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The reviewed sample is from a bottle owned by @Nock. Thank you, @Nock. I do not know the exact opening date of the bottle, nor its fill level. This Willett Family Reserve Rye, at barrel strength from a single barrel, was from sourced distillate aged by the Willett staff. I do not know the distillery of origin
Nose: moderately strong intensity which becomes very strong after 10 minutes in the glass; delicious dark-fruity (plums, black raspberries, currants, black cherries) rye nose with an overlay of floral perfume and spice of cloves, black pepper, allspice and cassia. Very nice. Water raises the pitch and brings out high-pitched sweetness, but diminishes complexity. Score: 23/25 neat; 22.5/25 with water added.
Taste: rich clean spicy rye, with the fruits and perfume from the nose also manifesting on the palate. Wood influence is strong, but is very well balanced by the strength of the yeast-modified rye grain flavours, viz. the dark fruits and flowers. Strong intensity of all of the flavours. Water added emphasizes the wood flavours. Score: 22.5/25 neat; 22.0 with water added.
Finish: long and strong finish, dying late on some sour wood flavours. Water diminishes the sour component on the finish, but weakens the grain flavours. Score: 22/25 neat; 21/25 with water added.
Balance: this is the classic upscale US rye profile, featuring fruit, spice, and oak, with some floral elements added. Four years in new oak in the hands of the Willett staff gives a very mature product, far past the quality of most brands. Score: 23/25 neat; 21/25 points with water.
Total Sequential Score: 90.5 points neat; 86.5 points with water added.
Strength: strong in the nose; very strong flavours on the palate. Score: 23.5/25 points
Quality: excellent grain flavours; very good grain flavours. Score: 23/25 points
Variety: very good variety throughout the tasting phases. Score: 23/25 points
Harmony: very good harmony on the nose, excellent harmony on the delivery, good to very good harmony on the finish: Score: 22/25 points
Total Non-Sequential Score: 91.5 points
Comment: I titled this review "Outlier" to highlight that these Willett Family Estate Bottles are now rare. Almost everything they produce turns out best in class, even at 2 years old. Three or Four years ago I could buy these in a liquor store. I cannot do so now. In fact, Willett Family Estate Bourbons and Ryes, all single barrels at barrel strength, are so rare and scalped that a person cannot even reliably buy a single bottle of any one of them even at their distillery of origin. You can tour the distillery, but Willett Family Estate bottles are only available very rarely for sale, even at the distillery. Why? Because they are all worth 3 to 6 times their value for anyone who succeeds in buying one. The Willett/KBD= Kentucky Bourbon Distillers people are still trying to figure out how to distribute these bottles. I am glad that I have several of them on hand already, because I do not know how to buy any more of them. If you get the chance to buy one at a non-scalper's price, do so.