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Willett Four Year Old Rye Review

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Willett Four Year Old Rye Review
Willett Distillery
Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye
Straight Rye Whiskey
Rare Release
106.6 proof

Like many distilleries, Willett has a lengthy history. The Willett Distillery was founded in 1936 by Thompson Willett, although the family had a long history in distilling prior to then. Today the distillery is in the Kulsveen family. Even Kulsveen married Martha Harriet Willett in 1972, so it is still also in the Willett family. They began distilling again in 2012. While the older Willett ryes and bourbons out there were sourced, these current day younger ryes, such as this Willett Four Year Old Rye, are distilled by Willett.

Willett does not publish any specific information about its whiskeys on their website. According to the Internet consensus, they use 2 rye mash bills:
High Rye Rye: 11% corn/74% rye/15% barley
Low Rye Rye: 34% corn/51% rye/15% barley

The consensus also seems to be that these small batch ryes use a combination of the two mash bills. It would be great to get some clarification from the folks at Willett Distillery on this. It is of note that the 3 and 4 year old Willett Family Estate Ryes available today are small batch. The older WFE ryes are all single barrels, as far as I know.

Tasting Notes

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Floral, fresh apple, cedar, rye spices, citrus; leather and caramel in the background; moderate alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Rye spices, caramel, light citrus and some light simple syrup sweetness up front. Dryness and barrel char rapidly develop
👉🏻Finish: Rye spices, char, oak and dryness continue to build and persist into the long finish with a moderate burn


There’s a fairly abrupt change to this rye from the initial floral, fruity, spicy cedar notes in the nose to the dryness and char in the finish. This rye also seems hotter than its stated proof. Since these are small batch ryes, they likely vary somewhat from batch to batch. I feel this one is a bit different from my last bottle. I don’t remember as much dryness and char, and the prior had more citrus and spices in the taste. Overall, this is still a tasty rye, and one that I will continue to buy. Have you had the 4 year old Willett rye? What did you think of it? Cheers!🥃

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Would you like to learn more about another rye? Check out our review of the Wilderness Trail Settlers Select Rye.