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Weller Special Reserve vs Buffalo Trace Bourbon: 2023 Guide

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Weller Special Reserve and Buffalo Trace are well-loved by many because both bourbons come from Buffalo Trace Distillery.  

But is it the Buffalo Trace hype, or do their premium qualities make them difficult to find? Which bourbon has the better value for money?

Here’s an in-depth comparison of Weller Special Reserve vs Buffalo Trace to help you decide which bottle you should grab. 

Comparing Buffalo Trace & Weller Special Reserve 

Weller Special Reserve and Buffalo Trace Bottles

Buffalo Trace is a traditional bourbon whiskey with rye as a secondary grain, while Weller Special Reserve uses wheat as its flavoring grain. 

Buffalo Trace is the flagship bourbon, and it was released in 1999, but the Weller Special Reserve was initially released in 1991. 

Buffalo Trace and Weller Special Reserve share similar distiller and parent companies but do not share the same recipe.

In addition, Buffalo Trace is cheaper compared to Weller Special Reserve. 

Main Differences 

Origin

Buffalo Trace was initially released in 1999 as the new flagship bourbon of Buffalo Trace Distillery after it was renovated and rechristened. 

On the other hand, before Weller bottlings became part of the brand, it was part of the Weller Line crafted by William Larue Weller in Stitzel-Weller. 

After the Sazerac Company bought the Weller brand in 1999, they started to produce the Weller Special Reserve and other W.L. Weller Collections. 

Production & Maturation 

Distillery

The bourbons do not share a similar mash bill ratio and recipe, so they do not have similar tasting notes. 

The BT starts with a fermented proprietary mash bill; then, it is twice distilled and aged in new charred oak barrels for around eight to ten years before bottling at 90 proof. 

The Weller Special Reserve mash bills are cooked, fermented, and distilled at the distillery.

It is then matured in new charred oak barrels for around four to seven years before bottling. 

Traditional vs Wheated Bourbon 

BT is a traditional bourbon whiskey made from corn, malted barley, and less than 10% rye on its mash bill [1]. 

On the contrary, Weller Special Reserve is a wheated bourbon, and instead of rye, the bourbon uses wheat as its secondary grain. 

The Weller Special Reserve is reputed to be smoother and sweeter because of its mash bill.

In addition, the Weller Special Reserve shares a similar mash bill with Pappy Van Winkle bourbons [2]. 

Tasting Notes

Buffalo Trace

Palate: Pleasantly sweet, with rich notes of spice, oak, dark fruit, toffee, anise, caramel, and vanilla

Nose: Complex aroma of caramel, vanilla, mint, and molasses

Color: Deep amber

Finish: Smooth, long, with serious depth

Weller Special Reserve

Weller Special Reserve Bourbon Bottle

Palate: Smooth with remarkable notes of butterscotch, honey, caramel, woodiness, cinnamon, dark chocolate, vanilla, and a dash of citrus  

Nose: Sweet with rich notes of caramel, vanilla, and honey

Color: Burnt orange

Finish: Smooth finish with honeysuckle flair and lasting flavors of cinnamon and oak spice 

Availability

In general, the availability of both bourbons varies by region. In some areas, you can easily find them on the shelf.

However, we often find them difficult to find because of their steady production yet high demand.

Special Reserve and BT are often out of stock, but Weller Special Reserve is usually available in limited quantities. 

Buffalo Trace is also hard to find, but unlike Weller Special Reserve, once the liquor store receives the stocks, they put them on their shelves.

Value & Quality

Woman Holding Bottle of Buffalo Trace

Weller Special Reserve and Buffalo Trace have great value for money, but Buffalo Trace has a better value.

Buffalo Trace has earned a gold medal in the 2022 LA Global Spirits Award. 

“We focus on delivering authentic products that consumers can have confidence in while balancing innovation with tradition. We deliver a variety of flavors to appeal to our customers’ range of tastes,”

Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller of Buffalo Trace 

Weller Special Reserve has amazing tasting notes and premium quality for its price, but Buffalo Trace has a greater value, given its price point. 

Price Point

Buffalo Trace is cheaper than Weller Special Reserve. Based on Drizly online, Buffalo Trace bourbon costs around $34.99, while Weller Special Reserve bourbon is shy of $64.99. 

Buffalo Trace is a good entry-level bourbon for its price and tasting notes.

It is versatile and can be consumed neat, on the rocks, and in cocktails. 

Weller Special Reserve has amazing taste and aroma; however, with its price point and high demand, you may consider other BT juices like EH Taylor.

FAQs

Is Weller Special Reserve smoother than Buffalo Trace bourbon?

Yes, Weller Special Reserve is smoother than Buffalo Trace bourbon. Wheated spirits tend to be smoother than those that use rye as the second grain behind corn. 

Which is better sipped neat, Buffalo Trace or Weller Special Reserve?

Weller Special Reserve is better sipped neat than Buffalo Trace because of its flavoring grain that helps the spirit taste sweeter and smoother.  

Final Say 

Buffalo Trace has better value for money than Weller Special Reserve. 

Buffalo Trace is nicely priced, and this traditional bourbon has a complex flavor with hints of pepper and spice to the spirit. 

Weller Special Reserve has remarkable smoothness, flavors, and nose, but Buffalo Trace will be a great choice over Special Reserve for its price and availability. 

References:

  1. https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey/buffalo-trace-bourbon-rye-buying-guide-prices-brands-value/#eagle-rare 
  2. https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a565890/weller-full-proof-bourbon-whiskey/ 

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