Willett. If you are a fan of American Whiskey, you've probably heard this name.
It doesn't matter if you're a relative newcomer impressed with the distinctive still-shaped bottle of the Willett Pot Still Reserve or a seasoned veteran of the whiskey world who has found a love for the understatedly elegant label of the Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel series. Once you learn of Willett, they are someone that you keep an eye on.
Until relatively recently, Willett wasn't a distiller. They were what has come to be called a Non-Distiller Producer (NDP) And no, contrary to what you might read, this isn't a bad thing. When they are honest about it, NDPs provide a nice service by bringing to light excess bourbon that might otherwise just be blended away. In the case of Willett, they buy whiskey, age it until ready and sell it to us. This is basically humanitarianism at it’s best.
I say Willett wasn't a distillery because in addition to their amazing ability consistently find/buy/age products that are some of the best on huge market, they now distill their own as well. But that is a topic for a future post. Suffice it to say for now they the people in charge of Willett have some of the best palates in the business and every time I see one of their Family Estate Bottled products I stop, look, walk past, turn around, look some more and almost always end up buying one.
Recently, I finished a bottle of 13 year Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon that a friend brought back for me from the distillery gift shop. It was…well, let’s just see how it was.
Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon
Purchase info: ~$120-130 for a 750 mL at the Distillery Gift Shop.
Details: 61% ABV, 13 years old, Barrel #383, Purple foil on the neck.
Nose: Silage/corn initially with hints of pickle. After sitting a bit: warm peach cobbler and caramel.
Mouth: Sweet and tingly. Baked apple with cinnamon. Hints of hot chocolate. Strong oak.
Finish: long and hot. Cinnamon, hot cocoa and lingering oak.
Thoughts: I love this. It is easily in the conversation for a top five bourbon for me. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s exactly what I look for in a bourbon. Here’s my advice to you. If you visit Willett, just buy the most expensive bottle you can afford, but don’t feel bad about not buying a more expensive one. I’ve liked every one I’ve gotten there no matter what I’ve spent and have never regretted the purchase.