Weller 12-year could be the next Pappy Van Winkle elite bourbon

Somehow, we’re still talking about Pappy Van Winkle, the apparently never-ending unicorn of all unicorn bourbons, the headline-grabbing whiskey that gives people like me an equally never-ending supply of stories.

The thing is, whether we roll our eyes and sigh at Pappy chasers, or like the stuff and are willing to pony up big bucks for it, it’s about as impossible to find as an actual unicorn. So what are bourbon enthusiasts seeking the elusive stuff to do? Why, declare something else a poor man’s Pappy, or the next Pappy, or whatever title is the snazziest.

Of late, Weller 12-Year has been popping up in these comparisons. 

I wanted to know why — and whether anyone really wants or needs a runner-up — so I reached out to an expert. Beverage writer and consultant Forrest Price is the former whiskey advisor at the celebrated Jack Rose Dining Saloon in D.C. and designed the whiskey program at Doc’s Bourbon Room (a short-lived spot that opened right before COVID shut everything down) and he was happy to share some insights. 

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