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Willett Family Estate #2304 - 10 Year Single Barrel Rye Whiskey Review - "LJ Chug-a-lug"

Willett Family Estate 10 Year Rye

Quite rare are the opportunities to pick a barrel of Willett Family Estate. As far as I know, this is actually the only non-distributor pick that a store was allowed to do in the great state of Massachusetts this year. Liquor Junction got the nod as one of the best liquor stores to come pick a barrel and I'm beyond thrilled that they let me come along to help taste through samples. When I later learned that my good friend Frank Dobbins, one of the best palates in whiskey, had never done a Willett pick I immediately extended the invite. It was such a pleasure getting to know him better and watching him work through our tasting.

We tasted through somewhere north of a dozen barrels with Josh before settling on the sample that I said "smelled like the inside of a battleship". Hilariously, this comment was met with a "what the f%$& are you talking about?" from Josh. To my credit, he has never experienced that smell before, so the aroma-induced memory wasn't there for him. We laughed for hours, but always stayed focused on picking the best whiskey. The year prior, it was a 9 year OG mash bourbon we named "LJ Engine #9" after the legendary Roger Miller song. This year, a 10 year rye stood out so we went back in for round 2 with Roger Miller on the vintage hit Chug-a-lug. Now let's get into if this whiskey is worth your time and attention. Keep in mind that since I picked this barrel, I will not be giving it a numerical score at the end, so you'll have to read between the lines more than usual here. In general, I would only endorse a whiskey I am absolutely thrilled with as I consider my own opinion to be thoroughly honest. On with the notes!


Company on Label: The Willett Distillery

Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 74% Rye, 11% Corn, 15% Malted Barley

Proof: 118.6°

Age: 10 years

Further identification: This is a barrel select that I did with @BourbYourEnthusiasm and @LiquorJunction back in April of 2023; this barrel came from Warehouse A, Floor 4, Rick 12N, and are currently available through Liquor Junction's punch program


Nose: Sweet lemon frosting & gunmetal jump out at me first. Barrel funk seeps into every corner of the glass showing off its age. This is vintage style, low proof rye at its finest. Sweet caramel and low, rumbling, thick raspberry jam tones with all the seeds and bits. Aromas of leather, clay and a shoebox full of sepia-toned memories give this a consistent feeling of being vintage & old. Hints of seared shishito peppers give off great depth before the glass returns to a creamy dream. The nose on this is just divine. Late in the glass cherry juice, prune and Angostura bitters can be pulled from the depths while marshmallow barrel char tones provide a comforting backdrop. The empty glass smells of parsley, butter and raspberry.

Palate: At first sip I find fits of fruit. Lemon rind, blood orange, pineapple and plum create a head-scratching incredibly unique profile for any whiskey. Another sip is incredibly zesty with more lemon peel, clove and allspice dancing on the tongue. The linger that follows is immediately creamy with soft, buttery croissant notes. A longer sip and swish reveals cinnamon raisin bread and a wide array of things tumbling out of the spice cabinet. I love how this works all around my mouth from the tangy fruit up front to the spice along the edges of the tongue and then the creamy finish from center to back. Mmm. Sipping late in the glass reveals rolling sweet tones of rum cake and grape skins. The last sip is layered and juicy with pear, pie crust, whipped cream and a cascade of nutmeg across the long finish.

TL;DR: Vintage funk, creamy and sweet


Rating: Crushworthy

This is one of my favorite ryes in the whiskey study right now and I'm finding that this bottle is likely not long for the world. Let me know down in the comments what your experience with Willett rye has been.

Willett Family Estate 10 Year Rye



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