Thanks to /u/Scotchchick for pouring me a sample of this.
A few months/years ago, I had this great idea. I’d gather up as many Willet samples as I could. They released so many different single barrel whiskies and ryes that I’d be able to do a true vertical.
And then I realized a few things: A lot of these whiskies are really hard to get. They were much beloved. And some of the actual numbers are tough. So I eventually gave up, doing a pseudo-vertical going from six to nine and then eleven years. Or as Rumoli players know it, “not worth the pennies”.
Now that I’ve alienated every person reading these who are below the age of 40 and never went to a cottage before the internet, let’s get to the point.
During this white whale quest, I happened to end up with Willett 22 2015 Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon. The idea being this would be the last one.
But what is it? Well, it’s a sourced bourbon from an unnamed distillery in Kentucky. Willett is still working on their own juice and ageing it as we speak. They also age it when we don’t speak. This was aged for 22 years, and they ended up with 94 bottles. And based on auctions I’ve seen, I’m very glad someone I know opened it and poured me a sample.
But does it taste good? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: Auction time!
Age: 22 years old
Cask Type: New American White Oak Barrel
Cask Number: B51
Number of bottles: 94
Colour: 2.5YR 4/10
Nose: Creme caramel, hot cream of wheat, molasses, floral vanilla
Immediate rich caramel and a hot cereal blast to my face. Which I thought was behind me, but I guess those videos surfaced.
Rich molasses is hinted at, yet more with water. Water also brings a floral and vanilla note. I expect more flavours, but this reminds me it’s a bourbon and going to stick to that idea of few flavours, done really, really well. Where the age on the nose comes in is a complexity of each individual flavour. Very interesting to nose.
Taste: Limeade, rich caramel, wood, candy corn, carrot, honey
Citrus. I wasn’t expecting any citrus. (Read that in an Indiana Jones “Snakes” way and it’s fun). More rich caramel, and then some wood.
Not as woody as other super old bourbons I’ve had, however, that raw table taste is there. It doesn’t dominate the flavour, and a little water brings out more of a candied carrot vibe.
Finish: Wheat, oak, dry apple, orange, peanut, lemon peel, pine
Long. Super long finish. Fruit forward, nice balance, and different types of wood now. The wood is what lingers the longest. At first, it’s a strong oak, and then it ends with pine.
So the full boreal forest is going on here.
Conclusion: Wood in many ways. It’s rare to have a simple wood flavour go to oak and then pine, and that’s the main takeaway I had after finishing this dram.
There’re aspects here I like and aspects that are a tad simple given the age. Or maybe it’s because this starts with that powerful, individual flavour vibe that most bourbons have and then goes to more of a multi-simple flavour blend on the taste and finish.
That all said, this has something for everyone. Fruit, acid, wood, big caramel/sweet aspects, and floral. And for that, I enjoyed it. The jarring between the nose and taste is the main complaint. Other than that, you know, it’s just a really good whiskey.
Bourbon review #232, Kentucky review #149, Whiskey Network review #1545