Review: Willett Family Estate Straight Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old

Review: Willett Family Estate Straight Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old


With Willett’s renaissance running high, people have been waiting with anticipation for the first 100% rye offering from master distiller Drew Kulsveen’s new operations at the distillery.  Thankfully, patience has paid off and the whiskey was worth the wait. This small batch rye is like a rookie baseball player stepping up to the plate and hitting a walk-off home run at his first major league at-bat. Don’t be deceived by the label’s youthful age statement: this bottle presents a maturity that belies a rye aged only two years. It’s immediately evident in the nose; where there’s a wild complexity of citrus and spice that proceeds to a dose of floral notes. Tasting is another matter altogether: there’s an immediate hot punch usually reserved for rye spirits 4 to 6 years older, with wood and cinnamon giving way to a finish generous with fruit and mint that lingers for a pleasantly long time.

This is just the opening volley for something potentially incredible happening down the road in Bardstown (an expression with a Grand Marnier finish is on tap for later this fall), and as a bonus we get to reap the benefits of time. As the stock gets older, it will be interesting to mark the contrast between younger and older siblings of the same stock. If this two-year rye is indicative of things to come in the future, get ready for the media myth-making maelstrom to catapult the Willett brand into the stratosphere.

109 Proof.

A- / $40 / 

Willett Family Estate Straight Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old




Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.


  1. Edoc on August 11, 2014 at 7:29 am

    So this rye is now officially distilled at Willett?

    In the past, these offerings have been labelled “Family Estate Bottled Rye” (or bourbon) which gives a hint that the sourcing of the product was at MGP (formerly known as LDI) in Indiana.

    I’m looking forward to this one, Willett has long been one of my favorites.

  2. Jay Tee on October 17, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Bought a bottle in Louisville early September as a gift for a friend here in California. Had the pleasure to sit around the table w/ some whiskey snobs as we opened the bottle. Expecting (too) young and a hot burn we all feel out of our chairs… SMOOTH! Tasty as a 2 year old I have ever tried. I am now in possession of three bottles I picked up at various liquor stores around Los Angeles. Will definitely store one as a keeper until the next release at 4 or 5 years… tasting party !!

  3. D S on January 5, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I’ve tasted this and enjoyed it- but I think it definitely tastes young. Promising, but not quite ready yet.
    Also, you mention this as the “first 100% rye offering,” and from what I’ve read, that’s not what this is. Willett is distilling a variety of mashbills, and the 2-year rye released is something like 53% rye, 30% corn, 17% barley.

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