Willett Family Estate Single Barrel 10 Year Bourbon (Barrel 2070)

93 Awesome

Sip it neat, if possible, in a Glencairn glass and you will find yourself one of the better bourbons on the market today. It is easily in the top 3 bourbons I’ve tried this year.

glencairn-amazonStats:

  • Barrel # 2070 (Bottle 118/161)
  • Aged 10 years
  • 63.1% ABV (126.2 Proof)
  • Bottled by Willett/Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (Distillery unknown)

What it is:

The Willett name is a popular brand in the bourbon world today. Operating for several years as independent bottlers in Bardstown, KY, all the of the bourbon released thus far has been rectified bourbon, meaning it was distilled elsewhere, and purchased in the barrel by Willett to be released under their name. Willett recently finished construction of a still in Bardstown, KY, and has begun production on bourbon on-site. Until that bourbon is aged long enough for release, their bourbon will be sourced elsewhere.

The Family Estate series of Bourbon and Rye mark the longer aged versions of the choice barrels of whiskey they purchase. In particular, the bourbon is aged around 10 years and released at barrel proof, making it a very popular release.

Willett FE 10 1
This bottle was purchased at a local store for $79.  It is 10 years old. Pulled from barrel #2070, it is 63.1% ABV (126.2 proof).  It is marked as bottle 118 of 161

Packaging:

Traditional tall, sloped-shoulder bottle with a cream label. The Willett crest is proudly displayed front and center and the barrel number and proof are listed on a separate label above it. The cork is waxed, and the color of the wax varies based upon the distiller’s whim or the customer’s discretion. This bottle was a dark royal blue. It’s a very attractive packaging, worthy of a prominent space on a bourbon shelf.

Appearance:

The bourbon is a deep, woody, earthy color that almost pleads with the nose for a deep inhalation and a taste.

Aroma: Willett FE 10 rear

There is a strong caramel sweetness with a hint of oak on the nose. There are some very slight banana and vanilla hints as well. It’s an extremely rich and full aroma. One of the better noses I’ve smelled all year.

Taste:

Full flavored right off the bat. Slight burn on the tip of the tongue followed by rich caramel and toffee on the middle. It is extremely smooth, with a very mild alcohol burn, but packed full of earthy, dark fruit flavors on the back of the mouth.

Finish:

Long, lasting, and satisfying. For a 126.2 proof bourbon, there is no overwhelming alcohol burn on this one, which is surprising. It is very well balanced with cinnamon and caramel lingering in the mouth long after the swallow. There is the faintest hint of tannin from the barrel, but it remains distant and only adds to the experience.

Synopsis:

I consider myself lucky that I get to try quite a few bourbons on a regular basis. With so many different options, it’s sometimes easy to miss the nuances between the run of the mill bourbons and the good ones.  This bourbon makes it easy to get it right, as it’s exceptional from the start.

An excellent sipping bourbon in any right. I did try this with a few drops of distilled water. That does serve to bring out some banana flavors, but overall detracts from the fullness that makes this an exceptional bourbon. Thus, I must almost insist that a few drops of water be the demarcation line with this bourbon. Do not drink it over ice. Sip it neat, if possible, in a Glencairn glass and you will find yourself one of the better bourbons on the market today. It is easily in the top 3 bourbons I’ve tried this year.

ModernThirst.com Score: 93 out of 100 Points.


The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.

  1. Appearance: 15 points
  2. Nose: 25 Points
  3. Palate/Taste: 35 Points
  4. Finish: 25 points
  • 95+        Epic
  • 90-94     Excellent, Good representative of its style
  • 85-89     Solid sipper
  • 80-84     Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
  • 75-79     Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
  • <75        Rot Gut, avoid
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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for ModernThirst.com. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. Since college, he has dabbled in beer, bourbon, wine tasting, beer making, and currently works in finance. He has also been published on Liquor.com. He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at Bill@ModernThirst.com.

13 Comments

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say superb blog!

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  5. I have a bottle of Willett FEB 10 yr, and I concur with your review. This is a fine bourbon. I received it as a gift, and will make sure I always have some version of Willett FEB in my cabinet. It has wonderful flavor, tempered heat and spice, and is extremely enjoyable.

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    • This was purchased around the beginning of the year from Westport Whiskey and Wine in Louisville. Since then, I’ve seen the prices of Willett’s family estate bourbons skyrocket. I paid the same price for a 9 year at Liquor Barn a few months later, then the same for an 8 year, and later $10 more for 7 year.

      From what I’ve heard, Willett is winding down their private selection program, since their stocks of old barrels have dwindled, and they have a hard time finding older barrels on the market. So if you find anything over 7 years, I’d snatch it up, price considering. They may not be around long, and the Kulsveens have great palates for picking barrels.

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