I know nothing about Willett, but as it says “Stitzel” in parentheses on the label I’m pretty sure there are people who will say I don’t deserve to be drinking it. Whiskey from the extinct Stitzel-Weller distillery, you see, is one of the most prized (or hyped, depending on your point of view) commodities in the world of bourbon, and it’s quite possible that its charms are wasted on a bourbon neophyte like me. If it helps assuage these concerns let me reassure you that I only drank half of this sample as a shot with cherry Coke and Southern Comfort. And now I have my seersucker suit and my panama hat on and am sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch, drinking the rest, with my faithful hounds Ezra and Elijah at my feet. You have to forgive me–I don’t really know my bourbon stereotypes.
Willett 21 (53.5%; cask 9948 for K&L; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Soft and mellow. Light caramel, toasted wood and dark raisins soaked in rum. There’s some nutmeg and cinnamon and brown sugar too. Really quite lovely. With time the caramel intensifies and there are also notes of apricot and dried tangerine peel. The sweetness keeps intensifying too (maple syrup). Getting some piney notes too. A few drops of water emphasize the raisiny notes and also bring out some salt.
Palate: Caramel, orange, cinnamon. Starts out sweet but then starts drying out with some woody bite (not harsh or over-oaked at all though). On the second sip I get some sandalwood and something floral. With time the oakiness begins to expand (not unpleasant though). Water pushes the oak back a bit, or at least the drying aspect of the oak while emphasizing the spiciness.
Finish: Long. Dry and salty. Gets increasingly spicy and woody. Not much change with water.
Comments: This is very nice. Not very far away from the only BTAC Weller I’ve tried (from the 2011 release). I liked the nose more than the palate; and I liked the palate more at first than I did at the end, as the oak seemed to dominate the other flavours too much (though, in and of itself, it’s not unpleasant).
Thanks to Tim R. for the sample!
Rating: 88 points.