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The Good Sir

Willett XCF 103.4 Proof

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JonRob

I tried it the other night at a friends house. It's exactly like you all can imigian. LDI rye with a splash of GM. It was really good, just not $150 of my money good. I much rather have two bottles of AE Rye for the price.

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The Black Tot
As disappointed as I am by the price of this I guess in the cold light of day I have to accept that producers are starting to charge more (especially the NDPs it seems) if the market seems to warrant it whether the value is really there or not (After all value is largely based on what someone will pay) and I suppose it is good they are getting a bigger cut of the flipper mark up for themselves. Although I am not convinced that is going to have any real impact on flippers. With things as they are currently in the whiskey market the flippers are likely to point to the MSRP and say that is more than enough justification to charge even more. And they will probably get it in this case as Willett has built up enough cachet to be considered a desirable brand name based on some of the quality bottles they have produced in the past.

BMH may be an interesting test case to see how long the name brand can support over inflated prices before the quality of the product begins to erode the value of the brand. No idea how well the new Oregon sourced whiskey is selling but I see it is sold out at K&L despite its $80 price tag. Not sure how much they had to start with.

Still disappointing though!

I'm starting actually to get EXCITED about it. Part of it is the wisdom of acceptance of things I can't change, but it's also pretty clear to me that the more insane the bubble, the harder (and sooner) the coming crash.

Predominately I see the current madcap market driven primarily by two types of person (some people are both types in one):

1. People buying $500-$1000 of whiskey per week who, it is possible (and of course nobody knows but them), cannot sustain this level of expenditure and still save any money for retirement after paying all of their bills. When I see a car seat shot of $1K of whiskey in an economy car or in some of the houses I see in the backdrop, I wonder how long this can really go on. I think we have a false concept of how many stock brokers and Japanese businessmen, or even people pulling six figures are actually participating in the primary and the black markets.

2. People buying more than 5 bottles a week, who drink at most 0.5 bottles a week (and good for them! - Drinking 5 bottles of whiskey a week is certainly not going to do you any favors!).

Both of these stories have endings. Either your bank account is empty, your credit cards are maxed, your wife either drops the hammer on you or leaves, or straight up you need to buy a bigger house because there is whiskey filling every room. Even those with large incomes or substantial wealth are not exempt from problem#2. Sooner or later you don't have a bar, you have a whiskey museum. What then? You make the sober decision to not buy anymore, that's what then. Whiskey used to sit on shelves for 20 years - for the next 20 it will sit in private collections. But it will sit, and not all of it can be drunk at the rate it is currently being purchased. As I remarked the other day, if you can make it, the estate sales of the 2030s and 2040s are going to be pretty damned epic.

The heaviest hitters and biggest spenders (including, and especially, the secondary market customers) will be the first to hit their own personal walls at their own personal moments. Since they're the biggest buyers of the premium whiskeys, their withdrawal from the market will have the biggest and fastest effect on the demand for said premiums. That's BEFORE we consider that production is dimed right now, and the future will be awash in whiskey - we'll be bathing in the stuff 4-6 years from now.

A flame that burns twice as bright burns only half as long. So instead of being disappointed when the prices shoot up and people form 100+ person lines overnight at liquor stores and the gouging spirals out of control, I choose to see it as people punching themselves out in the early rounds of the fight.

Markets, and economies, are certainly not constant. Even the most skeptical among us can now see behavior in the whiskey market that cannot be identified as anything other than manic and frenzied.

Will it get worse before it gets better? Probably, but the worse it gets, the faster it speeds towards the brick wall. I'm pretty confident that by now we don't have all that long to wait (a few years at most), and until then, my bunker has enough to keep my friends and I comfortable.

And even now, the storm has several eyes - one can still buy 4R selects and the like at great value, or even other spirits (gasp :) ).

The one thing I'll be interested to see is what will happen to the gouging stores. When (not if) demand loosens for the super-premiums, there will probably be a period where they don't want to admit it and the bottles will pile up at $500 on their shelves - it could be a slow road back to MSRP in those places.

Until then, I'll keep refusing to pay more than MSRP, pass on whiskeys priced at >$8/yr aged, and I've also decided to boycott buying premium whiskey in the bars and restaurants, who as a category are muscling in on the allocations. That's the little part that I can do. Whether it makes a difference or not isn't the point, it gives me contentment.

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TunnelTiger
I much rather have two bottles of AE Rye for the price.

Or seven bottles of RITTBIB for the price. I do believe I am capable of adding my own GM.

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garbanzobean
I'm starting actually to get EXCITED about it. Part of it is the wisdom of acceptance of things I can't change, but it's also pretty clear to me that the more insane the bubble, the harder (and sooner) the coming crash.

Predominately I see the current madcap market driven primarily by two types of person (some people are both types in one):

1. People buying $500-$1000 of whiskey per week who, it is possible (and of course nobody knows but them), cannot sustain this level of expenditure and still save any money for retirement after paying all of their bills. When I see a car seat shot of $1K of whiskey in an economy car or in some of the houses I see in the backdrop, I wonder how long this can really go on. I think we have a false concept of how many stock brokers and Japanese businessmen, or even people pulling six figures are actually participating in the primary and the black markets.

