I'm back on the Willett train again tonight - quite fitting for the trendy #WillettWednesday movement on Instagram. I've previously tasted this one on the fresh crack but I'm here to revisit and offer some deeper thoughts than some front porch ramblings. Speaking of ramblings... I think I'll just get right into the whiskey now. Let's go!
Company on Label: Willett
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 72% Corn, 13% Rye, 15% Malted Barley
Age: 8 years
Further identification: This is a Dion's single barrel #8147 that I purchased in August of 2022; one of the store managers told me that this is an OG mash bill; this barrel yielded 208 bottles and I am drinking from my lucky number bottle #9
Nose: Funky, heavy caramel greets my nose first and foremost. Bright oak, paper and vanilla mingle gently on a deeper inhale. It noses light like the proof point might suggest. Mmm, a deeper dive of the nose produces candied cherry, plum and creamy, viscous grape clafoutis. Wow, a big shockwave of oak just emanated from the glass. Now I get much more dusty tones, ground black pepper, green pepper, saffron and cardamom. There are hints of chocolate throughout and always the sumptuous fruit we started with as the glass opened to an inquisitive nose. Time to go in for a sip!
Returning my nose to the glass I begin to find graham cracker and quite the big wave of impassable dusty vanilla. I continue to beat my nose against this wall of dusty, bright characteristics but it keeps turning me nose-blind at every attempt. Thanksgiving cooking herbs begin to settle in alongside the black pepper notes later in the glass. Think parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage in an intricate introductory wave as if you've just stepped in the door to a home that is cooking, making you keenly aware of the presence of good food. Wow, this funky fun just keeps on producing; now I'm onto a creamy gingerbread with a butterscotch sauce. It's buttery and delectable now. I wasn't quite hooked until now... but now I certainly am. A deep inhale as the glass nears empty shows off more of the funky barrel influence that comes out of nowhere other than Bardstown, Kentucky. It's the oak, but it's also a unique blend of citrus and clove. The empty glass smells of open plains, milk chocolate, soft cornfields, and just a hint of pleasant rubber.
Palate: Whew, where the nose started light, this starts with a bang! Cherry hots sizzle on the top of the tongue as a soft, juicy pear and grapefruit co-mingle in the background. Another sip builds in a touch of lemon peel, tingling bright vanilla and sweet kiwi frozen yogurt. Overall I get a similar herbal mouth feel to a sip of cooled tea. A good sip and swish produces a great cherry sweetness that is quickly laden with clove, molasses, raisin and a heavy red raspberry jam. This is truly a delight to sip on; the sweet fruit mingle perfectly as a well aged barrel should. I find a brief zing of lemon and ginger that darts across my tongue. It at times has the spice and heft of whiskeys beyond its age and proof. As I sip towards the bottom of the glass the cherry turns a touch darker now ditching the candied cherry facade for a rich, ripe black cherry. There is a slightly tannic linger up in the gums. It's as if you've had a bottle of red wine with dinner and you're just now aware that your teeth may be stained as you search nervously with your tongue. My last sip of the glass produces a big wave of plum, raisin, blackberries and caramel. The mouth feel is thicker now more than ever as the sips build upon each other. The linger is medium with a soft draw down from a slightly earthy caramel bar.
Though this one falls just short of a true 'wow' factor whiskey for me, I did completely enjoy every moment of this glass. While I wouldn't put this in my top 5: this definitely earns a 'Keep Amongst the Whiskey' rating from me, and I am very glad to have plenty more to share with guests, as well as a backup bottle that I am going to be sharing with Spirit Animal Society Patreons. I really tossed and turned between the 5 rating here, writing it and scribbling it out in digital form with the backspace key countless times. Because I couldn't quite place why it doesn't deserve a 5, I inevitably settled on that score here. This distillate, these flavors, and the pours that also have previously ranked at a 5 are all present. I was also willing to pour another 2 small sips after finishing my review to settle the score, so this is definitely an enjoyable whiskey through and through. Based on my experience I would anticipate that this whiskey will drink even better come Winter in New England. Cheers to a great pick Dion's & cheers to the great distillate and skill coming out of Willett Distillery.