Willett Family Estate #5227 - 8 Year Bourbon Review
Ahh, the elusive purple top. While I've owned and enjoyed many supposed incognito Willett bourbons, enjoyed Rowan's Creek and Noah's Mill thoroughly, this bottle has been impossible to put on my shelf... For good reason. They don't make a ton of this stuff. It's only the whiskey that is deemed worthy of bearing the Willett family crest. The motto listed below the crest reads 'God and my work'. I was excited enough to get to try this one that I didn't bother waiting for some kind of special occasion, so you are getting the notes from two of the first two pours I've experienced on this one.
Company on Label: Willett
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 79% Corn, 7% Rye, 14% Malted Barley
Age: 8 years
Further identification: This is the High Corn single barrel from the New Hampshire Liquor Outlet, barrel # 5227 which released in April 2022
Nose: Distinct flashy tannic oak upfront on my first nosing. Great maple syrup funk that shows off some deep barrel character. Sweet vanilla gives a viscous coating to the surface of a sweet maraschino cherry. There's a lovely marshmallow characteristic that reminds me of the type of influence that sour mash or toasted barrel influences tend to add. Plum, anise, white pepper and cinnamon flash up. The nose on this is quite unique and the high corn mash bill definitely doesn't do the distinct Willett rye citrus experience I am used to enjoying and loving. The overall aroma reminds me a bit of Parker's Heritage wheat whiskey, interestingly. There's a creamy molasses note on long inhales after a soft swirl of the glass. The base aroma is again one that leans on a oily, viscous oak nose. The oily characteristic reminds me of the smell of unground coffee beans and a dust seems to cover everything including a tiny bit of lemon peel zest. Time for a sip!
Coming back to the nose I find distinct toffee, sweet tart and a faint orange marmalade. Cherry skins and nut-forward chocolate grace the glass which should certainly smell hotter than it does, but I have no problem leaving my nose in this glass. The empty glass smells of clear smoke, sharp oak, creamy caramel, and rich nutmeg.
Palate: My first sip is an absolute nuke on a fresh palate. Cherry hots and cinnamon zap every taste bud in my mouth at the start. It quickly settles into a similar flavor profile as the nose was putting off: incredibly oily, viscous and rich oak leans towards a toasted marshmallow flavor. Another sip is just as flavorful and explosive with deep raisin flavors. It's quite musty upfront - it's got a really unique flavor profile that has a lot of parallels but never any direct equivalents. There's smoky malt, dark walnut, leather and then suddenly the fruit show up. The incredibly delicious cranberry and raspberry blend takes me to the Carver bogs just beginning to float. There's definitely some tannic grape flavors lingering in the background too. The mouth feel is very slightly minty and the cooling effect of that is definitely felt up in my gums. My last sip is nutty and tart with a long linger of nutmeg and yummy craisins.
(Decent. I can go either way on this.)
While this was a really delicious pour, my Willett bar is set pretty high. Given my love for the straight rye releases and the Wheated mash bill that I've tried previously, I have some background in tasting through their fantastic distillate. The high corn mash bill here slightly missed the mark to become an exceptional whiskey, in my book something I also found in the last high corn mash bill that I tried (barrel 2071). The company I was with when I opened the bottle thoroughly enjoyed the glass I poured for them, so that's a win in my book. Let me know if you've opened and tried this one yet in the comments!