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Willett Rye and Bourbon


jparrott
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The Willett label is coming to D.C. next week with the release of bottlings from two barrels of 23-year-old rye whiskey and single barrels of 6- and 15-year-old bourbon. Restaurateurs and publicans, please contact me for wholesale information (for now--the wholesaler is still spinning up operations). Joe Riley of Ace Beverage has retail pricing (including some very useful specials); I'll let him chime in on those.

The two barrels of the rye are quite different--one is supple, leathery, a bit fruity, the other a dark, brooding, bruiser. The 15-year-old bourbon is stunningly soft in texture (compared to the strongly woody George T. Stagg, of similar age, proof, and price). The 6-year old bourbon is beautiful, very pure for its proof.

Availability is very limited, and the Holidays are coming. So talk to Joe!

The whiskeys will also be featured at both Bourbon locations in a few weeks' time, and a few other bars.

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The Willett's have landed!

I had the opportunity to re-try the freshly-arrived goods with Jake along with Bill Thomas, the GM of the Bourbon restaurants (Adams Morgan and Glover Park) and this was a wonderful way to kick off what must surely be the coldest evening of the autumn so far. These whiskies made me all warm inside.

The 6-year Bourbon is just flat-out delicious, with lovely spice notes to it. I wish I could get a shave as smooth as this Bourbon. Even over a few cubes of ice in a little tumbler, it's just sip after sip of pure charm. I was very impressed by it's accessibility, in other words, I don't think that it will scare the pants off of a day-in, day-out Jim Beam drinker, but at the same time, it has flavors, subtle nuances and character that blow away almost everything in its age category and class. This is very special stuff.

The 15-year Bourbon is much more serious, almost regal. It commands your attention. To call it simply the best 15 year-old Bourbon I've ever had would be damning it with faint praise. I may have just found my proverbial "desert island" Bourbon, i.e., if I had to have just one Bourbon to drink for the rest of my days, this could be the one. I've rarely had the like, and it is a clinic as to what great Bourbon can be.

The two Ryes, the "Iron Fist" and the "Velvet Glove" are just sublime. 23 years of age, 130 proof, and gloriously balanced, this is celebration-whiskey, hunker-down-and-ride-out-the-hurricane whiskey, let's-seal-the-deal-on-that-merger whiskey. At the risk of sounding like a pompous ass, I believe that these are Ryes which are impossible to appreciate in the fullest sense unless you have a lot of whiskey-tasting experience, because these are not in any sense "beginner's" whiskies, they need to be framed and understood in a broader context. Even I probably don't fully appreciate them, and I've tasted a lot of whiskey in my career and life. But they sure are damned good.

These and a few other choice goodies will be available for sale either Thursday or Friday. C'mon by and take a look, but call first just in case, since I don't know precisely when they will be there.

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Having a bit of the 6-year old right now, over ice. Rarely do bourbons actually show well with ice, which tends to dilute the sugary flavors and accentuate the feel of the alcohol. But this one cuts right through, showing a lot more spice than when neat. Happy Friday!

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Trivia for the points hounds: the previous Willett single-barrel rye bottling that revived the label (in 2006), chosen from the same barrel stocks as a 22-year-old, was rated 96 by John Hansell of Malt Advocate, and made his list of Top Ten New Whiskies that year. More than a few of us here are hoarding our last pours of those "Doug Phillips" bottles.

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The Willet Family Potstill has arrived*

*Barbara Eden not included

From Mr. Drew Kulsveen himself (off of blog.maltadvocate.com) (bolding is mine)

Quote
Drew Kulsveen Says:

January 22nd, 2008 at 12:11 pm

This is a new product for us that we are very excited about. It is separate from the brand that Mike mentioned above. The item that Mike is referring to is called Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon/Rye. It is what we consider our barrel selection program. The Bourbon that John review is a completely different item. It is called Willett Family Pot Still Reserve. It is a single barrel 8 to 10 years old at 94 proot in a pot still decanter replicated from the pot still from the pot still that we have in place. We just shipped the first of it last week to our customer in California and should be available in the Californian market by the end of this month. It will be released in Kentucky next and be available by the beginning of February. It will be released in New York and New Jersey in March. Illinois in March, Indiana in March, and other markets to follow. If any one has questions regarding this item please contact me at Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.

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I had a taste of both tonight and I'd just like to say "Great googly moogly, these are very tasty bourbons". The 12 year old was surprisingly subtle at first for a 114.8 proof bourbon, and the 16 year old (which Owen says was pushing 17 when bottled) was just a spicy, sweet great drink.

And that was neat...

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Not to state the obvious, but when the Velvet Glove stands upright for several months, it not only throws a sediment, but also gets thicker and richer towards the bottom of the bottle.

Having just finished one bottle, and having just opened another, the differences between the two are noticeable - I strongly prefer the purity of the newly opened bottle (which has also been standing upright for months).

I've seen this several times now, and it's not a criticism in any way; it's just an observation of gravity exerting its forces on a natural product.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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New Willett bourbons in...6-year-old "Honey Bunny" 59.6% and 12-year-old "Calypso" 57.8%. Available at the usual outlets!
The Calypso is superb indeed and I am not even a bourbon drinker! (Although Scott seems not to have received that message, I am regularly drinking such spirits as rum and bourbon and enjoying it!).
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The Calypso is superb indeed and I am not even a bourbon drinker! (Although Scott seems not to have received that message, I am regularly drinking such spirits as rum and bourbon and enjoying it!).

Scott gave me a taste at Dino the other night and, well, HOLY SHIT. Willett is back in a big way, the Calypso is incredible for such a young bourbon.

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The early returns on Willett are in ...

Cogniscenti thought Velvet Glove was more refined than Iron Fist - I thought so too ... I bought a case of the former, admiring the latter while proclaiming it needlessly harsh.

Velvet Glove turned out to be very volatile - each bottle was fine upon opening, but after several days went up-and-down like a sinusoid, degrading over several weeks time.

I'm finishing my last bottle of the very first Willett offering, that pre-dates either the Velvet Glove or the Iron Fist, and it has held up remarkably, in a bottle that has been open for a month.

Just goes to show ... the new kids on the block, even the ones with the most potential, learn on the job. Velvet Glove does not live up to potential with exposure to oxygen; other Willets have. So what accounts for this? I don't know.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I got to try a few of the Willetts last night. First time for me. Gotta say, really liked the 2 year rye. And some others, too...the cherry bomb is an ass-kicker.

Two year old rye? :) Where, perchance, did you happen to try this? Has to be from the Jake Parrott private collection, not available to the general public.

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Glad you like it. "Cocoa Loco" is also in, and also eight years old.

THIS. I haven't had the Suspension Bridge, but upon the recommendation from Joe Riley last month got myself a bottle of Cocoa Loco. Really outstanding, easy drinking bourbon with mutliple layers of flavor and very little burn on the back of the palate. Willett delivers consistently across age range, which is always nice when it comes to finding a reliable producer. The best offerings I've had (other than Velvet Glove) have been the 3 year old that came out a couple years back, this Cocoa Loco, and the 12yo Calypso. All were under $100 and a steal given the quality IMO.

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