Willett Family Pot Still Reserve (47%, OB, Single Barrel #82028, 283 bottles)

Just like the Noah’s Mill I reviewed earlier, Willett is a brand name of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers from Bardstown, Kentucky, or KBD for short. At first not really a distiller, but an independent bottler sourcing barrels of Bourbon from other parties and in some cases for other parties. In written media about the subject the name of Heaven Hill keeps popping up, especially since Heaven Hill is a few blocks down the road from KBD. However, on the 21th of January 2012 KBD started tests distilling at their Willett Distillery in Bardstown, so in the end KBD finally became a distiller again. I say again, since the Willett distillery was already founded in 1935 by A.L. Willett and the decommissioned distillery was already bought in 1984 by Even Kulsveen (the founder of KBD).

The Pot Still Reserve I’m about to review come from single barrels, said to be 8 to 10 years old and reduced to 47% ABV, so all are slightly different. Well, they might be from different distilleries altogether as far as I know. Remember that the Whiskey is older than the three years that have passed since starting up the distillery, so these Willetts are still made elsewhere.

Willett Pot Still ReserveColor: Orange gold.

Nose: Waxy, latex paint with lots of new wood influence. Honey. Very vegetal with hints of many plants, even lavas and dry grass. Heavy note of bad morning breath, but also dusty and smooth. Hints of old dried orange skins. The whole isn’t very “big”, although full of aroma.

Taste: Sweet entry, woody, and dry right after that and spicy. Big note of watered down honey (as to say that it is not too sweet). Again quite sappy new wood and very warming. Sawdust from wet wood. Chocolate. Great balance. The ABV works very well for this Whiskey. Slightly bitter and soapy finish, but I guess we have to live with that, since I feel the Bourbon has been designed for its entry and body. A Bourbon with a bite.

For some it may be a bit to raw, harsh and outspoken, like unsanded wood. If that’s the case I can steer you towards more polished Bourbon’s like Woodford Reserve and Bulleit. I really like this Bourbon. Sure, the finish let’s it down a bit, but the rest of the experience is a very nice one. For the time being I can live with it. It is what it is.

Since this is a single barrel product, it is very much possible, other bottles are (slightly) different and have another finish. We’ll see over time when I get to taste other Willett pot Still Reserves, because I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Points: 84

Noah’s Mill (57.15%, Batch QBC No. 14-28, 750 ml)

Happy New year! Yet again! I’m writing this, since this review of Noah’s Mill is essentially the first review I’m writing this new year 2015. Looking back I didn’t even write a review about a Bourbon in a long while. Bourbon’s have stayed off of these pages for 2,5 years now. So this Noah’s mill is long overdue.

On the label the producer of this Whiskey is Noah’s Mill Distilling Company, but af far as In know, this is not an active distillery, nor a closed one. Noah’s Mill is a brand owned by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) from Bardstown KY, which was founded in 1935. It is owned by the Kulsveen family.

Since this is a recent bottle, no mention whatsoever about the age of this Whiskey, although the label mentions that it’s not young. If memory serves me well I believe that the first batches of Noah’s Mill did have an age statement, or we were told that the Whiskey was 15yo, but that may or not be the case with this newer bottle. It is believed that most of the Whiskies of KBD are made by the Heaven Hill Distillery (half a mile further down the road).

Noah's MillColor: Orange copper gold

Nose: Dry and woody. Vanilla. Dusty vanilla pudding. Custard. Paint. Fresh forest floor plants. Leather (old well-kept saddle). Nutty, dry roasted almonds. Old log cabin offers a different take on oak. Sawdust mixed with a touch of machine oil and hints of cold bacon and toffee. A hint of honey and perfumy too.

Taste: Leather and solvents again, not necessarily a bad thing though. Hot, woody and quite dry, surely not as sweet as I expected, even if this ís 15yo. Vanilla and clean oak. Freshly stripped off paint dust and wood spice. Bitter oak finish, but just to make a statement, and if you are an experienced taster/drinker, you’ll manage with the oaky bitterness and fresh tree sap note it leaves. Cold black tea and cask toast. Fern and half-dried cut grass. Apart from the bitterness in the finish, the body starts with a funky acidity that dissipates into the hot, peppery vanilla and oaky body and finish.

Some might argue that this is too dry, not sweet enough so plainly too old, but I have to say, probably from my Malt Whisky background, that this is pretty nice. May be a bit unusual for a Bourbon, but I like it. maybe not for everyone.

I have a much older bottle of this that I hope to review soon, but untill that time, I believe this Whiskey will show some batch variation.

Points: 83