Willett 7 Year Single Barrel Rye – “Red Dragon” Barrel #1459

Bourbon Pursuit/Keg & Barrel 2019 Selection

I sure cannot get enough of Willett rye. This time I have another blind review from a friend who shared a sample with me. Blinds are always enjoyable. It gives me a chance to hone my chops and taste something without bias.

I’ve seen this selection be called “Red Dragon” but the sticker simply states “Selected by Keg & Barrel”. How cool is a black boston bottle?

Nosed and tasted in both a Laddie Dram glass as well as a Glencairn. Rested for ~15 min with no dilution. Auburn color with medium legs in the glass. I did my best to check the bubbles through the black glass. Large bubbles that quickly dissipated. One day the shake test will come in handy.

Familiar rye notes right from the nose. Graham cracker, oats, and rye bread. Some honeysuckle floral sweetness. Clover, straw, and mint. More like a mojito mint than chewing gum spearmint. Ginger, clover, maybe some cinnamon. Fruity apricots, apples, and a slight white grape/sultana flavor. Very herbal and medicinal like ricola cough drops.

On the palate some dried tea and chai spices. There’s a noticeable coffee undertone with a slight bitterness to it. Lots of wonderful herbs. Sage, mint, maybe leaning dill but not a lot. Cardamom, nutmeg and star anise. Subsequent sips bring much more of those fruit notes. White tart grape flavor with a melon, cantaloupe sweetness. A nice balance of fruit and spice.

Honey sweetness followed by that yeasty rye bread note on the finish. Bit of bitter sweet cocoa and tobacco notes at the back of the throat. On the dry side with a fair amount of oak coming through. Dried tobacco and tannic oak flavors. Lastly, a bold brew of black tea flavor.

My guess was a ~6 year, ~115° Knob Creek pick. Something about that fruity more youthful profile made me think Beam.

Overall this is a fantastic rye. I think I might even say this edges out both “Super Drew” and “We’ve woken the Hive” which are both that high rye mash bill. The melon flavors were delightful and combined with a more dried tea, tobacco finish, just made it really rich tasting.