Willett 7, Rye, Barrel 94

Willett Family Estate Rye, 7 Year Old, Barrel 94

I closed out last week with a review of a batch of Noah’s Mill, a sourced bourbon put out by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who also own the Willett brand name, and who recently restarted the Willett Distillery. Here now is a rye released under the Willett Family Estate name. Though this name might make you think otherwise, this is also sourced, and the odds are that it was sourced from MGP (if someone knows something definitive about this one way or the other please chime in below). This is a single barrel release but I’m not sure if it was just a regular single barrel release or if it was picked by someone (for some store) in particular. Why can’t I just ask whoever I got the sample from? Well, because I got it among one of many bottle splits and can’t remember who the source was. Getting older is so much fun! Anyway, this is not going to have to be very good to be better than the last rye I reviewed

Willett 7, Rye (57.8%; barrel 94; from a bottle split)

Nose: Pretty standard issue MGP rye at first with pine, dill and cold black tea. A little more vegetal on the second sniff and it starts getting sweeter too (caramel corn) and a bit peppery. Gets richer as it sits even as a slight dusty note emerges. Water pulls out some fruit—is that a hint of apricot?—and more pepper but also thins it out a bit.

Palate: The sweetness leads but then all the other stuff shows up, with the herbal notes most pronounced as I swallow. Spicier here (cinnamon). Drinkable at full strength but I think this needs some water. Yes, better balance with water between the sweet notes and the spicy/sour ones and brings out a dry, leafy quality and some citrus.

Finish: Long. The spice is the story here. Water tones down the bite of the spice a bit, which is good, and the citrus that showed up on the palate continues into the finish.

Comments: I am not 100% positive that this is MGP product but it tastes just like other MGP ryes. However, it also tastes like a very good version of MGP rye. I am not sure how much this cost when it was available but I’d have been happy to pay in the region of $50 for this. Please feel free to laugh at me if that’s a naively low estimation of what single barrel Willett ryes go for. On the whole, I liked the nose better neat and the palate and finish better with water.

Rating: 87 points.

4 thoughts on “Willett 7, Rye, Barrel 94

  1. Regarding price range, the WFE ryes are much easier to find than bourbons at retail on the shelf. They still tend to fly off the shelf pretty quickly. I think the rule of thumb is/was about $10 per yr (i.e. $70ish for this one)…I’d guess retail range would be $60-90 for this currently. And in secondary mkt add another $50-80 on that.


  2. The vast majority of Willett ryes in this age range and probably older these days are likely to be MGP. This was probably made when it was still LDI and was owned by Angostura/CL Financial out of Trinidad unless it has been sitting in a tank somewhere for years, not that it matters very much. Willett typically puts “Distilled in Indiana” on the bottle if that is the case but of course that doesn’t help much since you don’t have the bottle or know who does!

    These days a Willett Rye tends to be a minimum of $10-12+ per year of age if not more from what I have seen. But I haven’t been buying much Willett of late. That is a lot but sadly not that far off from the retail market these days, much less the secondary market.

    But it certainly makes the new Booker’s Rye 13yo look cheap by comparison…


  3. I have a bottle out of the same barrel…but you didn’t get it from me. Unfortunately this is possibly the one bottle purchased since I started the blog that I forgot to keep the receipt for. So I am no help on the price. Love the whiskey though.


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