I can't believe it's December 1st and I'm writing about the spring Willett pick. In defense, the bottles only arrived about a month ago.
Our little group has been picking from KBD since March of 2009 and we've pulled some truly phenomenal whiskies from KBD's rickhouse's. Drew Kulsveen has always been a gracious host and gone out of his way to make sure we have access to great bourbon. This last pick in April was no exception. In all, we ended up with six barrels this go around. It's no secret that KBD sources their whiskey although they are distilling, that whiskey won't be ready for another couple of years at least.
All the bourbons are cask strength and range in age from 8 to 11 years old.
Willett Barrel #1422 - From the taste of it, this bourbon is a wheat mashbill. This is the second barrel of this series we've picked with last years at 8 years old making this one 9. Bottled at 129.4 proof, this is another candy shop winner. When I describe a bourbon having candy shop qualities that includes dark sugars, fudge, caramel, nuts, etc. This one has all that with a nice oak backbone. Heat pops up mid palate but then subsides allowing an oaky chocolaty finish to slowly fade. I really like these cask strength wheaters.
Willett Barrel #824 - This selection is one of a long line of a series of barrels we've picked from since 2009 when our first Willett was 6 years old. This one and its sister #813, come in at 10 years old. The proof on this is 127.2 but as typical with our picks, the heat is totally in check to almost non-existent. This one is spicier than previous iterations with cinnamon, clove up front on entry that transitions to stewed dark fruits and gooey pudding. Sweetness is limited but flavor abounds on this one. I noticed this one, even though from the same series as previous picks, really changed from 9 to 10 years as I don't pick up similarities as I did before.
Willett Barrel #810 - This selection is the same mashbill and barrel date as #824 and comes in at 126.9 proof. This profile is more in line with the previous picks but exhibits a bit more creaminess on the mouthfeel. Sweet entry that turns to oak barrel notes and finishes slightly drying. The finish is quite nice and long on this one.
Willett Barrel #6472 - When sitting in the tasting room at KBD last April, we were asked if we were interested in tasting a 9 year containing a mashbill we had not selected previously. My answer would be "does the Pope wear a funny hat?" This one at first blush, was not as well received as the 11 year olds we were also tasting (more on that). I liked it out of the gate and now that I have bottles in the bunker, I like it even more. First impression on tasting was juicy fruit gum. Big sweet mouth watering flavor of fruit and vanilla. Flavor profile develops around mid palate to include honey and tobacco which then transitions to yet another long, warming finish. This bourbon was bottled at 121.4 proof and is 8 years old
Willett Barrels #1586 and #1595 - I'm combining these two since they are the same mashbill and barreled on the same date. They are similar in profile and for me, the jury is out on which one I like better. Both are great selections that exhibits nice barrel notes, spice and eucalyptus. These have dark chocolate on the palate; first impression was
chocolate mint. Sweet and spice on the entry migrating to a creamy
sweetness mid palate. Finish is moderate to long. #1586 is an excellent bourbon
fresh out of the bottle. As the bourbon sat in the glass over the
course of an hour, the sweetness became more pronounced. Barrel #1595 while similar, has more caramel and chocolate on the profile and softer eucalyptus on the palate. Crazy to think but both of these barrels came in at 123.4 proof and are 11 years old.
All in all, this years picks are really fantastic. Each year we say we can't imagine picking better barrels the following year yet we manage to meet or beat previous selections.
For 2014, we'll of course visit the normal distilleries as we've done in the past but we're working on branching outside the envelope and see if we can add some unique small craft offerings to our collective bunkers.