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Willett Straight Rye Whiskey

Willett-Rye                                           Willett is best known by Whiskey drinkers for it’s Pot Still Reserve Bourbon, and then more for the bottle than the actual juice.  The Pot Still got mixed reviews from Talking Bourbon.

This is the first we have tried Willett Family Estate, Small Batch, Straight Rye Whiskey. They have ages running from 2 to 8 years, the bottle we are sampling was aged 2 years. Willett Rye comes in the same ordinary looking bottle that all Willett comes in, except the previously mentioned Pot Still. It is bottled at 107.7 proof, sells for around $38 for the 750 ML and can be found at most places that sell higher end spirits.


Todd:  My first thought was Irish Whiskey. I don’t think I ever smelled a Rye like this and I don’t necessarily say that in a good way. Going beyond the Irish Whiskey I picked up some almonds, honey, malt and a slight banana scent. Just okay.

Ron:  Strong hot nose that actually tickled my nose hairs. Ignoring that I picked up aromas of spice, cedar, and anise. Also got hints of yeast and leather. All in all a decent nose.


Todd:  Very hot neat, needs water or melted ice. Got pretty much what I got on the nose with almonds, malt and that crazy Irish whiskey thing leading the way. I got a slight taste of some kind of grain or toast lingering in the back ground.

Ron:  Like Todd, I found the tastes very similar to the smells. Getting cedar, anise and spice along with citrus and tobacco as the dominant tastes. Coming in behind that was honey and that same toast like taste that Todd got. And while I hate to keep agreeing with Todd, if I didn’t know better I would swear I was drinking an Irish Whiskey.


Todd:  A nutty medium long finish.

Ron:   Medium long with not much change in the taste.


Todd:  I want to say that I love Irish Whiskey. Now having said that, when I buy a Rye I want it to taste like a Rye not like a bottle of Jamison’s. In fact, I like Jamison’s better than this. Anyway, I wasn’t blown away by the nose or the finish. The taste had some complexity but still lacked something.

Ron:  I liked it better than Todd, even though it does remind one of Irish Whiskey. Not sure I would buy it again.

Nose  3.25 out of 5

Taste  7.5 out of 10

Finish  3.25 out of 5

Total score     14 out of 20 Barrels

Some final thoughts on our review of Willett Rye, First, $38 is way too much to pay for a 2 year old Whiskey. Second, if you are going to charge that amount you better have an outstanding product which this is not. And third, a straight Rye should taste like Rye!


Willett Pot Still Reserve

Willett-Pot-Still-Reserve                                                                                Today we are tasting the Pot Still Reserve from Willett. It checks in at 94 proof with no age statement that we could find. If you have never seen this stuff, it comes in what has to be one of the coolest bottles out there. Looks like a wine decanter, and we both have actually used it for that.

While hard to find at times, it can be found in most liquor stores that have a good Bourbon selection. Usually around the $40 range, even though we have seen it higher.


Todd:   It has a pretty strong nose, with grain, oak and alcohol the most prominent. This is followed by a toffee like sweetness.

Ron:   I got a lot more on the nose than Todd. I could detect leather, pine, cedar as well as caramel and like Todd, alcohol.


Todd:   Tasting it neat first, as we both do, I thought it was a little rough, especially at that price. While I could taste some of the sweetness, it mostly just tasted hot. On the other hand, let a cube or two of ice melt a little in the glass and you have a very different Whiskey. Now the sweet toffee and oak have a chance to shine.

Ron:   Tasting neat I thought a little hot, but still had nuances of spice and wood. Adding one rock, and letting it almost melt, brought out vanilla, even more spice and just an over all mellowness that I enjoyed.


Todd:  It has a pretty long finish neat or with rocks. I still had a lingering taste 60 seconds after sipping.

Ron:    The Pot Still Reserve has a nice long warm finish.


Todd:    This is what I categorize as a traditional Bourbon, meaning it is Corn, Rye, with a little barley. Also a fairly complex drink.

Ron:   I definitely enjoyed my glass and would buy again.

Nose       3 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish      4 out of 5

Total Score     14 out of 20 Barrels

This one was a hard one for us. At 94 proof we shouldn’t have to add so much water to bring out the taste. On the other hand, it is pretty good stuff once the water is added. There is also the issue of price. At $20, this might just be our go to classic style Bourbon, at $40, not so sure. There is a lot of good Bourbon in that $40 range.

This is still a Bourbon we would recommend having a bottle of in your collection. As said, it is sometimes hard to find and has a real cool bottle to impress your friends with.