(Unnecessary Disclaimer: I don’t think it’s fair to review something I’ve only tried once, so I’ll post First Impressions instead of Reviews until I’ve had time to properly try something multiple times).
There is a phrase that bourbonites say when they drink really strong stuff, the phrase is, “it burns a little”. I thought that sounded really cool. It burns a little. I can handle a little burn now and then, I’m a big boy. Plus all I ever hear about from the big bourbonites is barrel proof, cask strength, put-hair-on-your-chest type bourbons that are the new craze. EH Taylor Barrel Proof, Elijah Craig barrel proof, Four Roses barrel proof, barrel proof this, Cask Strength that, if I want to hang with the big boys of bourbon land, I must learn to drink with them. And there I was at a steakhouse in Atlanta when my waiter stated, “we just got William Larue Weller in. It’s 140 proof and only $12 a glass”. “Damn!!” I thought, as I reached down to pull up my big boy britches.
And what a meal that had been up to that point. We were at Chops Steakhouse in Atlanta. I had consumed an amazing steak, a ridiculous spinach salad (made at the table no less), and thrown back 2 really awesome Manhattans, both of which were served with a delicious piece of smoked bacon btw). And then I asked for the bourbon menu. “We do not have a bourbon menu….but let me tell you about something special…” said the waiter. Then he told me about the WLW. It was a no-brainer. Feeling like I have become a boss in my 2 months of bourboning, I asked for it neat with a second glass with a few ice cubes.
The glass arrived and I will admit it’s a pretty color. A darker amber, nice looking consistency. It also had a nice nose to it, it smelled like caramel and also like a nice wood fire. I decided to try a sip neat. It hit my tongue and my throat and I waited for some sort of flavor. Instead, all I got was a brief searing pain. I sat with my mouth open as I contemplated the damage I had just done to my nerve endings. It’s the same sensation I used to get with Listerine if I hadn’t used it in awhile. I threw in 2 ice cubes and gave it a few minutes. Then I took another sip. Nothing changed. It is as if I had just swallowed a mixture of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, and mercurochrome. Mercurochrome was this stuff my grandmother used to have. It was bright red and she would put it on cuts and scrapes. As little boys do, I had the dumb idea of putting that stuff on my lips one day. Not only were they bright red, but I got the taste of it too. And it wasn’t good. Perhaps the Mercury in it wasn’t meant for human bodies….who knows.
I continued to add more ice and let it melt. And again I tried to drink it. My last sip wasn’t too bad I guess. I got nice hints of leather, oak, honey, and something…..[suddenly interrupted by a blast of acid reflux]. Forget how it felt going down, the brief reflux I had was the worst burning sensation I can ever remember in my throat. It is as if the 140 proof quickly aged in my stomach and exploded back up in a fiery volcanic rage. The big bang theory was just proven to be true within the means of my esophagus. I mean no water, no left over bread pudding, nothing could help the charring on the back of my throat. In fact, as I finish this almost 14 hours later, it’s still not normal again. William Larue Weller and a bone-in Ribeye were the catalysts for the creation of our universe. Who knew?
Now to be honest, there is a reason this juice is so highly spoken of. Had I properly had time to water it down to the right level, I bet it’s really good stuff. That’s why I won’t call this a review, and also I will try it again at some point. My experience was bad, but I really have to blame myself for it. I will rise again one day and conquer the William Larue Weller. Until then, I’ll stick with the 80-90 proof stuff, especially after a big meal, and leave my underoos on for now.