom of the case you’ll find the percentages listed of each vintage used in the blend.

This is, of course, a very limited release that will likely soar above its already hefty asking price on the secondary market, but bottles should start to become available this month.

Buffalo Trace Distillery

This story first appeared on Robb Report USA