The Willett Pot Still Reserve review
Vol: 47% ABV
Age: NAS (anywhere between 8-10 years)
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 72% corn, 13% rye, 15% malted barley
Price: c £60 - £65
Introduced in 2008 the Willett Pot Still Reserve is a bourbon from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, or if you’d prefer, the Willett Distillery (as labelled on the bottle). Bourbon Gent groupies will know that Mav’s absolute favourite - Noah’s Mill is also from Willett Distillery, so he was expecting great things. For the moment the juice is a blend of bourbons from other Kentucky distilleries (rumours are amok that Heaven Hill, their very near neighbours, contributes significantly to the end product). We say for the moment because from 2012 the KBD began the process of becoming a distiller themselves so it won’t be too long before it becomes all their own work. There has been one very limited release (only in Kentucky that’s how limited) of a bottled in bond Old Bardstown Estate.
Currently labelled and released as a small batch bourbon it did start out as a single barrel expression. One aspect of the drink that cannot be ignored is the magnificent pot still bottle shape. There is beautiful gold lettering on the bottle, with an equally featching gold stamp naming the bourbon. The ribbon down the neck of the bottle contains further information (although unfortunately Mav had long since discarded this). To top it off (literally) there is a heavy wood cork stopper, again the name engraved on the top. It is no surprise that the packaging design is award winning.
So can the liquid inside live up to Mav’s expectations and is the wow factor only from the bottle? Read on to find out.
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass
What we got – Very sweet with honey (Mav) and banana (Mr Pie). Cherry Bakewell tart (if you don’t know what that is, Mav says google it). Quite a strong nose but very pleasant
What they say we should get - Sweeter notes of corn and caramelised sugar lead the way on the nose, while lighter notes of cedar and pecan linger underneath
What we got – Initially a very warm sensation with burnt citrus orange, lots of black pepper, full of spice, nutty (cashews), lots of wood and not overly sweet which contrasts to the nose
What they say we should get – Notes of citrus, caramel, and pepper. In the mid-palate, the citrus notes subside, and the caramel and pepper notes blend with a hint of dry oak
What we got – Very smooth and surprisingly short. Nothing remains in the back of the throat, but maybe a bit of spice left on the tongue
What they say we should get – Medium duration finish includes lighter hints of the citrus, pepper, caramel, and oak that turn a bit dry at the end
If you had any perception that this was just a fancy bottle with the liquid inside being nothing to shout about then stop those thoughts immediately. There is nothing disappointing about the Willett Pot Still Reserve. Its colour is a dark hue which indicates the length of time spent in the new American oak. It is the epitome of a 'smooth' bourbon with lashings of honey, caramel, citrus orange, and black pepper. Mr Pie wanted a little bit more in return with regards to a longer finish but for some (including Mav) that is not an essential requirement.
This is not an everyday bourbon. Nor is it an everyday price. Every now and then, remember why you work so hard and take time out to treat yourself. See it on a shelf, buy it. See it in stock on line, buy it. Unlike most things in life it won’t disappoint.
8 out of 10 - Mav
7 out of 10 - Mr. Pie