Around this time last year, I wrote about the folks at Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, their history in the industry as Willett, and their current offerings as a Non-Distiller Producer (NDP). Last week, I finally killed my bottle of Willett Pot Still Reserve and went to my friendly neighborhood whiskey monger seeking a replacement.
A lot can change in a year. KBD has changed their name back to Willett officially. They’ve also started Distilling again. And Baby A has two teeth and can unlock my iPad.
When I got there, I saw that there was not one, but three different bourbon bottles bearing the Willett (as well as a rye whiskey). The pot still bottle was there, along with six and seven year-old bottles of single barrel Willett Family Reserve in the standard KBD wine bottle sealed with black wax. Both the six year and seven year were barrel proof and very close to the pot still reserve price-wise.
I had a quick talk with Simon, one of the store’s “liquor consultants” and he explained that both bottles were barrels picked by the store and while they didn’t match the exact flavor profile of the pot still reserve, they were excellent bourbons. I picked up a bottle of the 120 proof seven year and a bottle of Maker’s for another round of vanilla infusion (eggnog season is nigh).
Saturday night, Black Belt Kurt came over and we broke open the Willett Family Reserve. Simon did not lie. This is an exceptional bottle of bourbon. It is dark, rich, and surprisingly smooth considering its relatively high proof.
According to the label on the back, I got bottle 141/194. Doing a little math, that means there were less than 40 gallons of bourbon left in the 55 gallon barrel after seven years of aging. But sipping this bourbon makes me want to know more about that barrel. Who distilled it? What was the recipe? Where was it aged?