Thursday, August 2, 2012

Willet 25yo Rye Barrel 1372

Willet Distillery

I recently visited Willet Distillery. Willet distillery was founded on a farm outside Bardstown in 1935 by Thompson Willet, and operated until the early 80's. The property of the distillery was purchased by the founders son-in-law, Even G Kulsveen and the world was introduced to a company called Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. KBD operates as what us scotch drinkers would call an independent bottler, which is buying whiskey from other distilleries and then maturing and bottling it until they find it to be right time. I was told by their distillery staff that they actually went one step further than this, by actually sending their own staff into other distilleries and producing their own make. A bit similar to a ghost brewery like Mikkeler!

Until now that is. Willet Distillery reopened here in 2012

Willet Distillery. The Tower hosts the column still

Bottom of the column still

Willet Potstill

Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries are behind many labels of bourbons and ryes. If you see a label, that you can't obviously connect to a real specific distillery, chances are great, that the whiskey was bottled by or sourced through KBD. 

The Willet itself is just one of very many KBD labels. It's a range of single casks bourbon and ryes in all imaginable ages and should be considered a KBD top shelf product. So far this has proved to be one of my favourite ranges.

1. Willet Rye Barrel #1372 25yo 47%
Distilled 10th May 1983

 I found a bottle of this at Limburg festival. Limburg is an abundance whisky. Thousands of bottlings. But not much bourbon. I reckon I was able to locate just a handful of bottles. This was one of them, and the sample bottle was all the stand had. Not possible to purchase a bottle. But I talked them into to selling me the dreg, probably around a third of a bottle.

 The colour is dark, even for a bourbon. The first thing that meets me is this fantastic floor varnish old liquid wood nose with a notable rye hint in the background. Simply fantastic and one of those legendary noses you just can sit back and sniff forever. 
 The palate is magnificient complex....
It's dry in a sense like the whiskey is jumpings off your tongue. Licorise, oriental flowers, floral rye spicyness, perfumes, all on a background of loads of heavy delicate wood and floor varnish. 
Almost all the taste sensation is at the very back of your mouth and tongue, which is typical of old and well matured whisk(e)ys. This is a dram to savour. One of those to drink laid back with eyes closed. It's like being in heaven for a few seconds. It's a constant conflict between nosing and drinking as I really just wants to sit and nose this forever, but I also wants to sit and drink this forever. This is a prime example why I think ryes really first comes to its greatness at older ages, where the spicyness and woodyness can blend into a magnificient balance of fantastic flavours.

Rating 94


  1. Nice job talking them into the last of that bottle of Willet! Have you had the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye? I had some Willet rye distilled in 1985 that was most certainly from some of the same stocks as what's in the VWFRR, and I would imagine that your '83-distilled stuff is similar.

    The Seelbach in Louisville has a Willet bottling called Rathskeller Rye that I can't help but be sure is also from the Medley distillery (where part of the VWFRR is from and where I would guess your Willet rye is from).

  2. Hi Aaron, thanks for the info, I wasn't aware of the old willet ryes was from Medley's. I got another old rye from KBD under the Old Vintage label thats 23yo, any info that ? and also a bottling of 25yo Bitter Truth Rye where there is only a dreg left. The old Willet distillery apparently closed early eighties, do you know if any Willet bottlings are from that. I have seen a 28yo Bourbon in the label


    PS I got a couple of B batch VWFRR somewhere :-), I really like them