Greeting Whisky Lovers!
This month is a taste off our normal beaten track. This pack features... North American Whiskey!
Yes - This time we DO spell it with an "e".
North American Whisky differs in that it's produced with corn, rye and or wheat as opposed to Scotch Whisky which is distilled using Malted Barley.
Whisk the process for producing the spirit is virtually identical, the outcome tastes vastly different.
For starter - all Bourbon whiskeys are stored in brand new barrels that are charred. This is a legal requirement in the USA for it to be classed as Bourbon. This differs from Scotch again as most Scotch whiskies are stored in ex-bourbon barrels - providing it's spiciness/peppery after taste.
Personally I found American whisky to be much sweeter and less complex than other whiskies from around the world but no less delicious. So enjoy this tasting flight and experience some rare treats we have uncovered in the USA then wash it down with a sample of a lovely liqueur from Sortilège made from Canadian whisky and maple syrup.
Sortilège is a unique blend of Canadian Whisky and maple syrup, created from the richness and authenticity of the Quebec countryside. This liqueur strikes the perfect balance between the heady strength of Canadian Whisky and the distinctive flavour of maple syrup, resulting in a remarkably fine liqueur
Brilliant pale gold. Gleams from the glass. Maple syrup, vanilla and fairy floss on the nose, repeating on the palate with caramel fudge to finish. For the sweet tooth. Recommended served chilled over ice.
A cask strength rye whiskey from the Willett distillery, bottled as part of their Family Estate series.
The series is a showcase of exceptional whiskies from the famed distillery, this rye was bottled at 109.6 proof, 54.8%.
The Willett Distillery – sometimes known these days as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers – was founded in 1936 on the family farm by Thompson Willett. The distillery became widely regarded for its quality and throughout the century introduced brands like Johnny Drum (1960s), Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Kentucky Vintage and Pure Kentucky (all 1990s).
The ‘Family Estate’ series was introduced in 2008 as a chance to showcase exemplary whiskies, often in single casks.
Nose: leather notes, sweet notes up front with spice notes following a little later, mint, woodsy cologne.
Palate: tingling rye spice on the front with nice sweet notes emerging, corn shows its face a tad, but much less so than the 2-year expression; evergreens, cinnamon, anise, dill, spearmint.
Finish: lively finish with a back and forth of sweet and spicy elements dancing in harmony.
Established in 1935 and still a private family owned and operated company, Willett Distillery (aka Kentucky Bourbon Distillers or ‘KBD’) have built a reputation as a bottler for a wide portfolio of brands including Johnny Drum, Rohan's Creek, Noah's Mill and Kentucky Vintage amongst others. In short, they're rather like an American version of a Scottish-style independent bottler. They purchase barrels of young whiskey and age them in their hill-top warehouses south of Bardstown.
Unmistakable in its bottle shaped after a copper pot still, Willett Pot Still Reserve was first released in 2008. This latest expression is a restrained, drier style, so if you're looking for layered vanilla and caramel richness in your whiskey, look elsewhere.
Notes Honey amber hue. Vapoury spirit before the aroma settles into form; dry and spicy at first developing blood orange, gum and sweet oak notes with further air contact deepening and sweetening the bouquet as vanilla, rock lolly, corn cob and peppermint come to the fore.
Palate: Medium dry, full bodied delivery. Dried corn, orange zest and cocoa. Firm oak and a touch of tea leaf before the finish gains momentum with a thread of sugars.
Finish: Concludes peppery, dark rye bread-like, mildly sappy and with solid length. Showcases the flavour range of bourbon and rye with a finely tuned sweet-dry balance.
Nose: Sweeter notes of corn and caramelized sugar lead the way on the nose, while lighter notes of cedar and pecan linger underneath.
Palate: The palate for Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon starts with 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. The medium duration finish includes lighter hints of the citrus, pepper, caramel, and oak that turn a bit dry at the end.
Located on the outskirts of Bardstown, Kentucky, lies the old Willet Distillery. Correspondence is currently pending as to the status of production, but its history dates from shortly after the repeal of prohibition in 1935. The distillery was established by brothers Thompson and Johnny Willett. The 1970s petrol crisis saw Old Willet producing alcohol as an alternate resource for fuel. The distillery closed its doors when the fuel crisis was no longer dire, unfortunately, all the whisky distilling equipment was stripped from the premises.
Enter Evan Kulsveen. Norwegian by descent, Evan married Thompson Willett's daughter, Martha, and endeavoured to bring the family distillery back to life by exporting old stock to Japan and Europe in the late 1980s when the market for Bourbon was starting to boom. The stock eventually ran out and whilst the goal of re-opening the distillery was still in sight, the cost involved made it an unviable proposition at the time. Instead, Evan started purchasing casks from multiple distilleries, masterfully creating his own whiskies, marketed under numerous labels, including ‘Old Bardstown’, ‘Kentucky Vintage’, ‘Rowans Creek’ and ‘Johnny Drum’, amongst others.
Pages on the Kentucky Bourbon Distiller’s website (a subsidiary of the distillery as a premium bottler and vendor of private brands) have indicated that the distillery is undergoing restoration (some twenty years after that promise was made!) Evan continues to operate the facility along with his children, Drew and Brit Kulsveen, continuing the line of prestigious American whiskies. We anxiously await the re-opening of this legendary Kentucky producer.
Nose: A touch of shellac at first, then the nose reveals aromas of toffee apple, mixed nuts and an enticing array of spices including clove, vanilla, anise and nutmeg over a charry oak base note.
Palate: A big palate attack yields concentrated flavours of dried fruits, caramel, sweet spices and sandalwood. The mouthfeel is creamy and mildly prickly at the same time, however the whisky maintains excellent balance at this strength.
Finish: soft and dry with an aftertaste of vanillan oak, creme caramel and a subtle liquorice strap fade. A big, complex Bourbon experience. 50.5% Alc./Vol.
The nose is sour apple, vanilla, and oak. The palate is a snowball rolling over fruits, vanilla, and spices, mixing them all together into a well balanced and complex Whiskey.
Back in the late 1700's when John Rowan first settled in Kentucky, whiskey making was the order of the day. John went on and made a name for himself as a respected judge & statesman. The creek still bears his name. As a small batch bottling the profile will vary from batch to batch.
Nose: The nose is 'pretty' for a Bourbon - almost floral, with aromas of beeswax, stewed pear, caramel fudge, light clove and white pepper. Incredibly approachable at high proof.
Palate: So softly spoken, yet with a hard, peppery edge from the oak; just enough lingering vanilla/fruit sweetness to hold your attention, but the wood threatens the balance.
Finish: Lean and savoury.