Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

Willett Family Estate Rye 25 Years

Willett Family Estate Rye – 25 yr (barrel # 1776)
50% ABV
$250
Website
WFE 25yr
What the Distillery Says:
Willett doesn’t say anything about their estate bottlings on their website.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Big oak, molasses, burnt fruitcake, raisins, prunes, cigar paper.
Palate: Very oaky, sharp dry spices (allspice?) and bitter chocolate, sour raisins.
Finish: Long but quite dry.
Comments: This was the most expensive bottle of whiskey I had ever purchased at the time (which I purchased from their gift shop in September 2012). And it will go down as “lessons learned” in my book, that age doesn’t equate to quality, and if I’m laying down that much money – I need to get a sample first. I think this whiskey was past its prime, and probably would have been amazing at 15 – 20 yrs. For my taste, this is just too oak dominant. I have to really work to pick flavors out from beneath the oak, and I don’t like to work that hard to enjoy my whiskey. I have been blessed with the opportunity to try some amazing older Willett ryes, and I made the mistake of assuming they were a representation of most ryes of that nature (rather than the rare-exceptional barrels that they were). For the retail I paid 4 years ago (which it would be double or more than that today I’m sure), I wouldn’t buy it again – so knowing the current market, I can’t recommend this.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: Light mint, peach cobbler, black strap molasses, and polished leather.
Palate: NyQuil, heavy on the wood, cocoa powder, spearmint, and cinnamon.
Finish: Dry, minty, and long on the oak.
Comments: This is a thick, almost gooey whiskey that coats the inside of the glass. Some people tend to prefer bourbons no older than 10 to 15 years old. Some don’t even go that far. The warm Kentucky summers and new oak can quickly over power a whiskey with heavy notes of wood. I usually like “woody” or “oaky” whiskeys. It’s not as much of a turn off for me. But that said, this rye from Willett is exceptionally far on the woody spectrum. There is a great nose to it but the taste and finish are just in your face with the oak. This probably should’ve come out of the barrel about four years sooner.
Rating: Probably Pass

Willett Family Estate Rye 5 Years

Willett Family Estate Rye – 5 yr (barrel # 78)
55% ABV
$40
Website
willett 5 year
What the Distillery Says:
Willett doesn’t really say a damn thing about their “Estate” bottles.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Bright, crisp Christmas spice (nutmeg, cinnamon), orange marmalade over oak.
Palate: Sharp citrus spice with tangerines and craisins, subtle vanilla sweetness under pepper spice and cinnamon notes.
Finish: Moderately long and dry.
Comments: The line of Willett Family Estate Ryes has been mostly from the same distillery (MGP), although they started distilling their own rye a few years ago. This was a waxed-top bottle bought a few years ago, and gifted to me from a friend who knows I love rye. This bottle is no exception. I appreciate the high proof bottling, and while it is a single barrel – I’ve tried a dozen or so in this age range (4 – 5 yr) and found them pretty consistent. More oak than you might expect for a 5 yr, but not too much (probably aged high in the rickhouse). I really wish I would have picked up more of their 4 and 5 yr rye whiskey when it was laying around at $35-$40. It isn’t as widely available these days, and when it is – the price has gone up quite a bit.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Fresh mint, nutmeg, Big Red cinnamon chewing gum, and lemon preserves.
Palate: This youngish rye is very flavorful but it also wears the proof on its sleeve. You feel everyone of those 110 proof points. Citrus, ginger, cinnamon, sharp mint, and red pepper.
Finish: Mild and woody. The heat comes more on the palate than the finish. It leaves black pepper notes around the edges of the tongue for some time.
Comments: This is a bit of a monster of a young rye. It’s very tasty and back when you could get this rye for $40 it was very versatile. Now Willett whiskeys are getting a bit too big for their britches in the pricing. Regardless, it is a good whiskey and worth trying.
Rating: Stands Out

Booker’s Rye

Booker’s Rye Big Time Batch
Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

68.1% ABV
$300
Website
bookers-rye
What the Distillery Says:
Booker Noe was known for his innovative thinking, big personality and, most of all, his big-flavored bourbon. He spent his days experimenting at the distillery, tinkering with different grain mixtures, and was always intrigued by the challenge that the temperamental rye grain posed. Never one to back down from a challenge, he went big in 2003 and laid down a limited number of barrels of a rye whiskey, creating the first ever Booker’s Rye. When you take one sip of this whiskey, you’ll agree that it is “Big Time” all the way.

It has an intense flavor profile with pronounced, well-balanced notes of wood and oak from the longer aging process. The deep amber liquid offers a complex aroma with spicy notes from the rye in the mash bill.

