Willett’s Purple Top Shiny Goth Phase
Willett has released wheated bourbons before through their Willett Family Estate line. This bottle however appears to be the first release with a proprietary mash bill that’s entirely distilled by Willett. Not many other details were given aside from the barrel being char level #4 and bottled at a clearly targeted 108 proof.
How will this $30/year wheater fare?
Tasted neat with an initial 20 minutes of rest. Additional tasting with dilution and upwards of an hour of rest for comparison.
The nose is very delicate. Light notes of clove and toasted cinnamon. Red stone fruits – plum, cherry, and dates. A distinct metallic note of copper and tin. Grain forward and herbaceous. There’s a store-bought bread aroma to it like honey wheat. Cereal grains of rice and corn flakes. There’s a youthful astringency to it that air remedies after about a half hour or more. Water develops those fruit notes as well as some additional sweetness with a pop of caramel apple and corn syrup. To me, this doesn’t have that distinct yeast note I’m familiar with in other Willett products. Maybe it’s just a bit more muted here on the nose.
Harsh alcohols and barrel char are what you’re greeted with on the sip. Burnt honey, string sugar, and brulee. As your palate acclimates, this cinnamon candy note starts to come forward. The spirit is oily and viscose. Before adding any dilution I couldn’t stop writing down “burnt” to describe the flavors. Water is really needed and allows again for a more fruity element to present itself. It softened the barrel character and allows more of that apple flavor I was getting from the nose. Reminded me of apple turnovers with a slightly singed pie crust taste.
The finish is straight tobacco and charcoal. Campfire and pipe tobacco. Overtoasted chai spices with all the oak you could ask for in a dram. Water here is a must. Even more stone fruit and clover honey after dilution. That sweetness of the wheat really flourishes on the finish. Herbal notes but don’t expect their rye character, more of a fragrant prairie or lemon grass and aromatic wood like cedar. There are some oak and tobacco notes that linger on your palate but not nearly as long as I’d like.
Straight out of the gate, if you enjoy Old Weller Antique at 5 times the price, you’ll love this bottle. This is another ludicrously priced Willett bottle that absolutely does not warrant its price tag.
The flavors to me were not any better than offerings from Buffalo Trace or Heaven Hill. In fact, at one point in my tasting, I felt like Larceny Barrel Proof did a better job at hiding its youth in recent releases. This Willett reminds me of A120 or B520. Youthful, grain forward, and unbalanced. However, the mouthfeel on the Willett is decadent and worth noting. Absolutely viscous and thick legs in your glass that carries over onto the palate.
While OWA might not be my preferred choice in whiskey, I would absolutely choose it over this Willett Wheat bottle due to the price. OWA and Larceny fans might find more enjoyment from this bottle but I recommend trying before you buy. Sit with it for a long while as it gets much more enjoyable with air.