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Kyjd75

Fun Time at Willett yesterday

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Kyjd75

Yesterday (Monday) I traveled with Eric of Packages & More (also Mammoth Liquors in Cave City and Campbellsville) to Willett in Bardstown for a private barrel selection.  I have done quite a few barrel selections with Eric in the past but this was the first on site selection from Willett.  There were a few others also taking part who we met at the distillery.  In a nutshell, we had a great time and I was very impressed with the quality of Willett's bourbon.

 

Right off the bat I knew this was going to an interesting experience, as we went straight to one of the warehouses and climbed to the 5th floor.  I have been in a lot of rickhouses but never on the upper levels.  The barrels we sampled were all setting in their respective racks along with other barrels.  No pre-pulled barrels here.

 

Willett has three bourbon mashbills: 79-7-14, 52-38-10, and 72-12-16.  We tried them all, all at 6-7 years old.  I was surprised and pleased to find how very good, and different, they were.  The 79-7-14 was sweet and smooth even at barrel proof.  Finish was relatively short, however.  The 52-38-10 was quite different as the high rye content made itself known.  However, it was very drinkable and had a nice lingering finish.  This was my favorite although it was not the one we as a group selected.  The 72-12-16 was the oldest we tried at 7 years.  It had the nicest nose, and I would describe as combining the best elements of the previous barrels we had sampled.  This is the one that was selected for purchase, although there was support for all three recipes.

 

They also had wheat bourbon aging, and we got to sample that as well.  Not available yet for private selection but it was very good.  We also tried their 6 year old rye and it was, literally, fantastic.  It was available for selection but we had come to pick a bourbon, so we let that pass for another day.

 

I also want to compliment the good folks at Willett, especially Jessica and Josh, who made the entire experience fun and low key.  Climbing through the warehouses and up and down the floors was a new experience.  And FYI, Jessica (their national brand manager) told me that everything Willett is bottling now is their own stuff.  They are making about 75 barrels a day at the distillery and are building new warehouses (as is everyone in Bardstown).  The place has certainly changed a lot since I first started going there and the days of the very old bourbons purchased from other producers are clearly over.  But if what we tasted is representative of what they are making overall, then the future looks bright for Willett.  Photos:

 

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PhantomLamb

Very cool, thanks for sharing!

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CardsandBourbon

I knew I should have stowed away in your car trunk.  LOL!

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clearmoon247

So, does that mean that things like Rowan's Creek and Noah's Mill are now all Willett distilled product?

Will there be any way to differentiate between sourced and Willett made?

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Kyjd75
15 minutes ago, clearmoon247 said:

So, does that mean that things like Rowan's Creek and Noah's Mill are now all Willett distilled product?

Will there be any way to differentiate between sourced and Willett made?

From what I was told, everything is now Willett made, including the labels you mentioned.  I specifically asked about Noah's Mill, for example, and was told that yes, it used to be a blend of 4 to 15 year old sourced bourbon.  But now it is a blend of 4 to 7 year old Willett bourbons.  Jessica was pretty emphatic that the days of using sourced bourbons were gone.  I asked if there were any sourced barrels still around, and she said "very few, if any."  The barrel selection we made yesterday is going to be bottled as a Willett Family Estate bottling.

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EarthQuake

It's very encouraging to hear that they have 6-7 year old bourbon. It's exciting to see the new-ish producers like Willett getting past the 2-3 year old "craft" stage and close to a point where they can begin to compete with the larger distilleries on age statements.

 

I've not had any of their Bourbon yet, outside Willett Pot Still (which was not great), but the 4 year old rye is awesome and I can't wait to try it at 5, 6, 7 years old. Very excited about a 7 year bourbon too of course.

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flahute

I was there in August for a barrel selection and found the high corn low entry proof bourbon to be fantastic and we picked that. We were going to also select a rye but found a traditional recipe bourbon we really liked and went with that as well.

 

They do still have plenty of sourced barrels but are wisely parceling them out more judiciously as only WFE. It makes no sense to use them in the KBD brands unless they have flaws that can be blended out.

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Kyjd75

Great if they do still have some sourced bourbon, but they were pretty insistent with us that they were only using their own stuff now in everything, including WFE (which is what our barrel is going to be).  I did not go and check every floor in every rickhouse, so obviously who really knows what they have stashed away.

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dwolf
8 hours ago, flahute said:

I was there in August for a barrel selection and found the high corn low entry proof bourbon to be fantastic and we picked that. We were going to also select a rye but found a traditional recipe bourbon we really liked and went with that as well.

 

They do still have plenty of sourced barrels but are wisely parceling them out more judiciously as only WFE. It makes no sense to use them in the KBD brands unless they have flaws that can be blended out.

Are these the Bob's  barrels? 

Edited by dwolf

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flahute
36 minutes ago, dwolf said:

Are these the Bob's  barrels? 

They will be yes. They are not in yet. 

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clearmoon247

Out of curiosity, what is the price per bottle from the WFE Bourbon pick?

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0895
2 hours ago, clearmoon247 said:

Out of curiosity, what is the price per bottle from the WFE Bourbon pick?

Seems like $499.99 based on what retailers have been charging.

😉

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ThirstyinOhio

I'm very envious...Willett is the last distillery on my list to do a barrel pick at and I'm beginning to think that it'll never happen.  They refuse to come into Ohio with any products, for some reason unknown to me, so unless I move, I doubt I'll get the chance.  

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