Sunday, June 9, 2019

Willett Family Estate 4 Year Small Batch Rye - 109.8 Proof

- $50
- 109.8 Proof
- 4 Years
- Kentucky

So, to start this post off with a spoiler, I really liked this one. I knew I was going to like this one when I bought it (so, take this completely biased review with a grain of salt). That, of course, is why I bought it.  My local liquor store knows of my love for Willett ryes, and when this new batch came in, he didn't even bother asking if I wanted it. He just put it in my hands and said, "Here, I know you want this."

Whatever it is that Willett is doing with their ryes really nails everything I love about a rye. I get that fruity characteristic that seems to balance so well with the spiciness of the rye as well as the underlying sweeter caramel and toffee flavors. I have yet to find one that I haven't been thoroughly impressed with, and this one is no different.

On the nose, I immediately got orange peel and brown sugar -- a bit of an unexpected note, but nonetheless delicious. I also got a creamy vanilla scent that was incredibly inviting. It also had a light pine scent as well as a certain nutty quality to it. On later pours I swore I got hints of dark cherry, but those notes seemed to be fleeting.

When I took my first sip, the first thing I noticed was that this batch was sweeter than previous batches. It had a certain frosted sugar cookie note to it. Not quite that sweet, but that's the direction it was leaning. 

It had a nice dose of the typical cinnamon spice to balance out the sweet, as well as a little bit of orange peel bitterness. Nothing seemed overdone, and it all seemed to balance really well. Throughout I got hints of dill and pine, but those flavors weren't nearly as prominent as I've found them in other ryes. I also got a light hint of mint on the back end.

This was, in the end, a sweeter rye. In addition to the vanilla and sugar cookie notes, I also got this sort of tangy molasses note, which worked really well with the light cinnamon spice and the nice warm hug on the end  to create a long-lasting, complex and rich rye, with a bit more sweetness than usual, but still hitting all those notes that I love.

Again, I was thoroughly impressed with this one, so much so that I easily made my way through this bottle within a week. It was just so easy to keep going back to pour after pour. This is one of those bottles that I'll just keep purchasing as I see them on the shelf, whether it's a batch I've had before or not. I'll be making it a point to always have a bottle on hand.

Grade: A

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