Willett Family Estate Rye – 25 yr (barrel # 1776)
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