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Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon 6 Years

A sophisticated vanilla bomb...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

23rd Oct 2013


Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon 6 Years
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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I may just be scratching the surface with this company, but I’ve already fallen in love with Willett. They bottle some of the finest American whiskies I’ve ever had. Apparently they’re quite hard to find back in the States, and are often very sought-after. There’s none to be found in Taiwan either, but luckily for me Japan is a haven for top-notch bourbon. As part of a recent exchange with my good friend CanadianNinja, I managed to get my hands on this beautiful 6 year old expression, and thank the whiskey gods I did! This stuff is bottled at 59.8% and comes from barrel 6804, opened for a month.

Nose: Dark and oaky, with vanilla, maple, licorice, coconut, orange, toast, and roasted almonds. Rye and truckload of baking spices come in next. Cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, menthol, and chocolate. The wood here is absolutely wonderful. It’s dusty and musty. The rocking chair in the stuffy attic kind of wood note, which I love. A subtle and beautiful sweetness is also here. It’s dark and burnt and caramelized and lovely. A mild burn, just sharp enough to remind us of the high abv. This is a big and deep nose that promises big and deep flavours. Endlessly complex and inticing.

Palate: I immediately notice the texture. Creamy but not too thick. Fruits are behind it. Oranges and apples, primarily. Working around the fruits is a mint chocolate note. Wow. Big vanilla, as in vanilla pudding and crème brûlée. Big baking spices and rye transition us into the finish.

Finish: That vanilla just keeps going. Baileys Irish Cream. Dark chocolate, big orange, caramel, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, Christmas cake. The musty oak note is drying and somewhat bitter, which balances out the vanilla and mint chocolate. Medium finish, with vanilla, orange, and cream dominating.

To a certain degree, I’ve been losing interest in bourbon lately. Primarily because so many bourbons come off as cloying and too sweet for me. This bottle has renewed my faith. It has a dark, caramel sweetness that is subdued and rich. The wood notes are dusty and bitter, and offer the perfect level of counterbalance. And there’s seemingly an endless supply of fruits, spices, and other complimentary flavours. Ohhhhh that vanilla! Not to mention the lovely texture.

Overall, this whiskey oozes craftsmanship, quality, and sophistication. The complexity here is astounding, as is the balance. Nothing here is off key. My only complaint might be that the finish isn’t as powerful or long as I wanted it to be. The high abv and intensity of the flavours should give it a bit more of a lasting presence at the end. But that’s a minor criticism of a major whiskey. This is so good it may just outshine my beloved Booker’s. It’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous bourbon.

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CanadianNinja commented

Very pleased that you like this one my friend! It seems that your feelings for this whisky have matched mine for the Kavalan Solist Sherry. I am almost down to half a bottle... This is one whisy that I'll be looking to replace ; )

10 years ago 0

hunggar commented

Hah, I'm eagerly awaiting the moment that you to finish that bottle, buddy! This stuff is great, but I'll likely grab something different for our next round. There's such a world of bourbon up there to explore I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I browse through those online options!

10 years ago 0

Lifewaterforce commented

Very intrigued to buy this, as i've run out of ryes in my whisky collection, good review btw!

10 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Lifewaterforce, keep in mind, if you do succeed in getting some Willett Family Estate private barrel whiskeys, whether they be bourbons or ryes, that these barrels have their own unique personalities, and one is not likely to be very close in character to another. The Willett private barrels are usually excellent.

10 years ago 0