Monday, April 22, 2013

Blind Tasting Selection #2: Willett Straight Rye, Aged 4 Years

The Willett brand is released by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers located in Bardstown, KY.  They recently started distilling, but for a number of years they occupied an interesting segment of the bourbon
Sample pic, because I wasn't smart
enough to take pics of the
bottles before I tossed them.
market: They purchased barrels of whiskey from other distilleries and released them as single barrel, cask strength selections under the Willett brand or blended them to create something (hopefully) greater than the sum of its parts. They release a number of of these brands, including Noah's Mill and Johnny Drum.

This barrel of straight rye is from Indiana based distiller MGPI (former LDI). MGPI does not sell any of its whiskey at the retail level, but you've probably tasted it. Many micro-distilleries are buying MGPI juice to fill their bottles while their own new make ages. 

Anyhow, this bottle straight rye was 110 proof and aged 4 years. Let's see the notes:

Average: 85.75


Appearance: Slightly pale in color

Nose: sweet white grapes, vaguely like a dessert wine; hints of leather on second extended sniff after tasting

Taste: toffee, nice sweetness without seeming cloying or syrupy, quite hot. Rounds out some as I taste it more.

Finish: short with a kind of apple tartness

Thought this one was generally quite good, though something keeps me from loving it. Maybe just a bit tart for my tastes. Lot of its good qualities are similar to Pappy 15. That (and especially a nice mellow sweetness mid-palate) makes me suspect it's a wheater, guessing around 100 proof.


Bubblegum, a little bit of vanilla. Very thin and sweet. No spice. Some tropical fruit (I can't figure out which) and bubblegum. Medium finish, sweet, fruity favors linger. 89


nose: rich, smooth, sweet, almost chocolaty

taste: same sweet and chocolate notes carry over to the taste; little bit of burn on the tongue and some oak, too

finish: finish is warm but never really develops beyond the initial impression; still the oak

overall: first swirl in the glass had me hoping for something big; in the end, not bad, not great - 82


Nose: Caramel & butterscotch, hint of barrel char and sweetness. Thought it was an outstanding nose

Taste: Velvet and soft mouth feel, nicely balanced vanilla and cream. Some mustiness on the front end

Finish: Some toffee, but fades too quickly.

Overall: 84, loses points for mustiness.

Not Tasting: Kyle, Jason

Interesting result here as no one picked out the minty note typically associated with MGPI juice. Interesting enough to wonder if there was a labeling mistake here.  I don't think that's the case, but we'll know if we get a mint bomb in a subsequent sample.

That said, it could be that we got a bottle from a barrel that didn't develop that way. 85.75 isn't a bad score for a four year old whiskey--given a few more years in a barrel this MGPI juice could really develop nicely.

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