Weller Full Proof Review [In Depth]

Weller Full Proof Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
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Weller Full Proof Bourbon Details

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 57%

Composition: speculated to be 70% corn, 16% wheat and 14% malted barley

Aged: At least 4 years

Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet, muscan)

Price: $50 MSRP (good luck)

From the company website:

William Larue Weller developed his original bourbon recipe with wheat, rather than rye. Bottled at the same 114 proof the spirit was when it entered into the barrel, this non-chill filtered wheated bourbon forgoes chill filtration to preserve all the naturally occurring residual oils and flavors that occur during the distillation and aging process (potentially making it appear cloudy at cold temperatures). This bourbon balances a rich mouth feel, with robust notes of vanilla and oak. A whiskey that satisfies the demand of the non-chill filtered whiskey enthusiasts, honoring the man who made wheated bourbon legendary.

Weller Full Proof overview

Weller Full Proof – it’s wheated, Weller, high ABV, a quasi-unicorn, and the constant talk of the town. For nearly as long as I’ve been blogging (since 2018), people have been talking about it, chasing it, and showing it off for years. It’s just taken me a while to get this bottle and open it to finally do this review.
I feel like I’m constantly inundated with posts about finding every color of the Weller rainbow. I’ve done my fair share of Weller-related posts (and reviews), but I don’t think I ever posted about finding Weller Full Proof in May 2021. Then again, I didn’t have much time because at the time I was busting my ass to finish packing up before I moved to Japan for a year.
That’s right, I bought it, let it sit for a year while I was in Japan, and then came back to open, enjoy, and review it. Although to be honest, I’d rather have all that old bourbon from the 90’s and before, and the countless bottles of dusty Blanton’s I opened and savored. Nonetheless, I’m still super lucky to have this bottle and share this review, because oh man it’s a challenge to find.
For background, Weller Full Proof is the 2nd highest ABV version of Weller, after William Larue Weller (just without the lofty ~12 year age statement). One thing bothers me though, besides the ridiculous levels of hype around all things Weller (Wellers?).
For decades, there’s been Weller Antique 107 at 107 proof, and it was $25. Fun fact, I compared Weller Antique to a 2015 batch of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, and Maker’s Mark won. In 2019 or something, Buffalo Trace decided to release Full Proof, with a whopping extra 7 proof, and charge $50 (double the price at the time).
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Full Proof is a bit of a vague term that generally means proof of the new make into the barrel, in this case 57%. It’s not the same as cask strength or barrel strength, which means the ABV out of the barrel. I can also confirm that Full Proof is 57% because Buffalo Trace White Dog Wheated Mash is also 57%.
In my mind, the math doesn’t add up. It adds up even less now that they’re both $50. You pay the same amount for a lower ABV? That’s odd, although there seems to be more Weller Antique than Full Proof, so there’s that added scarcity on top of a lot of scarcity to begin with. They could be different ages, although I think that’s unlikely.
Before I get started (soon I promise), reviews of this type of super allocated bourbon are always kind of weird. The review itself sort of doesn’t matter because tons of people will buy it, often for multiples over MSRP, regardless of how it actually drinks. Some do still care about the drinking experience, or at least are interested to learn more as they search / drink it, so I’ll do my best to tell you more about that in this Weller Full Proof review.
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Weller Full Proof smell

Right out of the glass, Weller Full Proof has dark honey and a lot of cinnamon up front, followed by orange and dried cherry, vanilla, roasted oak, dried apricot, clove, and a little grass, bread, and ginger. It’s sweet, fruity, and oaky spicy, orange, cinnamon, and cherry forward, so it smells like wheated bourbon through and through.
It has good richness and body, but nothing really sticks out to me as amazing so I’m not quite sure that I’d call it complex. The main thought I have is, “yup this smells like fruit-forward wheated bourbon”.
After swirling and 9 minutes of rest (I’ve been in the habit of timing this, as neurotic as it sounds), the scents become way more ginger-forward. It feels Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel-esque with that gingery and cardamom-y sweetness.
The flavors have gingery-honey, orange and orange preserves, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, dried apricot and cherry, roasted oak, slight fresh cherry tartness, freshly baked honey bread that’s a nice brown crust, and biscuit. It’s a really nice fruity and spicy expression of wheated bourbon.
The boosted fruit and ginger makes this smell better than it did the first time with extra richness. The slight drawback, if you can call it that, is that the variety and complexity aren’t all there, but nonetheless it smells fantastic. I still have to make the point that Weller Full Proof doesn’t like some super duper impressive bourbon that meets the hype based on how it smells.
Then again, I try to keep hype out of how I evaluate and rate whiskeys. And in that dimension, it smells great and I dig the fruitiness layered on top of the spice that I can’t help but appreciate.

