Review: Willett Single Barrel Rye 3 Years Old

Review: Willett Single Barrel Rye 3 Years Old

No big ceremony here: I can’t find much info on the mashbill (or anything else, really) for this whiskey, but I found this little Kentucky gem at Costco for all of $32.99.

A really young, high-proof rye (110 proof), this lil’ upstart demands water and plenty of it. Without agua it’s just too brash (not to mention alco-fueled) to get a real handle on. Bring it down to a temperate level, though, and you’ll find lots to love: Big, candied orange notes, tangerine almost, caramel sweetness on the back end, plus honeycomb and toffee. But oranges over everything.

For all it has to offer, this is still a very young rye, which is no more evident than in its relatively thin body, which fades away far too quickly. Lovely character. Would love to see this rye’s power at 5 or 6 years.

110 proof. Reviewed: Bottle #9, lot #33/170.

B+ / $33 /

Willett Single Barrel Rye 3 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Florin on January 11, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Christopher, thanks for your blog, I really enjoy it!
    This is LDI juice, not Kentucky — look for the “Distilled in Indiana” print on the back label. Your prayer has been answered — the current release is a 5yo, has it for sale. On some nights I too find it hot, but when I’m really on my game and ready to enjoy a taste, there’s nothing better — at full strength. Sku and Jason Pyle have also recently reviewed the 3yo.

  2. Tom on December 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I recently opened a bottle of the Willet 5 year 110 proof Rye Whiskey. Wow! I was impressed. I’ve got a large selection of bourbons and scotches but only recently ventured into “rye” territory. I have Templeton Rye which is good but the Willet 5 year knocked it’s socks off. The templeton makes great Manhattans and is a good solid whiskey along with the history that goes with it. But the Willet…I don’t want to waste any of that with another drink save a few drops of water. Drink it neat. Smooth, sweet notes, yet spicey and warm but overly so. No rough edges but very full on the palate IMO. A lot more complex. I’d like to compare it to a Sazerac or Thomas Handy but sadly I don’t have those just yet.

  3. Ed O'Connor on December 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Willett’s 5 Year Single Barrel Estate Rye is one of my absolute favorite ryes. It starts out too hot, but after a few minutes or a tiny splash of water, it’s pretty amazing. Great concentrations of flavors. I like High West’s Rendezvous Rye as well, but it is lighter and while more elegant, it’s not quite as intense as the Willett. And the Willet’s is only $30 in my area, which is mind boggling. (The High West is $45)

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