2. People buying more than 5 bottles a week, who drink at most 0.5 bottles a week (and good for them! - Drinking 5 bottles of whiskey a week is certainly not going to do you any favors!).

Both of these stories have endings. Either your bank account is empty, your credit cards are maxed, your wife either drops the hammer on you or leaves, or straight up you need to buy a bigger house because there is whiskey filling every room. Even those with large incomes or substantial wealth are not exempt from problem#2. Sooner or later you don't have a bar, you have a whiskey museum. What then? You make the sober decision to not buy anymore, that's what then. Whiskey used to sit on shelves for 20 years - for the next 20 it will sit in private collections. But it will sit, and not all of it can be drunk at the rate it is currently being purchased. As I remarked the other day, if you can make it, the estate sales of the 2030s and 2040s are going to be pretty damned epic.

The heaviest hitters and biggest spenders (including, and especially, the secondary market customers) will be the first to hit their own personal walls at their own personal moments. Since they're the biggest buyers of the premium whiskeys, their withdrawal from the market will have the biggest and fastest effect on the demand for said premiums. That's BEFORE we consider that production is dimed right now, and the future will be awash in whiskey - we'll be bathing in the stuff 4-6 years from now.

A flame that burns twice as bright burns only half as long. So instead of being disappointed when the prices shoot up and people form 100+ person lines overnight at liquor stores and the gouging spirals out of control, I choose to see it as people punching themselves out in the early rounds of the fight.

Markets, and economies, are certainly not constant. Even the most skeptical among us can now see behavior in the whiskey market that cannot be identified as anything other than manic and frenzied.

Will it get worse before it gets better? Probably, but the worse it gets, the faster it speeds towards the brick wall. I'm pretty confident that by now we don't have all that long to wait (a few years at most), and until then, my bunker has enough to keep my friends and I comfortable.

And even now, the storm has several eyes - one can still buy 4R selects and the like at great value, or even other spirits (gasp :) ).

The one thing I'll be interested to see is what will happen to the gouging stores. When (not if) demand loosens for the super-premiums, there will probably be a period where they don't want to admit it and the bottles will pile up at $500 on their shelves - it could be a slow road back to MSRP in those places.

Until then, I'll keep refusing to pay more than MSRP, pass on whiskeys priced at >$8/yr aged, and I've also decided to boycott buying premium whiskey in the bars and restaurants, who as a category are muscling in on the allocations. That's the little part that I can do. Whether it makes a difference or not isn't the point, it gives me contentment.

We have a saying in my line of work: Every elite organization needs a good burning down (metaphorically speaking) every once and a while. I feel like sometimes you have to cross a line to find it. I think Willett is very close to doing that.

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ThirstyinOhio
I tracked down two bottles (paid over retail, but what the hell) and look forward to trying this. I never regret buying a bottle, but if I bought two that turn out bad, that would suck.

I had a chance to try this over the weekend and I will say that it isn't worth the MSRP, let alone the few extra bucks I paid for it. It is very orange heavy in the nose and when it first crosses the palate, fades quickly into the standard rye flavor and then has a short finish where the orange tries to make a come back. I don't think the flavors are very well integrated and the finish is slightly off putting. I'm going to work on finding a cocktail that I can integrate this into to help work my way through it.

Edited by ThirstyinOhio

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tanstaafl2
I had a chance to try this over the weekend and I will say that it isn't worth the MSRP, let alone the few extra bucks I paid for it. It is very orange heavy in the nose and when it first crosses the palate, fades quickly into the standard LDI flavor and then has a short finish where the orange tries to make a come back. I don't think the flavors are very well integrated and the finish is slightly off putting. I'm going to work on finding a cocktail that I can integrate this into to help work my way through it.

A bit sad to hear but thanks for providing the review. It's getting easier and easier to put this one in the rear view mirror!

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squire
I'm going to work on finding a cocktail that I can integrate this into to help work my way through it.

An Old Fashioned perhaps?

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TunnelTiger

So does this bottle now get the official SB member's label "Don't buy me!" attached?

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squire

I think it rather screams buy me, buy me, that'll impress your friends!

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ThirstyinOhio
An Old Fashioned perhaps?

I was thinking of doing an Old Fashioned with 2 parts some other rye and 1 part XCF but I might just make up a big jug of Tang and dump in the rest of the XCF bottle.

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tanstaafl2
I was thinking of doing an Old Fashioned with 2 parts some other rye and 1 part XCF but I might just make up a big jug of Tang and dump in the rest of the XCF bottle.

Didn't you get two of them? Save one for the gazebo table at the Sampler then we can all try it and dump on it again in a few months... :slappin:

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Tony Santana

Very interesting post, Black Tot. I agree the bubble will burst, the question is when. And while I don't fit into either of your two categories, I certainly bear some resemblance to them lately. I've spent more money than I care to admit in the past couple of months chasing the limited edition stuff (fairly successfully), but I'm not doing it at the expense of the mortgage or the retirement account. And I've bought far more than I drink - storage is starting to become an issue. I do not participate in the secondary market, shop at places that gouge, and rarely purchase expensive pours in a bar, but my buying habits have contributed in my own small way to the boom.