Weller Full Proof taste and aftertaste

My first sip of Weller Full Proof packs a lot of spicy sweetness – dark honey, vanilla, orange, apricot, cinnamon, roasted oak, slight sourness / tartness and gumminess, and clove. The a solid layer of sweetness and fruitiness on top of of the oak spices with a noticeable but not overpowering sourness and gumminess, and it’s not the first time I’ve gotten gumminess and sourness in a wheated bourbon. I guess it’s a wheated bourbon thing.
So far, the density is good, so the “full” ABV helps deliver that. At the same time, there’s not a ton of range or complexity, but I still enjoy what’s there.
After “chewing”, I again get this spicy sweetness with honey, cinnamon, clove, dried orange and cherry, roasted oak, dried grass, heavily toasted bread crust, hint of caramel nougat under there, and something a little bitter as if the bread crust was a little burnt.
The jostling unlocks more complexity and range, especially a bigger orange and cherry pop and a little more dark sweetness. As expected from a wheated bourbon, oak spices are prevalent, but the extra fruitiness brings a fun twist that I absolutely enjoy.
The aftertaste starts with honey, cinnamon, clove, dried orange, cherry tartness, roasted oak, and dried grass with lingering oak spices and dried orange like you ate some of the white inside the rind. “Chewing” leaves roasted honey, cinnamon, clove, and dried orange peel with the slightly bitter white part.
There’s a little more sticky gumminess this time, which could be the wheat and/or non chill filtration (although I think it’s chill filtered), and fresh cherry tartness that lasts longer. It almost feels a little rye-like.
The extra body and viscosity, a marked improvement over the first sip, also brings me around to believing that this is an excellent-tasting bourbon to savor. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a great fruity twist on the existing formula. Ok Weller Full Proof, you have my attention and I taste what you’re doing here.

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Weller Full Proof Rating

Top Shelf
Oh boy, Weller Full Proof is tough to rate. I went back and forth on whether “Top Shelf” felt right…and ultimately I landed on yes. I’m comfortable with that decision because it is actually that good. At first, I felt that it was very good but not quite impressive enough, a higher-ABV wheated bourbon (a good thing) but without anything pop or special feeling.
The fruitiness and spice are noteworthy (and I often find Buffalo Trace bourbon to be more fruit-forward), but it stays inside the lines of what I think a wheated bourbon tends to be. That’s one side of the story because you already know this is “Top Shelf”, so bear with me as I explain why.
Swirling and “chewing” crank up everything and push it over the hump. The extra agitation opens more fruity orange and cherry pop, darker sweetness, and unlocks a little more body that finally gives me enough substance to work with. That extra ooph and richness make all the difference and get me to really appreciate Weller Full Proof’s merits, away from all the hype.
And it is really good, even a pleasant surprise. To be honest though, without that added pep in its step, it likely would have landed as a very strong “Mid Shelf+”, borderline “Top Shelf”. Like I said, reviewing this one was a bit messy.
With reviews of Weller Full Proof and 12 Year under my belt, I’m starting to understand the allure of “Poor Man’s Pappy”. While I have Full Proof instead of the 107 proof Antique, I think the more dense and fruity Weller Full Proof may be an amazing complement to the darker and more chocolatey Weller 12 Year. The marriage will probably be beautiful. I’ll be trying that one out for myself to see what ratio of the two might lead to the best result.
Let me clear though, Weller Full Proof is a great buy at $50 but doesn’t come remotely close to matching the hype. I might even go as far to say that it would be worth upwards of $150 given the lack of amazing cask strength wheated bourbon.
When I first started The Whiskey Shelf, I compared Weller Antique 107 (still with the twist top) to a 2015 batch of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. Maker’s Mark won and it wasn’t that close. This was 2018, so I was blissfully unaware of the growing hype. I mention that because I think that the hype-free and borderline hipster-level Maker’s Mark Cask Strength of today would fare well against Weller Full Proof. I’m not claiming it’s going to win, but Weller Full Proof probably won’t blow it out.
At the end of the day, Weller Full Proof has enough substance behind it to be worthy of some acclaim, but is still a victim of the Buffalo Trace hype machine that raises it up far more than it truly deserves. It’s a fantastic bourbon for $50 though, so props to Buffalo Trace for making a great wheated bourbon.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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