Santa Fe Boutique W&S 2022 Selection
This single barrel was a New Mexico area exclusive release just in time for Bourbon Heritage Month. Santa Fe Wines and Spirits is a very small, family-owned distributor with only a handful of whiskey brands represented.
Thankfully a couple of nerdy details were released. This barrel came from Lot 13-D-36. Warehouse A, floor 5, from rick N9, with an entry proof of 125. Very cool to get this small glimpse into a selection and something that was missing from the Jack Rose tasting.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with an initial 20 minutes of rest. Additional tasting with dilution and upwards of an hour of rest for comparison.
The nose is straightforward with oak and cinnamon. The heavily baking spice forwardness is partnered with a light stewed cherry fruity note. Clove, allspice, cassia cinnamon. Churros with a cinnamon sugar blend. Caster sugar and royal icing. There’s a distinct Willett yeasty note as well like honey-glazed fresh dinner rolls. And for a complete polar opposite of these pastry-like notes is an aroma I can only describe as ‘industrial’. Notes that I would typically get in rum or mezcal. Aromas like copper and rust. Wet, musty cellar. Concrete, shale, and calcium tablets. Odd mix of things but turned out quite interesting as I let my glass sit undisturbed.
The proof quickly builds that oaky flavor and capsaicin heat quickly on the palate. Maple and corn syrup sweetness. Hearty pecan earthy notes. Quite one-dimensional comparatively to the nose. A touch of water really hammers home that pecan pie flavor note. More tobacco notes and molasses bloom with leather and demerara sugar flavors coming forward. The heat takes a bit to acclimate to but once you do this relatively sweet dram opens up further with subsequent sips and an extended resting period. The lack of viscosity is the only minor detractor.
Where the palate falters, the finish picks up with full steam. Barrel char and woodshop notes. Wet tobacco leaves, old oak church pews, conditioning or finishing oils. It’s such a rich oaky flavor that doesn’t dip too far into tannins and it’s a lovely combo that clings to your palate after you sip. Baking spices return with more cinnamon, allspice berries, and toasted peppercorns. Olive oil peppery flavors. The seemingly industrial notes are present on the finish with some tin and a copper penny note that lingers on the tongue.
As time passed in this tasting, I felt like the spirit developed more than most other bourbons I’ve tasted. Adding water drop by drop to notice subtle changes enhanced my experience. It might be a straightforward dram, but it was a good one.
I honestly think this is a great bourbon but it’s severely hindered by the astronomical prices Willett carries even at retail. As much as I’d like to give this seemingly glowing review a buy recommendation, I can’t, simply because the price is such a detractor. This Willett might be great, but it’ll never be $350 great to me. A fun experience and I’m extremely grateful for the sample from a friend.
Give these a try at a bar but don’t feel the need to plunk down for a whole bottle. There are plenty of other bottles of amazing whisky without the excessive price. This bottle doesn’t seem worth the expense even for a splurge.