Review: Willet Family Estate Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Willet Rye 2.jpg
7 yrs; Virgin Charred Oak
95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller MGP (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

Willet, until the last few years, sources a number of bourbon and rye whiskies and put them under their family estate brand, a brand which now contains some of the most sought after whiskies in America because of Willet's skill at aging. Willet is now producing their own stock, but there are still terrific sourced barrels floating around.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: Barrel 136; Aged 7 Yrs.

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

A really nice bottle.

A dense, rye-filled nose that you can’t appreciate without adding water: rye, rye flakes, buckwheat pasta, oak, dill, caramelized fennel root, anise seed...the grain character is so condensed and sharp – I am in love. Icing sugar, sticky toffee pudding (think dates and caramel sauce), bitter coriander, lemon peel, beetroot..I haven’t had a rye so defined and sharp since I tasted Masterson’s batch 1 in 2015. The palate is oaky, tangy, but full of sharp rye, acacia honey, dill, and lots of brown cardamom. Terrific tanginess and caramel, too – brilliant at full strength as well as diluted. It fades to anise, dill (lots of it), black tea, apples, and clove. There is a nice elderflower note I often find with Willet, too. The brown cardamom is still quite present on the finish, which is quite candied. (As an aside, if you’ve never cooked with brown cardamom – buy some just to smell it. a fabulous spice) This drinks very well at 48%.

Terrific rye. If you can ever find a decent willet rye at cask strength, they are amazing value – though very hard to find these days.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average (based on $158)