Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

Willett Family Estate Rye 5 Years

Willett Family Estate Rye – 5 yr (barrel # 78)
55% ABV
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
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
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
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.

Westland American Single Malt

Westland American Single Malt Whiskey
46% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
A flagship malt is the core expression of a distillery’s house style. Westland’s American Oak is a reflection of where it is made and the collective intent of those who made it. When we founded Westland Distillery, we had a vision for an entirely new category of whiskey. Distilled from the rich, flavorful barley of Washington State and matured predominantly in new American oak casks in the steady, cool humidity of our seaside home, this whiskey is a testament to that vision. All of these choices and ingredients conspire to create an approachable, mature and uniquely American single malt that can stand with the best whiskies in the world.

The initial nose provides lemon and orange custard backed by freshly produced waffle cone. Shortly after, a rich creaminess emerges with creme brûlée and chocolate custard while a hint of jasmine hides just beneath the surface. The first sip confirms the creamy and rich fruit custard notes of the nose, adding an element of rainier cherries. After five minutes, melting swiss chocolate is revealed with a hint of almond. Extended tastings brings out bananas and cream with Turkish coffee.

Washington Select Pale Malt
Munich Malt
Extra Special Malt
Pale Chocolate Malt
Brown Malt

Cooper’s Select New American Oak
Cooper’s Reserve New American Oak
First Fill Ex-Bourbon

YEAST STRAIN: Belgian Brewer’s Yeast


What Gary Says:
Nose: Young malt, lemongrass with some floral notes over peach and sea air.
Palate: Slightly creamy mouthfeel with apricot, peach, and honey over gentle spice(like mincemeat pie dialed down by half).
Finish: On the short-side, and wet (but pleasant).
Comments: A well done malt – I find it nicely balanced and approachable. Nothing off-putting about it, although it left me wanting more (as in – this same whiskey but maybe with another couple of years, and a few more points of proof). It is pretty tasty, although a tad on the thin side. For the price, unless you’re a whiskey geek who wants to try and support American Single Malt (a noble cause to be sure!), there are a lot of Scotch single malts that deliver more flavor for less. But that is the price of being an early adopter. This is a finely crafted whiskey, and shows a lot of potential. It isn’t trying to be Scotch-like, but clearly is a single malt. I haven’t tried their other offerings, but this sample definitely has gotten me interested in looking!
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich and sweetly floral. There are background notes that are slightly meaty and also brandy like.
Palate: Delicate and well balanced. The sweetness here reminds more more of a cognac than a scotch. Poached stone fruits come to mind.
Finish: A little peppery and slightly hot but a few drops of water smooths that out.
Comments: Yeah, I’m the guy that typically hates American craft whiskey. I find it uninspiring, poorly put together, young, and over priced. That is a broad generalization but I am hard pressed to find exceptions to those descriptors. This however, would be one such exception. This is a delicious whiskey. It’s unique, well balanced, and it doesn’t show its youth at all. That said, you need to approach this on it’s own merits and don’t go looking for a scotch clone. If anything, this reminds me more of a nice brandy rather than a single malt scotch. My only complaint is the price. I know it’s tough for the new guys to sell their product with all that start up cost to recuperate but damn there are a lot of nice $75 bottles of whiskey out there. Hopefully, as Westland gains scale they will be able to target a more reasonable price point.
Rating: Must Try