Willett single barrels haven’t exactly been accessible in recent years. When a WFE barrel does become available, it’s often coupled with an inflated price tag and incredible demand. When I learned that Green’s Farms Spirits was getting the only WFE single barrel selection for the state of Connecticut in 2021, I was particularly excited. Owner Nick Conti is a true advocate for whiskey enthusiasts, especially us locals in CT. Nick tries to dissuade reselling on the secondary market from would-be poachers across the country by making special releases available for local pick up only and often times reserves bottles for CT residents only.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the entire hospitality segment and Connecticut bars and restaurants were no exception. For this 7 year old single barrel of Willett Family Estate Rye, 100 bottles were made available at two locations over the course of 5 days. Each day, an announcement went out on social media at a random time during the afternoon. At that point, 10 bottles were available for sale at each location on a “first come, first served” basis. The retail price was set at $250 but before you throw your arms up in disgust, $100 of that total went toward the purchase of a gift card to one of 10 different local restaurants that need some support to stay afloat. I’ve been to many of these restaurants in the past and would be extremely disappointed to see them close their doors. An opportunity to try a great whiskey as well as supporting the local community is a win-win in my book.
Of course, one of those wins relies on the taste of the whiskey itself. This WFE Rye comes from barrel 3624 and aged 7 years before being bottled at 114.2 proof. This whiskey was made using Willett’s “high rye” rye mashbill of 74% rye, 11% corn, 15% malted barley. The top was waxed dipped in a dark green wax fitting of the store that sold it. As for the taste, read on to learn about what makes this bottle an absolute winner in my book.
|Nose||Lots of fresh mint, vanilla, candied orange peel, anise, hint of cotton candy, rye spice, a bit of honey, aromatic pipe tobacco, toasted oak. Water brings out lavender and raspberry jam. An excellent balance of sweetness, spice, citrus, and herbal notes.|
|Taste||Lots of orange up front, Demerara sugar, mixed fresh herbs, Pixy Stix. Water brings out berries, fresh whipped cream, dried apricot, and black tea. The tartness provides a striking contrast to the herbal notes and really centers this whiskey.|
|Finish||Spice arrives first in the form of pepper and clove, prominent wood char, Lemonheads, a bit of cherry cola, and fresh mint. That cola note becomes clearer with water. Mint remains throughout the finish and a dry (almost earthy) wood spice lingers for a good long while.|
|Overall Thoughts||I am an absolute sucker for heavy orange citrus paired with sweetness. It’s why I love The Balvenie so much in the Scotch world. I often brace for impact when I try a new rye for the first time because this full-flavored style of whiskey usually presents a handful of bold, predominant flavors when you taste it. That’s not the case here. This well-balanced rye has a ton of crossover appeal both for bourbon and Scotch drinkers alike which is a testament to the incredible flavor set that came from this barrel. It's a bit early to make the call, but this is a true contender for my favorite pour of 2021.|