Beginning this year, Willett started to release limited offerings of their very own 4 year bourbon at their gift shop. While some may frown at the young age, I find it interesting to taste the future of the Willett Family Estate line.
Admittedly, Willett is my favorite distillery and only a portion of that has to do with their hyper aged sourced wheated bourbons being some of the best whiskey I ever tasted. Or that their bottle packaging is the creme de la crème in the industry. I simply love their distillery. Willett doesn’t look or feel like the big distilleries in the state, and I like that. It has much more of a smaller, family feel, which is just starting to truly grow into their own.
Barrel #: 523
Tasted: Neat, via a 2oz sample
Unlike some of the other 4 year bourbons that Willett released, this particular juice entered the barrel at 110 proof which is considerably lower. The mashbill is assumed to be 72% corn, 15% malted barley, and 13% rye and the barrel was aged on the first floor.
Nose: First thing that stood out was the youthfulness on the nose. Still get faint notes like I’m smelling white dog. Maybe this is due to the slower aging process on the first floor? Also get spice. Pepper. Malt. Then those common sweet notes of vanilla and caramel. Little licorice and fresh wood. I actually enjoy this nose.
Palate: Very interesting. That malt on the nose comes through on the palate (in a good way) and a little cocoa. Smooth on the palate. Licorice. Strong on the rye spice. Vanilla. This doesn’t taste like your regular bourbon. Some interesting notes that changed with more air. At the end I was getting much more of the rye and vanilla.
Finish: Medium finish. Rye spice and caramel. Again, with the licorice that stays around in the finish.
Grade: 83 – 86 (B) = Good, Not a “must”, but a nice-to-have
The future is bright at Willett! I enjoyed this bourbon. Sure it is young, and needs more time in the barrel, but it already tastes good. This is the only bottle of their 4 year bourbon that I have tasted, but I assume that the higher proof, higher floor bourbons they have released this year have some bolder flavors to them?
If you are a bourbon geek, and want to taste the beginning of something special, try to score one of these 4 year bourbons (easier said then done). I know I’m in the minority with this, but give me a bottle of young 100% Willett bourbon over their 10-14 year sourced bourbon. Yes, the older stuff tastes better. However, there is just something about this youthful juice that provides a nice change of pace for me. Almost all the bourbon I drink is a “finished” product. Ranging from 8 to 20+ years. What makes this pour fun is that it isn’t finished. My mind can drift as I think about what more years will do to this juice from my favorite distillery. It is almost like I’m a master distiller tasting a very first run of bourbon during the excruciatingly long aging process. Kind of cool! The bonus is that the bourbon already tastes pretty darn good. Cheers!Bourbon, bourbon blog, bourbon ranking, bourbon review, cleveland, review, whiskey, Whiskey blog, Whiskey review, willett family estate, Willett Family Estate 4 Year Bourbon #523