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.