Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tasting: Willett Family Estate Rye - Single Barrel - 8 Years

A.L. Thompson Willett founded Willett Distillery back in 1936.
Thompson erected the distillery on his families’ old farm and produced their first batch of whiskey - about 30 barrels - on March 17, 1937.

From 1936 up to the 70s, The Willett distillery was operated as a family-owned distillery,
but as bourbon began to lose it popularity to other spirits, and the energy crisis set in, the company switched from producing whiskey to producing ethanol for gasohol fuel. This strategy soon failed, when fuel prices returned to lower levels, and the distilling facilities were completely shut down in the early 1980s.

Martha Harriet Willet’s Norwegian husband; Evan Kulsveen purchased the Willett property and distillery in 1984 and renamed it to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD). For some time, KBD continued to sell the whiskey that the Willett distillery had produced before it shut down, but as time moved on, KBD increasingly began to purchase its whiskey from other distilleries and slowly started to operate as an NDP Distillery, offering a wide range of different releases and brands. Brands, such as Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, Pure Kentucky XO and Kentucky Vintage, are all said to have been distilled at the nearby distillery; Heaven Hill, and transferred for maturation in Willett’s warehouses. None of these brands carries Willett name, but is being released under their brand names.

Around 2008 Willett introduced “their” Willett Family Estate Bourbons and ryes. (Also sourced from other distilleries/distillery). Especially their ryes, that varies in ages, from 2 – 25 years, have received an almost cult status among rye fans, and “older” bottles are nowadays worth a small fortune.    

Willett started renovating the distillery somewhere around 2009 and installs a pot still as-well as a continuous still, and finally, on January 21, 2012, the first barrel was filled in the “new” Willett Distillery. Since then, Willett has been releasing their “own distillate of the Willett Family Estate Rye, and in 2016 their Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond version saw the light of day.

Willett Family Estate Rye – Single Barrel – 8yrs.
Straight Rye Whiskey
Barrel 90

Distillery: Willett/NDP
Age: 8 Years
Proof/ABV: 58.4%
Mash Bill: Unknown
DK Price: $140USD/850dkk

Points: 91/100

As mentioned, it wasn’t until 2012, that Willett once again started distilling their “own” whiskey, which means that this 8 years old single barrel rye is sourced, probably from MGP of Indiana. MGP’s rye mash bill is said to contain 95% Rye and 5% Barley.

Caramel and brown sugar for days, followed by mint, fresh oak, leather and just a dip of honey and rye spices in the backseat.  

This rye is a firehouse of flavors, but yet silky smooth with a really nice oily structure. I get an overall taste of espresso right away, with plenty of vanilla to go around, followed by anise, maple syrup and licorice root.

Medium to long finish with orange peel, raisins and the vanilla, caramel and honey notes from the nose finally coming through.

Photo & Review By: Hasse Berg

NB: The photo used in this review, is an archive photo of a Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye, and not of the reviewed Willett Family Estate Rye – Single Barrel – 8yrs bottle

The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #97

Willett 24/94; My first of the "epic ryes".
Absolutly delicious. I want to live in the glass


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Bastard Whiskey

A brief introduction to Rye Whiskey

Rye Whiskey is booming, there’s absolutely no denying it. Just take a look at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States webpage, and the numbers will speak for themselves. Between 2009 and 2017, the volumes have increased 934 percent, growing from 88,000 cases in 2009 to 912,2 thousand cases in 2017 and there are now more than hundred rye brands to chose among, but what exactly is Rye Whiskey?

The common perception seems to be that Rye Whiskey is made with 100 percent of the grain, but that’s as far from the truth as it can be. The majority of Rye Whiskeys on the market today are being produced in America and Canada, where the rye mash bill regulations are quite different, to say the least. The only rule to label your whisky as Rye in Canada is for it to have “some” rye in it, apart from that, it seems that the Canadian government really don’t give a damn what the distillers do to it. Where in America, a Rye whiskey must be made from a mash, made from no less than 51% rye and must be aged in charred new oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% abv), and stored at no more than 125 proof (62,5%). A Rye Whiskey being labeled Straight Rye Whiskey has to age for at least two years in charred new oak containers, to be labeled as such. Furthermore, if it isn't a Straight Rye whiskey, the distillery is allowed to add additions of coloring, flavoring or blending materials of up 2.5 percent by volume of the finished product.