This uncut rye has a spicy and robust flavor, but is not overpowering. It can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

What Richard Says:
Nose: It’s a little woody but not too much. The proof needs a bit of water before the nose can really develop. Deep sooty caramel, fiery cinnamon, oiled leather, and hint of tobacco.
Palate: Whoa! So delicious and so hot at the same time. The experience of the first taste reminds me of the first time I had George T Stagg, although this doesn’t go down quite as smooth. It is rich, thick, and sweet…oozing cinnamon Red Hots, baking spices, and cooked brown sugar and butter.
Finish: The finish is dry with lots of leather, cigar tobacco, and cocoa powder.
Comments: Supposedly this isn’t just high proof extra aged Knob Creek Rye. According to the distillery this was a special recipe rye that Booker created and laid down the year before he passed away. I don’t know if that is marketing hooey or the real deal but this tastes unlike any rye that I’ve ever had. This is absolutely delicious. If it wasn’t ridiculously over priced at $300 a bottle then I would say scour the earth for every bottle you can find. It’s a shame really, because this is such delicious whiskey and it’s marred by the stigma of Beam’s recent pricing missteps (Knob Creek 2001, Booker’s Bourbon, and this). All that aside, this really is a drink that you should experience. $300 for the bottle? No, but if you can get a glass for $30 to $40 at a bar then jump on it.
Rating: Must Try

We would like to thank Beam Suntory for sending us a sample to review.

Mosswood Nocino

Mosswood Nocino Barrel Aged American Whiskey
46% ABV
$50
Website
front_mosswood_nocino_barrel
What the Bottler Says:
Not much at all really. This was supposed to be release in October 2016 but I can’t find any information on the bottling on the Mosswood website or any trace of a retailer carrying the bottle. This is pretty obviously sourced whiskey but it gets a finish in barrels that held Nocino liqueur made by the people behind Mosswood with walnuts from their own tree. This release is only 359 bottles so it is very limited.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Wow that barrel finish really makes the nose stand out with notes of fruit brandies. As it sits a bit it comes out with peanut butter pie and candied walnuts.
Palate: This has a great mouth feel to it. It’s very rich and creamy and coats the tongue. The flavor is more like a heritage apple brandy or some obscure grape varietal brandy. It reminds me a lot of the brandies coming out of Germain Robin.
Finish: Light wood, like wet toothpicks, offset by a slightly astringent nuttiness.
Comments: This is really interesting. The Nocino finish does a number on this. It tastes like a fruit brandy and feels like a whiskey. It’s kind of got the better parts of both. It is very interesting and if you are inclined toward interesting whiskey then try it if you have the opportunity.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Mosswood for sending us a sample to review.

WhistlePig 2016 Boss Hog

WhistlePig The Boss Hog Straight Rye Whiskey: The Independent
60.3% ABV
$299.99
Website
boss-hog-independent-main
What the Bottler Says:
The name says it all. This is our biggest, most profound whiskey. For the Boss Hog in us all.

The 1st edition, created in 2013, was our best at the time: our best barrels, barrel strength, 12 year aged.

In 2014, the 2nd edition was created as a memorial to Mortimer, one of our founder’s first pigs. He died heroically whilst defending the honor of Mauve, his porcine lover and companion. This marked the first time Mortimer appeared on the pewter stopper. Again we used our barrels as barrel strength, this time aged for 13 years.

This 3rd edition of Boss Hog, The Independent, is a celebration of the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. This is our first Rye Whiskey ever finished in Hogshead 250 liter Scotch casks – the largest barrels in the business – which were enhanced with new American Oak heads.

The result is extraordinary. A fine balance between complex spices and delicate nuance. There’s nothing else like it.

Nose: Oak and vanilla are predominant, with undertones of mint, caramel, and baking spice.
Palate: Warm and bold, with lots of spices. Very faint hints of peat and smoke. Slightly earthy.
Finish: Surprisingly easydrinking for 125 proof with a long, warm, spicy finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Mint tea and newly made vanilla extract.
Palate: Heavy on the mint, vanilla, and caramel with a light back smokiness. The press notes are right, this drinks much easier than the proof would foretell.
Finish: Mint, allspice, oak, and dark cocoa powder.
Comments: Apparently WhistlePig is not to be out done by Jim Beam’s $300 13 year old rye by coming out with their own $300 rye. It’s a bit surprising given the recent release of their 15 Year for $200. Let’s be honest, the price stings a bit. This isn’t a rye for the masses. However, if you have the opportunity to try this then please do. It is a stellar glass of rye.
Rating: Must Try

We would like to thank WhistlePig for sending us a sample to review.