- 106.8 Proof
- 4 Years
I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I love the Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye! Any time I see it on the shelf, so long as it's not marked up as I've seen, I always grab one. Of course I try to make sure it's a new batch before I bring it home with me. I have to justify writing a review of the same product over and over again somehow, and the variety in batches allows me to do just that.
I wish I had some backstory here, but I've managed to amass a backlog of these bottlings as a result of the above-described behavior. I'm not sure where I picked this one up, but I can confidently say I got it at the expected price, which is unfortunately more than it was just a couple years ago, but that's the world we're living in. All I know is that going in I already knew I was going to love it, because I haven't found one yet that I don't. So, take this incredibly biased review with a grain of salt, because I'm not going to have much bad to say at all.
The nose was a bit different than past bottlings. It had the pine and brown sugar that seems to be a staple of these ryes. It also had the cinnamon spice that I've come to expect, as well as more of a black pepper to kick the spice level up a bit. What set it apart, though, was a rich coffee note. I can't recall getting that aroma from previous bottles, but it was certainly there. And as a heavy coffee drinker, I found it very much to my liking.
As to flavor, this was certainly more on the expected side. I got a very healthy amount of sweet cinnamon, coupled with a strong brown sugar note. It was very pastry or dessert-like in this respect. It also had the pine notes from the nose, which seemed to mingle with a rich candied-cherry note.
The finish was where the spice came through, providing not only the cinnamon spice, but also that black pepper spice I got from the nose, which seemed to linger at the back of my throat. The finish was certainly spicy and sweet all at once, with those spicy notes mixing with the cherry, reminding me of a Dr. Pepper, a flavor which stuck around long after each swallow.
I wished the coffee from the nose had made its way to the palate. That could have been incredible. That said, I was far from wanting with this one. In fact, despite being on the lower end of the proof scale for these WFE ryes, this was one of the better batches I could recall. The balance of sweet and spicy was on point, the pine was more muted than in previous bottles I've had and I loved the pastry note that really came forward. Of course there's some recency bias there, but it was (of course) delicious!