Few bottles draw attention like Willett Family Estate. I suppose it’s because you rarely see them on retail shelves (at least in my area). When you do, they’re marked up significantly. You’d think a 4-year rye would be immune from this behavior. Unfortunately, not enough.
Pour: Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye
Age: 4 years
Nose: dried pear, graham cracker, pineapple candy
Taste: zesty apricot, sugar wafers, white pepper, tea
Finish: long – sharp vanilla, tangy ginger, hot peppermint
Overall: I’ll give this whiskey credit for being flavorful and unique. Outside of that, Willett Small Batch Rye (4 years) is burdened with youthful, underdeveloped character. Why they continue to bottle this expression at 4 years is beyond me.
Rating: Two more years! Two more years!
Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s Discovery Series is an ultra-premium line featuring sourced whiskeys of various ages and mash bills. The second release is composed of 10-, 12-, and 14-year bourbons (undisclosed origins), each distilled in Kentucky with rye as the secondary grain.
Pour: Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery Series No. 2
Age: 10 years
Color: rich copper
Nose: salted caramel, honey-roasted nuts, dark citrus
Taste: brown sugar, charred oak, baked cinnamon
Finish: moderately long – vanilla spice, cola, clove gum
Overall: A robust, well-rounded, satisfying pour. While not unlike other bourbons in its class, Bardstown’s Discovery No. 2 brings its share to the table. The sole negative is its $130 price. Quite an expense considering similarly aged options.
Rating: Hefty pour, hefty price.
Bardstown Bourbon Co. have made a name for themselves in the last few years. Having tried several of their sourced and finished expressions, as well as their distillate and two-year maturate, I can attest to their quality. But what about a blend of both worlds? Enter Fusion.
Pour: Bardstown Bourbon Co. Fusion Series No. 2
Age: 34 months (2-12-year KSBW)
Color: rich amber
Nose: Vanilla Tootsie Roll, roasted almonds, orange peel
Taste: light caramel, melted butter, mild spice
Finish: moderately short – toasted oak, nutty toffee, citrus
Overall: I’m torn with this bourbon. There’s a part of me that genuinely appreciates the experimentation aspect – a blend of young and old, distilled and sourced. But then, there’s nothing unique or noteworthy happening to justify Fusion’s $60 price.
Rating: Getting there.