...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Willett Week: Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Rye 6 years old, Barrel #57

I love Willett rye.  I LOVE Willet rye.  But after five of them in one week, whew......I don't know how Serge does it with his 7-part Caol Ila verticals on a Tuesday, then 6-part Bowmore horizontals on a Wednesday.  Here's how I structured things:

Tasting #1, Sunday night:  4 year old from barrel 82 and 4 year old from barrel 85
Tasting #2, Tuesday night:  5 year old from barrel 38 and 5 year old from barrel 64
Tasting #3, Thursday night: leftovers from Tasting #2 and 6 year old from barrel 57

It's been a whole lotta...

This final Willett rye was from my own bottle that I'd opened this past winter.  I stashed away a sample at the halfway point.  I forgot to take a pic of the sample, but here's the original bottle:

You see that "Distilled in Indiana" at the bottom of the back label.  That's good news for me.

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (formerly Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett Family Estate Single Barrel
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age6 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Barrel: 57
Bottle: 155/204
Alcohol by Volume55%

The color?  Let's just call it Willett brand maple syrup.  The nose holds all things for all people.  First, it's very desserty.  Caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, and cherries.  A rye sundae!  Mango and dried cranberries in there too.  And Cow Tales, the candy.  It's got the spices going on: cloves and cardamom.  It's rocking the barbecue: wood smoke and charred meat.  And -- like most of the other Willetts from this week -- give it 20+ minutes to breathe and a maple syrup note wafts up.  The palate also hits many good spots.  It has the sweets, the sours, brine, and heat, all in balance.  It's a little bready, has lots of cloves, some bubblegum, mint, and cherry-flavored cough syrup.  The dense thick rich finish brings the caramel and sweet cream combo, as well as a lot of fresh fruits (peaches and berries, I think...).  Possibly some rye seeds in there too.

Kristen noted the big alcohol heat.  But she also said the nose reminds her of the cranberry quick bread her church used to set out on Sundays when she was a kid.

This was some good stuff.  There were a number of these 6yos in the stores during Spring 2012.  I haven't seen them since.  With all the good word of mouth the Willett ryes have gotten, KBD may not be able to keep the barrels aging for much longer than 4 years anymore in order to meet demand.  That's not too tragic.  I adore the three and four year old bottlings, but hopefully they have a chance to keep a few barrels going for the extra couple of years.

If I were to give recommendations (I can see your eyes rolling via your webcam), I'd say that the 4 year olds have been reliably awesome in my experience (3 for 3!).  But if you're a fan of big ryes and you see a 6 year old single barrel Willett rye sitting on the shelf for the same price as the 4 year olds, you'd best scoop that up.  And make sure you check out where the rye in that bottle was distilled before laying down the cash.

Best Autumn wishes to everyone!  May you have plenty of whisk(e)y weather.

Availability - Not sure who's still carrying the 6 year, either
Pricing - $35-$40 (East Coast, Midwest), $40-$45 (West Coast)
Rating - 91