Price – 750 ml – $47.99 – (Heights Beer and Wine Emporium)
Method – 50 ml in a Glencairn – two fingers in a rocks glass
Rating – 85-100 – standard rating scale for wine and spirits
So I think like a lot of people, its the bottle that really makes this whiskey jump off the shelf. Once I got it home the biggest quandary became where to put it on my shelf. The wide base of this bad bourbon is quite a foot print of prime real estate, so I had to jostle around the collection a bit to get it to make sense. I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this particular bourbon, so I thought I’d give it a go during “WWTWW2k12” (Whiskey World Tour Whiskey Week 2012).
The packaging of this bottle is very reminiscent of cognac or brandy, which makes a bit of sense after learning that the Willett family got their start with Brandy. The most fun I’ve had pouring a glass of whiskey came when all the noise that came pumping out of this bottle filled my small apartment. *glug glug glug*. I can’t be certain if I like the bottle or not, but it had me interested enough to try it, so I guess its a success.
The nose for this whiskey is very full of alcohol it has a bit of sweetness but its hidden way behind the heat of the alcohol in my nose. The hits I do get are very bitter, and remind of me almonds and very bitter dark chocolate. After 5 minutes of breathing this whiskey really takes shape in the nose. Strong hits of vanilla and sawdust fill the nose, and it definitely softens up from the bitter bastard it starts out as. Let this bourbon breathe.
The breathing really helped on the palate as well. Very oily mouth feel, with a lot of heat at the tip and middle of the tongue. The wierd feeling i get from drinking this bourbon is the word “middle”. Maybe its the musician in me, but I think of things like an eq band sometimes. Irish whiskeys take up much of the Treble end of the band, while the heavier bourbons (i.e. Blanton’s and Knob Creek) as well as most scotches I’ve tried occupy the bottom end, and the rest come somewhere in between. However, this whiskey gives me a definite feeling of “middle” for some reason. There are the sweet notes of vanilla that I got in the nose and the wood definitely comes out heavy at first. I’m thinking that its the pot still process that gives it the sharp undernotes I got in the nose, but they definitely lurk in the background of this dram.
Overall, I wasn’t particularly blown away by this bourbon. Then again it was my first taste, and I have found that often times whiskeys will grow on me the longer they sit on my shelf and in my glass. I can honestly say that this is the first whiskey I did not prefer on the rocks. The ice took all the low notes out of the palate and left me with a bitter dram that I’d rather not finish. The whiskey I put into my Glencairn for the nose and the “neat” tasting was gone pretty quickly, while the rocks glass I put three fingers into will probably not get finished. So that’s interesting. At the end of the day I give this bourbon an 85, mainly because I was a little let down by the tremendous heat that it carries. Even after it breathes a bit, I get bowled over by the heavy heat of this bourbon, and at only 94%, I’m a little surprised. I have a bottle of Noah’s Mill, which is from the same company and weighs in at 114% and it is muuuch smoother.
On a side note, apparently the Willet family, before moving to America, made brandy in France. I can absolutely taste the similarities to brandy, especially in the heat and bitterness that I get out of it. It makes a lot more sense now that I know this little tidbit of information. Thank you distillery notes :)