According to Fred Minnick, most of the Rye used for distilling whiskey, typically comes from Canada, Dakotas, or Europe, due to the fact that the best rye for distillation – flavor wise - is grown in colder climates. 
Before prohibition (1920 – 1933) dried America up, the American farmers preferred grain to distill was rye. In 1780 Pittsburgh was Rye Whiskey Mecca, widely known for their Mongelahela styled rye. Rumor has it, that none the less than five thousand stills where running in Pittsburgh by that time, even George Washington himself was producing Rye Whiskey at Mount Vernon, while he was taxing whiskey distillers at the same time. Way to get rid of your competitors, you say? Well not exactly, because when he sends his troopers to collect the taxes, the good folks in Pennsylvania rebelled on him and kick-started the Whiskey Rebellion.

Doing the prohibition years the Americans grew customers to the “softer” Canadian styled whiskeys that the bootleggers illegal smuggled into the country. After repeal, when the Americans distilleries were finally able to start distilling again, their customer’s palates had changed for good, and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with the big, bold, spicy rye Whiskey, and started to refer to it as the bastard whiskey, and the Rye industry almost disappeared. But here in the middle of the whiskey boom, it seems that Rye Whiskey finally has gained its place again. 

Over the next couple of month, the Son of Winston Churchill is going to focus entirely on rye whiskey. Come August 15, you are able to read the first review in our new series. 
Until then, Cheers 
Written By: Hasse Berg

Saturday, July 14, 2018

On Vacation

Sorry! We’re on Vacation.


The Son of Winston Churchill Crew wishes you all an
 amazing summer, and are looking forward to seeing you all back here, come August 8th

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tasting: Talisker Storm

Talisker’s Storm was added to their core range back in 2013 – the same year Talisker released their double matured Port Ruighe. Together with Sky, Dark Storm, 57° North and Neist Point, Storm and Point Ruighe represent Talisker’s NAS Core range.

Talisker states that the Storm “has been accentuated through a skilful blend of different aged Talisker casks”, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered, maybe most importantly; who’s the twat writing these descriptions, because aren’t each and every official bottling’ from Talisker made from blending different aged casks together?
It would, for example, have been quite nice for a change, being granted the information of cask type instead of the usual mumble jumble.

Storm is bottled at Talisker’s standard 45,8% ABV and the colour has been adjusted with caramel colouring, which always bums me out. I might have said it before, so stop me if you heard this one before, but not because I believe I can taste a difference when E155a caramel colouring has been added, but simply because I don’t like anyone to fiddle with my whisky like that.

Talisker’s Storm is retailed at $71USD here in Denmark, but can usually be found at various supermarkets for around $47USD.

Talisker. Storm
Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery: Talisker
Region: Island (Isle of Skye)
Age: NAS
Proof/ABV: 45,8%
DK Price: $71USD/450dkk
Release: Ongoing

Points: 84/100

Right off the bat, Talisker’s familiar red chilli pepper note, followed by a very clean cut smokiness and bitter orange marmalade with a tad of salty sea air.
Quite oily and creamy with a fruity taste of muskmelon and vanilla ice cream, with burned ash, black pepper and cinnamon.

Briny long finish on a fruit juicy trip.

Overall impression:
It’s a more tamed, accessible and not quite as complex as my beloved 10, but it’s defiantly one of the more enjoyable Talisker’s out there, and it kicks the rather failed barrel finished Port Ruighe’ ass, that I review a while back.

Photo & Review By: Hasse Berg

The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #96

1936 old Overholt rye. Pretty fascinating and extremely light and thin whiskey. Sweet Pete! Cheers