Willett Family Estate – Single Barrel Rye – 4 Year Old – Barrel 14| 55 abv (110 Proof), $44.99/bottle (BevMo)
Color/Appearance: A luminous orangish amber. Very nice color for a four year old spirit. Thankfully for whiskey lovers everywhere the U.S. prohibits the use of colorant in Straight Whiskey, such as this. Bottle is very very classy. Nice label with gold, silver and green foil with batch, barrel, and bottle info. It is too tall to fit upright in my liquor cabinet but that’s not a deal breaker. Really this a great looking bottle that instantly communicates to anyone who see’s it that a treat awaits.
Nose: Candied, dense citrus, swirling with some spice cabinet gone crazy. Isn’t rye lovely! This is a 95% rye and it is obvious right away. Cotton Candy and salted vanilla caramels in a bag while you are visiting the circus. Very complex nose revealing a little more each glass you pour.
Palate: Bright sweet river of caramelized malt hitting a mack truck filled with spices. This is a bold powerful rye but with such finesse that it boggles the mind that it can be only four years old. Gosh the barrels they are using are so locked-in. Honey from bees that lived in-between a rye field and a spice factory. Exotic stuff here. Dried cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. These awesome flavor notes seem to assert themselves in never ending waves, each a different combination of spices allowing the whole spice cabinet to shine. But this powerhouse of herbal esthers and spice is balanced by a very complex maltiness. Vanilla ice cream soda, caramelized orange zest and dark chocolate.
Finish: Soft sweet spicy rye notes linger for a long time accompanied by a warm glow. Lip smackingly delicious. This mouth coating patina of spicy sweet liquid compels me to pour some more.
Overall: It’s high pedigree and great barrel selection want to give you a smooth honeyed whisky profile but its cask-strength and rye nature make it too rough-and-tumble to be boring. How can such a young rye whiskey contain so much elegance and complexity. Its cask-strength high quality distillate make this rye hard to beat. This Willett rye may be MGP/LDI stock but it is no joke. I loved this rye so much that I am already on my second bottle. You will not find any other rye like this one. Other ryes may be old and complex but will have lost that spring in their step. Some other ryes may be younger or the same age and match this in pyrotechnics but they will lack the Willett’s mature elegance. This may well be the rye sweet spot.