If you have any interest in bourbon whiskey, you’ve probably heard the name Buffalo Trace. Even if you only know the brand from its $20 baseline bourbon expression — featuring a strutting, majestic bison on the label — you probably also know that the distillery is widely known for quality. What you may not know, is that besides its namesake brand it produces such award-winning standouts as Pappy Van Winkle, E.H. Taylor, Eagle Rare, and Weller.
As if this famed distillery needed any more accolades, it was recently honored again. This time by the 2021 World Whiskies Awards when its W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. was not only named “Best Kentucky Bourbon” but also “Category Winner.” Meaning that in a field that’s flooded with iconic, high-quality, long-aged, hard-to-find, rare bottlings, W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. beat the competition not once, but twice.
Here are our tasting notes on this World Whiskies Awards winner.
Price: MSRP $50 (Sells for upwards of $800)
C.Y.P.B. stands for “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon” — as this bourbon was literally created by fans of Weller.
It all began back in 2015, when Buffalo Trace launched a website where bourbon fans could log on and design the flavors, characteristics, production methods, proof, and aging they’d like used to create their “perfect bourbon.” The distillery even let fans choose the warehouse that the juice would be matured in. More than 100,000 people chimed in with opinions.
What they voted for is what we now know as Weller C.Y.P.B., a limited-edition wheated bourbon that was aged in the highest floors of the Buffalo Trace rickhouse for eight years before being bottled at a potent 95 proof.
When it hit first hit shelves in 2018 (2020 is the third release), the suggested retail price for this expression was an easy-to-stomach $40. Not bad for a whiskey designed from start to finish to fit the tastes of a rabid bourbon fanbase. Sadly, since this is a limited-edition expression (and a Weller) that same fan base has driven the price to $500, $800, and even higher.
This is a theme in the bourbon world. If you want a limited edition bottling, you’d better be ready to pay the equivalent of a mortgage payment to get it.
A whiskey like this deserves a proper nosing before taking a sip. Crack it open and take a few whiffs. If you do, you’ll be treated to aromas of zesty dried orange peels, rich charred oak, sweet cream, and subtle cinnamon sugar. The palate is filled with the flavors of sun-dried leather, pipe tobacco, buttery caramel, allspice, and creamy vanilla. The finish is long, filled with pleasing heat, and ends with a mix of cinnamon and almond cookies.
Sure, this bourbon is listed for $40, but unless you are friends with a liquor store owner, you’re going to pay a lot more to get your hands on this bottle. It’s a high-quality whiskey, but you have to decide if it’s worth spending an exorbitant fee to get it.
Speaking personally, $300 is often my max-out for bourbon whiskey. I’d gladly pay that for this bottle, but even at that rate, the chances of tracking one down are scarce.