Today, I am reviewing a rare release bottled by Willett, their Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye. It also marks my second tandem review with William from A Dram Good Time, in the midst of his very good series on American whiskeys. This particular review is of barrel 79, and it is sourced from Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (the same distillery that sources Bulliet 95). This is a straight rye whiskey, aged 4 years, and bottled at 110 proof. I have reviewed Willett’s standard bourbon Estate Reserve on the site, and talked a little about Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. Generally, KBD sources and bottles whiskey out of the old Willett distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. However, the distillery was rebuilt a few years back, and it is active again. I think we will see some pretty good whiskeys coming out of Willett within the next few years.
For now, we just have sourced whiskeys, but they definitely have a history of being pretty damn good. KBD bottles sourced ryes and bourbons under the Willett label at many different ages, and most of them are bottled at their barrel strength. The Willett rare releases can be pretty hard to find, but they are worth the buy if you can snag a bottle.
On the nose, this whiskey is pure rye, with bold notes of pumpernickel bread, ginger, basil, and some oregano. The nose does have a solid backbone of the dill brine that exemplifies LDI ryes. The palate enters with some sweetness, like honey roasted peanuts or cinnamon sugar. In the back, it gets a little salty and sweet, like sweet gherkin pickles. The finish brings some wonderful heat, but it is balanced with vanilla, caramel, lime juice, and sweet dill mayonnaise (not sure if that exists).
Overall, this is a pretty damn good rye whiskey. It is young enough to maintain a big rye character, but aged enough to make it drinkable and well-rounded. Water doesn’t do it much good in my opinion. It brings out the pickle juice nose, and the whiskey loses some depth at lower proofs. However, like anything else, try one of these Willett ryes for yourself and see what you think. My Grade: B+. Price: $35-40/750ml. For as hard as this one is to find, it is a great value. If you like young ryes, this one is a great buy.
Here are William’s tasting notes and thoughts, and a link to his review.
Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year Review Notes
Color: Amber / Copper
Nose: Vanilla frosting, crushed pine needles, spearmint, mint leaves, and light brown sugar.
Palate: Creamy toffee, vanilla, dill weed, ginger, light cinnamon, slightly bitter oak, again light brown sugar, hints of maple, and mint. Very drinkable, so no water here.
Finish: Long with toffee, spices, and mint – Just lingers along.
Overall this is a pretty well balanced whiskey, but given time in the glass the sweetness really starts to pull up. It also has a great amount of character and cask influence despite its age – Perhaps this is an example of how warehouse location makes a difference. The nose was fabulous, but the palate is what really shined to me – Absolutely great for the price as well.