Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Willett Family Estate 4 Year Small Batch Rye - 110.2 Proof

- $45
- 110.2 Proof
- 4 years
- Kentucky

If I can be considered a "Stan" or a homer for any particular brand of whiskey out there, it's this one. I've loved the WFE small batch ryes ever since they started out releasing them at 2 years old. Each new bottle I try simply confirms my fandom, and I have yet to have a batch that I didn't absolutely love.

For some reason, Willett has managed to hit on all the flavors I love in my rye and it has done so consistently. In fact, it's the one bottle that I regularly make sure to grab backups of, something I can't say for any other bottle. So, know going in that this review is going to be full of love and praise, and that because they are based on such personal preference, reviews are stupid.

As expected, this bottle did not disappoint. On the nose I got some of the fruit-forward notes that I've become accustomed to with Willett ryes, including a rich and almost slightly bitter blackberry note. At times I also got a brighter fruity note, like red raspberry. That mixed well with cinnamon and brown sugar notes, and all of it had a rich underlying note of almond and pistachio.

On my first sip the first thing I noticed was the nice, oily texture, moreso than I recall noticing in previous batches. I loved this texture, as it coated my mouth and throat with flavor, really allowing me to savor each sip.

I immediately noticed the forward fruit notes, with plum and raisin taking center stage. It also had a slight bitterness, but it wasn't the kind I'd associate with raspberry or blackberry, but rather was almost a watermelon rind type flavor. In that respect it was unique and actually very good.

That may be due in part to the fact that what bitterness that was there was welcome as it played off the sweet cinnamon note that seemed to dominate from front to finish. That cinnamon mixed with brown sugar provided an almost candied orange peel note.

While I didn't get the mint that I've found in prior bottles, I did get a decent amount of pine. In fact, this flavor seemed to become increasingly prominent as I worked my way through the bottle. The last pour reminded me of Christmas with its mix of dark fruits, cinnamon and pine. Although recency bias may play a role, this may be the best batch I've had to date.

I make no bones about the fact that, personally, this stuff hits all the right notes for me. I love what Willett does with their ryes. Even at a young age, they've managed to make complex, interesting and, most importantly, delicious rye whiskey, and I won't ever hesitate to grab a bottle when I find one, even if it's just to have another in reserve.

Grade: A

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