I'm more than willing to share my stash with friends, but at the rate I personally consume I could drink for years - hell, I could drink nothing but top shelf stuff for awhile - without purchasing another bottle. The solution? I'm slowing down the purchases, so to the extent I've contributed to the bubble, I'll also be part of the pin prick that will burst it. I'm not saying I'm not buying anymore, but I'm definitely going to be more discriminating. And that means no XCF. I already have some expensive enough on its own Willett, and some Grand Marnier if I want to do my own experimenting.

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petrel800

I tend to think that if this is anything XCF vs Willett XCF that it sits on the shelf with the Lock, Stock, and Barrel. Let's face it, Willett has a following that rivals only Pappy for it's extreme level of "fanboy." I like a good Willett as much as the next guy, but the ferocity of the buyers looking for the Willett labels is insane to me. Blind they're all a hit or miss proposition. While the XCF price doesn't strike me as a slap in the face, the 7 year LDI rye they're trying to sell for $70-80 is a slap in the face considering what SA is selling it the 8 yr old stuff for.

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DBM
I would personally like to thank Willett and Diageo for shaking me loose from the "gotta catch em all" mindset.

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ThirstyinOhio
Didn't you get two of them? Save one for the gazebo table at the Sampler then we can all try it and dump on it again in a few months... :slappin:

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Old Dusty

Stage 1: heard about this potential release on the Internet. Intrigued and fairly excited.

Stage 2: more details, including price ,released. Still intrigued but now totally unexcited.

Stage 3: determined that the QPR just wasn't there. Steeled myself to pass.

Stage 4: reading mixed results on tasting reports. More ammo to hold off.

Stage 5: really hoping I don't see one at retail. Because I know I will buy it. :grin:

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tanstaafl2
Stage 1: heard about this potential release on the Internet. Intrigued and fairly excited.

Stage 2: more details, including price ,released. Still intrigued but now totally unexcited.

Stage 3: determined that the QPR just wasn't there. Steeled myself to pass.

Stage 4: reading mixed results on tasting reports. More ammo to hold off.

Stage 5: really hoping I don't see one at retail. Because I know I will buy it. :grin:

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LCWoody

This must not be selling to good, it just showed up in my neck of the woods. We usually don't get "limited" Willetts down this away. I did get a Willett rye 114.6 proof and I'm sure it's the same juice. I think I'll use that and do what was suggested, put a couple of drops of GM in it before I buy a bottle.

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Restaurant man

The more the bourbon crazy intensifies the more I feel like willitt doesn't respect its customers. Well I've always heard that the proprietors are very passionate and friendly but their business practices seem to be the opposite. While I sympathize with their awkward position at having watched the secondary market soak up more money then they were able to get. Just seems like their prices are geared towards emptying the pockets of their customers. There's no decent willett at a decent price. Say what you want about Vanwinkle but the bourbon is good in the retail prices are good. they don't just Jackam up because they can. They can sell every bottle of Vanwinkle out of the gift shop a buffalo trace for full secondary but they don't

Edited by Restaurant man

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tanstaafl2
The more the bourbon crazy intensifies the more I feel like willitt doesn't respect its customers. Well I've always heard that the proprietors are very passionate and friendly but their business practices seem to be the opposite. While I sympathize with their awkward position at having watched the secondary market soak up more money then they were able to get. Just seems like their prices are geared towards emptying the pockets of their customers. There's no decent willett at a decent price. Say what you want about Vanwinkle but the bourbon is good in the retail prices are good. they don't just Jackam up because they can. They can sell every bottle of Vanwinkle out of the gift shop a buffalo trace for full secondary but they don't

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GaryT
I have begun to get the same feeling and have decided to look to brands other than Willett for the present as a result. How long I will keep it up I can't say. More than a week is doing well for me...

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squire
. . . I have begun to get the same feeling and have decided to look to brands other than Willett . . .

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The Black Tot

As noted above, Willett is testing their limits on pricing, and they're finding some limits, too. The 2yr rye and the XCF are in danger of lingering on shelves for a while.

I think when the madness is over Willett might return to a value brand. And while the madness was happening, I guess I'm glad it went to them and helped finance their expansion and transition to their own distillate.

Same goes for Michter's, really.

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RWBadley

I tasted this several times yesterday (lucky to have a good friend and also a great local retailer doing a 12 whiskeys of Christmas tasting) It's OK. I think it would make a great mixer, but sadly at it's price point I could not recommend it. In fact, I can whole heartedly suggest ya'all just give it pass.

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Smithford

Just piling on here, more than anything. I tried this at Delilah's last night and found it very underwhelming. I'm a fan of the underlying rye, and you could taste it, but the orange peel just sat on top fighting against it. It was almost liqueur like - it reminded me of Compass Box Orangerie.

Upthread, there was a suggestion that this might be a great cocktail ingredient, and I agree. I think it would probably make for a kick-ass Sazerac. However, that's an expensive mixer ...

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