New Willett Rye Review
The Willett Distillery stopped distilling Whiskey in the 1970’s. In January 2012 (almost 40 years later) the next batch is distilled. Good Bourbon takes awhile 4-6 years for decent, 6-10 years for good but Rye is more forgiving. This month the Willett Family Estate Rye that they distilled is being released. I’ve tasted this twice from the barrel as it evolved. Two Rye recipes are being used. One is the original Willett recipe and one is a version Drew Kulvseen came up with. Combined this is approximately 70% Rye, 15% Malted Barely and 15% Corn.
I’ve really been looking forward to this one but I remember the last time I anticipated something, Old Blowhard, with great disappointment but the Bookers 25th came before that which I loved.
This is different as I really like Willett and I didn’t want to be partial, swayed, give bonus points or worse, not really like it. Let’s face it, it’s a Two Year Rye. Most two year rye tastes like wet newspaper, medicine, nail polish etc. and it doesn’t need to be that much better to BE better. Good is hard, real good is almost impossible. I expected I might have needed to take the cowards way out that many Booze rags do when they don’t publlish dog Whiskey reviews that are going to be bad. So I guess I gotta get on with it.
The Color is Golden and a tad light but it’s two years old and that’s what happens. The bottle sports the new neck cover/seal getting rid of the wax. The cork is now synthetic. The Rye was barreled at 110 proof and bottled at 109.4.
Very very complex and interesting. I was shocked how much. Not ordinary either. A slight wet paint smell in a good way. Fruit, Vanilla, Spice, Floral and Citrus. This must be from the yeast as the Bourbon I tried young has the same Citrus Orange Marmalade thing going on. It’s distinctive and I remembered it and it’s still there from the early Rye and Bourbon Willett barrel samples I had and it’s nice. I’m thinking Orange Sorbet with Nilla Wafers, Rose Petals and a sprinkle of Cinnamon and Maple Sugar. Tropical fruit, Kumquat —So far so good. It evolves and opens up more with airtime. I will now say that anyone that gives tasting notes such as these is a pompous ass. So I guess I criticize myself. It’s got a pleasing complex nose.
Maple, Spice, Fruitiness. The floral goes away very subtle Citrus. Oreo? It’s sweet in a way that I don’t expect a Rye to be that is 70-80% but it works real well. It doesn’t quite shake the very slight medicinal trait which is so hard for a young rye to get rid of. I would never ever guessed this at less than 6 years nor higher than 100 proof let alone almost 110. It’s amazingly drinkable as is. This is better than most of the LDI/MGPI young Rye they had released previously.
I’m a finish brat. Nothing is real good without a smooth and pleasant aftertaste with some hang time. A good 10 seconds of a juicy fruit finish. Amazing! It’s scary in a sense that in two more years this will get better and in 4 it’s better and 4 more it could be remarkable.
Changing my Rating system to 1-6. There shouldn’t be a middle ground as average is too easy.
This is a nose of 4, Taste of 4.5, finish of 4.5. So a 4.5. Value is an easy 6 as this is in the mid $30’s, easily better than most Rye twice it’s price and 3x it’s age. Weighting Value it would be a 5 of 6.
I found that water hurts this at such a young age. Loses some complexity that just won’t hold up in it’s youth. Again, to me it doesn’t need water.
I retested some Rye as a simple “what do I like better” along side the Willett. I like it better than, Dickel, Knob Creek. Holds up well to Jeff21, better than Saz6 or Rittenhouse, Michters 2014 Rye. Close to a tie with a few others. Bottom line is its a big winner & it will get better.
The Kulvseens have shown there is a new Sheriff in town with a Triple, just shy of a Home Run in a world of young Rye strikeouts, walks and singles. Buy it if you can.
Do you want a sample? The first 3 emails that can name my companions I often refer to gets them mailed. Email me at bourbontruth at a. O l.
Summing up, great for the money and no one will feel bad about buying three bottles for $100. The 1st release is 6000 bottles to be followed with regular shipments. About 120,000 the first year.