Recently in a nice package from Ewald (of the Usquebaugh Society) I got a sample of Willett Singel Barrel Rye 25 year old, from 1983. There were very nice samples in that package, also the other two George T. Staggs in the head to head post.
Willett is a rather unknown distillery from Kentucky, to me at least. I’ve read its name in the occasional magazine or in some reviews, but you don’t find many of their bottles at your local whisky specialist. This rye was my introduction to their range.
Red chilli peppers and pink peppercorns at first. After a minute I get wet bread crusts with more dried peppers. The typical rye scent is in the background, but the spices that usually go with a rye whiskey are there. Its very different from Sazeracs and Rittenhouses I know.
At first I get a huge hit of cherries, with toast. Also some tree bark and curry spices. A lot of sweet spices are present which makes for a very high complexity. After a few minutes it starts to look like a more typical rye whiskey with cinnamon, clove and pepper.
On the nose I got a rather hard to point out smell that did ring a bell, but I couldn’t find which one. I missed that in the taste, but here its back. Some clove again, and quite some wood influences. The rye flavours linger for quite some time. I think I also get some fruitiness somewhere…
This is, again, a very nice old rye. Everytime I taste a properly aged rye whiskey, I fall more in love with its style, complexity and many layers of flavours. I might have to start spending a little more on that section of my collection and a bit less on ‘bottles I buy because I wanted to buy something’. To be honest, at € 137, the price is acceptable for an aged Rye whiskey, compared to Rittenhouse, for example.
Willett Single Barrel Rye, 25 years old, 47%/94 proof, 5/10/1983, barrel #1372, €137 at OnlyBourbon.nl
Overal experience: 9
Total: 35 points