By Jake Emen
The Willett Distilling Company, aka, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, produces over a dozen different bourbons, plus a rye or two mixed in for good measure, spread out over several different brand names. They may be best known in some circles for their Small Batch Boutique Bourbon family, which includes Noah’s Mill, which happens to be one of my favorite bourbons on the shelf.
The eponymous Willett series consists of two bourbons and a rye, including the Willett Pot Still Reserve, which is widely considered to be both the top of the actual Willett and one of the best whiskeys coming out of Kentucky Distillers.
Bottled at 94 proof (47% ABV), Willet Pot Still Reserve is a single barrel straight bourbon which first made an appearance in 2008, and since has grown into a well-respected and highly rated offering.
The Pot Still Reserve stands out at the store due to its bottling. This is a bottle you’ll likely want to keep and continue using as your new whiskey decanter around the home. It features an exceedingly long and thin neck, which widens into a flattened circular bubble of a base, with a cork topper. What does it look like? A pot still, of course, and more specifically, the distillery’s very own 750-gallon pot still.
On the nose, you’ll notice a honey sweetness, with a touch of spice and molasses, and an overall intense aroma. The intensity continues on the palate with a quick burn interlaced with a range of flavors, including a honey and molasses sweetness, and a light citrus. Willett Pot Still Reserve coats your throat as you take a sip, offering a pleasant, un-stinging warmness which remains for some time, leaving you with the spicy remains of what had been a sweet sip.
Add some water or ice, and that’s when Willett Pot Still Reserve really comes out to play. You’ll find a light, fruity and floral aroma on the nose, a robust taste which adds nuttiness to its repertoire, and a sweet, soft, caramel and toffee finish.
Altogether, a very high quality bourbon with a lot to offer and a few unique streaks in there, and you get a great keeper of a decanter, too. Win-win.
Willett Pot Still Reserve has a wide distribution, and can be found at various online outlets for between $36 and $45. I’ve also seen it on the shelf for much more than that – so don’t overspend when you can get such a quality bourbon for such an accessible price from the right store.
Willett Pot Still Reserve has garnered several awards and accolades over the years, including a gold at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a 95.5 rating in Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible, and a 90 rating from Malt Advocate Magazine.