Thursday, April 27, 2023

Review: Willett Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye

Color (5%):  Medium amber, dark honey, hay hues. medium thinning at the edges. 3/5

Nose (10%):  You can smell this one from 5 feet away. It is potent and the rye is sharp. There are notes of pine and a good amount of oak. crisp caramel sugars dance with apple and toffee. The rye is there and you do get some of that deli rye bread scent. 8/10

Palate (20%): Big dried fruit notes on the back end. Lots of raisin characteristics almost like a port wine. there's a menthol character and with the high alcohol, it almost feels like Vic's on your tongue. That sounds worse than it is. Slight green tea feels. lots of green and purple. Very dry, with very little sugar, and tiny honey notes before the botanicals and spice kick in. 14/20

Finish (10%): The alcohol is definitely there. The menthol and botanical notes fade into a bit of black pepper spice and toasted barley. Medium length. 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This took some getting used to but I don't mind it. There's some complexity but for an over-proof whiskey, I prefer a bit more mellowness. This booze is hot. This brand makes some great bourbon but this is pretty rough. I wouldn't call it anything too special. The age statement is pretty standard and I might actually want it to have more oak and char. It's got lots of flavors but no real sense of harmony. 21/30

Retry on Ice (25%): The menthol stays the dominant note here. A bit more fruit starts to poke its head out. There are notes of citrus. I still want more oak. mild improvement from neat but not much really changes.  20/25

Total Ranking: 73% Legendary, Amazing, GreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $42
Actual Price: $55

Conclusion: I think this is just okay. As I said before the bourbon these guys make is great but this is a pretty rough rye. It's an experiment that they slapped their branding unto. There's an upcharge for the name brand. Honestly, there isn't much of a market for overproof rye whiskeys. Knob Creek or even Russell's Reserve / Wild Turkey beat this guy out in my book, especially for a rocks serve. If it's available, it's worth a try, but this will probably sit on my shelf for a while. 

Fact Sheet: 
ABV: 54.9% (varies batch to batch)
Mashbill: A blend of Willett high rye mashbill (74% rye, 11% corn, 15% malted barley) with the Willett low rye mashbill (51% rye, 34% corn, 15% malted barley)
Aged 4 years
Distilled at Willett Distillery, Bardstown, Kentucky