Monday, April 6, 2015

Willett Family Estate 8 Year Single Barrel Rye Whiskey

I've tried the Willett Family Estate bourbons previously, but I had never had the opportunity to try one of their ryes. So, when I went to the store looking for something special and the clerk informed me they had the Willett 6 and 8-year ryes behind the counter, I had to give it a go.

Interestingly, it was a tougher choice between the 6 and the 8 than one would initially think. Aside from the age, the 8 year was not distilled by Willett, but rather sourced from MGP, whereas the 6 year was their own juice. Tough call to make, but I went with the 8 year for no particular reason at all, figuring I've had plenty of good, sourced whiskey--no reason to hold that against the 8-year.

While I didn't try the 6-year, I'm glad I made the choice I did, as this is hands-down the best rye I've ever tasted! At 117.6 proof, it certainly packs a punch, and the punch definitely hits you up front. But, just as quickly as it hits you, it fades to one of the most complex and tastiest whiskey's I've had in a long time.

This rye was the perfect blend of spice and sweet. Up front it had the traditional rye spice, with a black licorice note to it--pretty traditional in that respect.

However, that spice faded into a very sweet (like sweet corn kind of sweet), buttery and yet minty flavor that coated the mouth and throat. It may seem like a weird combination, but it tasted amazing, and it seemed to linger forever, making me yearn and salivate for the next sip.

As the bottle sat open for a bit, the alcohol burn seemed to fade a bit, and the combination of flavors seemed to blend a little better, becoming less distinct individually and taking on its own flavor that was very much like a not-as-sweet root beer. Interestingly, rather than up front, I noticed the black licorice flavor more on the back end as I got towards the end of the bottle.

Ultimately, I've had a nice run with the last couple bottles I've finished, as this is easily one of my top whiskey's ever. Unfortunately it's not one I'm likely to run across again, but I won't hesitate for a second to grab future Willett Family Estate ryes when I can find them.

Grade: A+


  1. Great writing. Thanks for the review. One correction: Willett, started re-distilling in 2012 (, so both the 6 and 8 yr rye you reference above are sourced MGP/LDI rye's. Their 'own juice' is now 3 yrs old. The 3 year is being released at their gift shop this month and across the country beginning in January 2016.

  2. Thanks for the comment and clarification! While I wrote this review a while ago, I recall there being something different about the label that caused me to believe that one was sourced and the other was not. Certainly the 8-year made clear that it was "distilled in Indiana," which was notably absent from the 6-year.

    Thanks for the link, a lot of good information there! However, I'm a bit confused by the spreadsheet. It indicates that Barrel #1456 is a 7 yr. bourbon.