Whisky Advocate

Friday’s Pick: Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve Bourbon

January 18th, 2008

Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve Bourbon, Barrel # A-4614, 47%, $35
Bottled in a really cool glass pot still decanter. Soft and elegant on the nose and palate, and very well balanced. An incredibly drinkable whiskey. There’s no age statement on the bottle, but it was bottled at just the right time, based on its great balance of flavors. Notes of vanilla, coconut, and crème brulee, provide a base for emerging notes of cedar wood shavings, cinnamon, soft mint and a hint of fennel. A very graceful bourbon.

Advanced Malt Advocate Magazine rating: 90

21 Responses to “Friday’s Pick: Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve Bourbon”

  1. mike says:

    at this years bourbon festival toddy’s was sellling a willett family estate bottled single barrel , but is was fourn years old and 125.4 proof. a tad young for such power. It was produced by heaven hill,and i think he picked out one barrel to have bottled and sold for the festival

  2. John Hansell says:

    Was it also in a glass pot still decanter?

  3. John says:

    Where can one get this bourbon? None of the retailers in NJ seem to have it and I’m sure it is limited in supply.

  4. This is a new product for us that we are very excited about. It is separate from the brand that Mike mentioned above. The item that Mike is referring to is called Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon/Rye. It is what we consider our barrel selection program. The Bourbon that John review is a completely different item. It is called Willett Family Pot Still Reserve. It is a single barrel 8 to 10 years old at 94 proot in a pot still decanter replicated from the pot still from the pot still that we have in place. We just shipped the first of it last week to our customer in California and should be available in the Californian market by the end of this month. It will be released in Kentucky next and be available by the beginning of February. It will be released in New York and New Jersey in March. Illinois in March, Indiana in March, and other markets to follow. If any one has questions regarding this item please contact me at Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.

  5. John Hansell says:

    Thanks, Drew, for the explanation. Anyone wanting more info from Drew can click on his name above and it will take you to the KBD website.

    The whiskey really is delicious and I love the decanter.

  6. scott says:

    Hello John:

    Have you had the opportunity to try the Willett offerings that Joe Riley currently is carrying at Ace Beverage down in D.C?

    He has the following:

    Willett 15 Year-Old Bourbon barrel 129-proof – $71.99

    Willett 23 Year-Old Rye barrel 137-proof “The Iron Fist” – $179.99

    Willett 23 Year-Old Rye barrel 137.1-proof “The Velvet Glove” – $179.99

    Joe has a wonderful review for each bottle. It would appear that each is absolutely magnificent. I suppose that should not come as a surprise to anyone who was fortunate enough to purchase the 22 Year-Old Rye offering Ledgers had last year.

    I guess my question then is, why does it appear that no one, short of living in the general D.C. vicinity knows anything about these gems? I just happened to luck out by stumbling across Joe’s website, but other than that, everyone including all the major bourbon websites seem oblivious to them.

    Could you, or perhaps Mr. Kulsveen shed any light on these bottles. Any additional input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you gentlemen.


  7. John Hansell says:

    Scott, I have not personally tasted the Ace Beverage bottlings. However, I can make a general comment about the older (22 & 23 year old) Willett rye whiskeys that I have tasted. They are very clean and surprisingly lack the big wood influence found in other rye whiskeys on the market of that age.

  8. These are part of our barrel program and were bottle for a customer in DC. We don’t market these as part of our normal portfolio because they are so limited and the selections are always different. They are available in a select few markets such as DC. These whiskies were selected by whiskey drinkers and are sold by whiskey drinkers which is the approach we decided to take. If you would like to try them before you buy them (if you still can) take a trip to Bourbon DC or any other Bourbon hotspot. We just released some to one of our customers in CA, they chose a barrel of 25YR and it was bottled at 90.2 Proof (very tasty if you like the older stuff). Anyone wanting information regarding our barrel program can contact me at

  9. John Hansell says:

    Thanks Drew for the update and clarification. –John

  10. Scott says:

    John and Drew:

    My thanks to both of you for your informative replies.


  11. Tim says:

    The 4yo, barrel-proof bourbon referenced above — sold at Toddy’s in Bardsown during the last Festival — was selected and shared by Doug Philips, whose 23yo Willett Family Reserve rye John DID review here:
    As with the old rye, there was only a single barrel produced (a TRUE single-barrel, then).

  12. Matt says:

    The 23yr old Willet ryes available only in the DC market are fantastic. They are NOT, however, exclusive to Ace Beverage. They are available at Bourbon (a fantastic whisky bar) and at The Wine Specialist as well. In fact, I saw them at the Wine Specialist for $135 per bottle rather than $179.

  13. Scott E says:

    Just found a bottle in Redding CA. Anxious to try. I am origianally from KY now living in So Oregon. Any Bourbon hotspots around me. I can only find ones you see every where.

  14. John Hansell says:

    Glad you found a bottle. Sorry, can’t help you sourcing more. Don’t know So Oregon ver well.

  15. cliff says:

    just got back from Ky. Purchased a bottle of Pot Still Reserve cant waitto try.When and where is the “Bourbon Festival?

  16. Eli Plymesser says:

    While I’m no expert, I have lived in KY most of my life and though I’ve spent most of my bourbon drinking years favoring Woodford Reserve, I think the Pot Still reserve might be one of my new favorites. If you happen to see the distinct bottle on the shelf (I dont know how widely it is sold outside of KY) i would certainly pick it up.
    Cheers y’all

  17. Gabe says:

    I was able to find the Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon in the glass pot still decanter at Costco today. $38 seemed reasonable after I read positive reviews on my some sites via my mobile. I have been enjoying it neat this evening. Considering it is 94 proof, it is rather smooth.

  18. Michael says:

    I’m sitting in my kitchen, smoking a Tatuaje Black Tubo and drinking the last of one of my bottles of Willett “The Iron Fist” that I purchased from Joe at Ace a few years back, and I just have to say,

    Thank you, Drew. I’m an enormous fan of Rye, and I’ve never found one to match your aged offerings.

    And thanks for your reviews, John. There’s only so much time to drink Whisky, and you make the discovery process so much smoother. I also appreciate how accessible you are through your blog. It makes it easier – taking advice from somebody so clearly impassioned with his work and so adamantly dedicated to it.

    This cigar is fabulous, by the way 🙂

  19. Anthony says:

    Just got a 1.75 litre of the Willets Pot Still Reserve as a wedding gift. After reading up on it I can’t wait to try it out. Awesome bottle as well….already planning some uses for the bottle once I savor the last drop. I’ll be sure to get back on here and give my own personal take on it once the seal has been broken. Thanks guys…

  20. Jason W says:

    An excellent bourbon. I place it higher than my previous all-time favorite, Blanton’s.

  21. John S says:

    I just picked up a bottle of Willett Pot Still Reserve a few days ago to give to my parents as present to aounce to them that they will soon be grandparents a few days ago. Its bottle number 31 of 247 out of barrel number 158. Its the one tat comes in the really cool looking bottle. Im having a really hard time aging it though. Ive found information on barrels numbering anywhere from 1461 to 6,XXX, but none this low in the barrel numbering system. Any input on aging thi bottle would be greatly appreciated.

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