Willett’s self distilled, as opposed to source products, are continuing to come onto the market. This past summer I got to try a couple of different Willett Purple label single barrels that were distilled in 2012 when Willett began distilling. Now, they have released a wheated bourbon that was barrelled at 125 proof when distilled in 2013 and bottled in the summer of 2022 at eight years old. This was aged in number 4 char barrels. They proofed it down to 108 proof, but did not chill filter it. It comes in a distinctive black bottle (which is kind of odd) but with purple foil like the Family Estate bottlings.
This bottle cost me $270, but it is being sold online by “legitimate” retailers for $800.
Color is a nice amber, about what you would expect in an eight year old bourbon. Nice thick film and legs on the swirl. On the nose, I get drizzled cinnamon rolls, dark fruit jam, and some nice oak. On the palate, the mouthfeel is excellent and thick, with the bready notes becoming overpowered by clove and candied dark fruits with an undercurrent of vanilla. Really yummy and complex. On the finish the cloves turn to a milder cinnamon that mingles with oak and lingers for a very long time.
Now that Willett’s earliest distillate is coming of age, I imagine we will be seeing more releases like this in the future. As a value proposition, I would say Weller Full Proof is better, but considering how hard both of these whiskies are to obtain, if you can grab a bottle of this excellent wheated bourbon at regular retail it is worth it.