Willett 11 Bourbon (Barrel #2100) Review

This is an 11 year WFE bourbon selected by Colonial Spirits and bottled at 63% ABV.

Nose: Candied apples, brown sugar, sawdust, and cocoa powder.

Palate: Full of oak and spices – sweet notes fade rapidly as heat takes over.

Finish: Mostly cinnamon & oak – disappears quickly.

Rating: 81/100 – A fairly standard WFE barrel for me, perhaps a bit on the lower side of the quality spectrum.

Value for the Money: This retailed for around $100, and I wouldn’t buy a bottle from this particular barrel at that price.

Willett 12 Bourbon (The Party Source selection barrel #8138) Review

This is a 12 year NDP expression from Willett that was selected by The Party Source and bottled at 64.45%.

Nose: Thick vanilla with juicy fruit gum. Very sweet overall with looming ripe bananas – strikes me as Brown-Forman distillate as the profile is so similar to recent bottlings of Old Forrester Birthday Bourbon.

Palate: Vanilla pudding with banana slices drizzled in honey. Heat is intense but offset by the heavy sweet notes and lack of oak.

Finish: Burst of anise while vanilla mellows. Turns quite dry and heat intensifies gradually.

Rating: 91/100 – One of the better Willett picks I’ve had.

Value for the money: Guessing this retailed around $100-$120 and I would buy a bottle at that price. However, it’s probably $200+ on secondary now, and I would pass there.

Willett 8 Year Rye (Giftshop Barrel #1433) Review

This an 8 year NDP rye from Willett that was sold at their giftshop. It’s bottled at 57.4% ABV.

Nose: Huge rye notes with charred oak and a nice, soft lavender note to balance out the spice. Rich and buttery overall.

Palate: Sweet but peppery with damp oak, rye cereal, vanilla, toffee, and a hint of acetone.

Finish: Very dry & oak forward with rye spice lingering – fairly astringent.

Rating: 86/100

Value for the money: This was round $85 which I think is a decent price as it competes fairly well with Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye for me.

Willett 4 Year Rye Review

This is a 4 year rye bottled by Willett at 55% ABV.

Nose: Smells like pure, unadulterated rye – very similar to an Alberta Premium 100% rye profile. Like nail polish remover meets rye cereal.

Palate: Very sweet up front followed by the pure rye grain bringing some pepper and acetone.

Finish: Disappears quickly leaving hints of rye with black pepper.

Rating: 81/100 – A bit young and rough around the edges.

Value for the money: This retailed around $45 which I would pass on – definitely not worth any more than that.

Willett XCF 1.0 Review

This is a 7 year NDP rye that was finished in Grand Marnier casks and bottled at 51.7% ABV.

Nose: Subtle rye with huge sweeping notes of citrus and orange peel. Very sweet overall with the orange overtaking most of it.

Palate: Sweet and tart up front – rye is there but overpowered by orange zest. The high level of tartness seems to amplify the ABV to make it quite hot.

Finish: Oak finally appears with rye and citrus fading after a few moments.

Rating: 87/100 – If you like sweeter ryes this will be right up your alley. Strikes me more as a dessert dram than a daily sipper.

Value for the money: I paid around $140 for this when it came out which I would not pay again. I’d like to see this closer to $60 or so.

Willett 11 Bourbon (Packages & More selection barrel 297) Review

This is an 11 year bourbon selected from Willett by Packages & More liquor store. It’s bottled at 58.2% ABV.

Nose: Cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, and bananas foster.

Palate: Vanilla, grain foward with corn oils, old oak, cinnamon, and molasses.

Finish: Dry, oaky, black pepper, fairly short.

Rating: 86/100 – Pretty standard bourbon profile for a Willett of this age.

Value for the money: I think this retailed about $90 which I would pass on at this point.

Willett 10 Year Bourbon (Barrel #828 “The Mohawk”) Review

This a 10 year bourbon that was selected by a local store and nicknamed “The Mohawk” due to the proprietor’s hair. It was bottled at 63.8% ABV.

Nose: Big vanilla with a lot of oak for only a 10 year bourbon. Fairly muted beyond those notes sadly.

Palate: Loads of butterscotch with hot, dry oak. Quite herbal with the heat intensifying over time.

Finish: Vanilla with a slight freezer burnt taste.

Rating: 80/100 – It’s a hot, oak bomb. The butterscotch is nice on the palate, but otherwise mostly too hot and one-dimensional.

Value for the money: This retailed for $80, which I wouldn’t pay again. Secondary climbed into $350+ though which is a rip off.

 

Willett 12 Bourbon (Gift Shop Barrel 837) Review

This is a 12 year bourbon that was released at the Willett gift shop about a year ago. It is bottled at 62.9% ABV.

Nose: Cigar ashes, caramel, birthday cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting.

Palate: Hot with the sweet grain pulling through with an earthy profile. Oak is pretty strong for 12 years.

Finish: Still pretty hot with astringent oak and tobacco.

Rating: 82/100 – A bit too hot for its own good and not very complex.

Value for the money: Gift shop Willett’s tend to be quite price (typically $10-$15 per year), so this one probably retailed around $125+ which is way too much. I’d peg this at about a $50 bourbon.

Willett 24/110 Rye Review

This is one of the most legendary ryes that Willett has produced. It was a 24 year rye bottled for Bonili (a Japanese liquor store) at 55% ABV.

Nose: Rye without some of the typical fresh rye bread I get from these old ryes. Oak and vanilla play a prominent role with a bit of anise.

Palate: Big rye with nice vanilla custard notes. Quite spicy on the rear palate.

Finish: Rye keeps the oak at bay and remains for a long time with some nutmeg.

Rating: 93/100 – Not as much bitterness/soapy notes I get with some 20+ year ryes.

Value for the money: This goes for $1,500+ – probably closer to $2,000. It’s good, but certainly not that good. I’d pay up to $150 if this were available at retail.

Willett 24/94 Rye Review

This is one of the most legendary ryes that Willett has produced. It was a 24 year rye bottled for Bonili (a Japanese liquor store) at 47% ABV.

Nose: Like burying your nose in freshly sliced loaf of rye bread. Dijon mustard atop sweeping waves of buttery rye – oak is perfectly melded with other notes. A little bit of caramel, but little sweetness overall.

Palate: Oak is heavy handed turning almost slightly bitter. Rye is dominant but lacks a lot of the more rich, savory notes from the nose.

Finish: Primarily an earthy oak with rye lingering for a short while.

Rating: 90/100 – Very good – as with all very old ryes, it’s hard for me to not get a bit of overoaked vibe on the palate/finish.

Value for the money: These are astronomical in price along with other very old, well regarded ryes. This is probably $1500+ at this point which is an easy pass.