Saturday, October 27, 2018

Willett Family Estate 4 Year Small Batch Rye - 113.8 Proof

- $60
- 113.8 Proof
- 4 Years
- Kentucky

It's rare that I actively go on the hunt for a particular whiskey. When it comes to buying rare or allocated whiskey, I tend to think of myself as more of an opportunist--if the opportunity presents itself to pick up something rare or special, then I nearly always pounce. But, rarely do I go out actively hunting particular bottles.

This bottle was different, though. I loved Willett's two and three-year ryes, but it felt like an eternity since the three-year was first released. About a month ago, however, I started seeing people on Facebook who had managed to find bottles here in Illinois. And so the hunt was on. I was asking my local liquor store guys to hold a bottle back, I had all my friends inquiring on my behalf at every liquor store they happened to venture into, and I was regularly using my lunch breaks to hit as many stores as I could, asking the same question--"Got any of that 4-year??"

After a few weeks of these regular visits, and getting an answer of, "Not yet," I finally started getting different answers--"Sorry, we're all sold out." I couldn't believe it had come and gone and I missed it. On my way back from one such trip, feeling defeated, I got a text from a buddy of mine with a picture of the bottle letting me know he landed one!  The next day I was cracking it open, and a week later I was finishing the last drop.

Now that I've written the longest intro to one of my posts ever, allow me to get into the whiskey itself. The nose was familiar and expected. I got rich scents of cherry and almond, along with an earthy but sweet pipe tobacco note. It also had a distinct sweetness on the nose, almost rum-like, that I wasn't expecting.

On the palate I got a ton of sweet cinnamon, a flavor somewhere in between cinnamon bread and cinnamon red hots. The spice didn't really kick in until it hit the back of my throat causing me to salivate and yearn for that next sip. I also got some pine notes (something I've noticed in past releases), along with a brown sugar sweetness that at times came across as more of a maple sugar sweetness.  Perhaps that's where the rum notes on the nose came from.

The flavors seemed to just get more complex from here, though. Along with some traditional vanilla notes, I also got a strong amaretto note along with a sweet but tart apple flavor, like a Granny Smith apple. That sweet, fruity tartness seemed to linger for an eternity, providing a crisp but long finish. I know Granny Smith apple might seem like a weird note to get in whiskey, but it really worked well here, almost providing a certain refreshing quality to counter the cinnamon spice.

As mentioned above, I finished off this bottle in very quick fashion. I spent more time trying to find this bottle than I did enjoying this bottle. But I regret nothing. This was absolutely delicious, complex and unique. It's one of those moments where it lived up to all of expectations I had built up in my own head. I guess I'm back on the hunt for more now!

Grade: A


  1. I got two bottles drank one in a week trying to go slower on the second. Best rye ever

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