February 14, 2019
Wheated bourbons are all the rage, fueled by the insane demand for anything Pappy Van Winkle (e.g., Van Winkle 12 Special Reserve) and Weller. Outside of those two brands, there are other very interesting and high quality “wheaters” to try from brands such as Rebel Yell (Luxco), Larceny (Heaven Hill), and Maker’s Mark. Maker’s Mark is an interesting case because it’s one of the world’s largest and well-known producers of wheated bourbons (in fact it only produces wheated bourbons) but without much of the attached hype.
I’ve previously reviewed Buffalo Trace’s standard Weller Antique 107 (Mid Shelf+) and Maker’s Mark Cask Strength 15-05 (Top Shelf), but never did a comparison between the two. When I reviewed Weller Antique 107, it was a steal at ~$25 MSRP ($100+ secondary). With the 2019 price increase to around $50, comparable to Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, it felt like the right time to do a side-by-side wheated bourbon comparison to see how the Weller held up to comparably priced but less hyped competition.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each wheated bourbon. On paper, they look very similar
How to Read the Chart
Weller Antique 107 is in blue, and Maker’s Mark is in orange. The center of the circle indicates none of a trait. Further out the line indicates a stronger presence of that trait.
The scale (from inside to out):
While Maker’s Mark Cask Strength isn’t as desirable as Weller 107, this side-by-side confirms for me that Maker’s Mark is superior. It’s a richer and more complex wheated bourbon full of sweet honey, maple syrup, and sorghum syrup, as well as fruits, spices, and pecans. It’s a deep and rich root beer or pecan pie. While Antique Weller has sweet cola-y cherries, honey, sugar, and a lot of spice, it’s thin and falls noticeably short in comparison. It’s still very good, but the value proposition is very different at $50 than at $25 (although I can’t speak to store picks).
If you like Weller Antique 107, you will probably also really like Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. The main difference is that you can buy Maker’s Mark pretty much everywhere, while you probably have to search far and wide to even have a chance to buy the Weller 107, let alone at MSRP. The price increase makes it so much easier to compare to Maker’s Mark. If you can, try both and decide for yourself.