Friday, September 16, 2011

Willett Pot Still Reserve Taste Test

Patty has been thinking an awful lot about James Willett. When Liz posted the info about his family's distillery, Patty got curious and ordered a bottle of Willett Pot Still Reserve from Bev Mo with some gift certificates she'd been sitting on.

As you can see from the photo, the 750mL bottle is hand numbered. For $47 plus tax and shipping, The Pattys received bottle 127 of 266 out of barrel 147 delivered right to their front door. "Let's do a taste test," Patty said. In simpler times, Mr. Patty was a bartender and amateur sommalier. He also brews his own beer and is told that he is pretty good at it. "Educate me," Patty said.

From the bar, Mr. Patty retrieved three other kinds of Kentucky or Tennessee whiskey that is known collectively as bourbon: Jim Beam, Jack Daniel's and Gentleman Jack. Patty asked if she could taste on the rocks but Mr. Patty scoffed, so she did it the real way.

BEAM. What you would call "hot" because you can really taste the alcohol. If you swish it, sniff it, hold it on your tongue and savor the finish, you get oak, butterscotch, caramel, and a super sweet finish. "Blech," Patty said.

JACK. Not nearly as "hot" as the Beam: rounder, tastes like oranges and cloves.

GENTLEMAN JACK. A fanicer version of the standard stuff and definitely much finer. Again Patty got orange, but this time with caramel, molasses and a soft wood finish. Not bad! But still, not great.

WILLETT. THIS STUFF IS THE SHIT. At 47% alcohol instead of the standard 40%, not only can you get your buzz on quicker, but it is smooth, rich and silky. There are caramel and vanilla notes and a tart, dry woody finish possibly due to the higher proof. It's the finish that makes this stuff so astounding. For a good ten minutes, Patty's mouth sang with complex layers of flavor that only became more pleasant as the burn wore off. In fact, Patty let out a huge belch about 15 minutes after that was freaking delicious. Mr. Patty sat there looking like the cat who ate the canary. "Good?" Patty asked him. "Mmmmm hmmmmmmm" is about all he could manage with his mouth full. "I wouldn't send it back."

So in short, even those of you who do not necessarily like bourbon might enjoy this. If you do know your bourbon, definitely pick up a bottle, and like the Patty's, be sure to toast James, Lauren and Heidi.



Matt said...

The Pattys just got Matt's Friday afternoon taste buds going!

starship said...

Ummmm, can I come over?

shawn said...

James Willett would've inherited the distillery. Abigail the Folger fortune. Steve Bekins who hung with and liked Lynnette very much most likely would have been an heir to the moving company. A lot of heirs in this saga.

starship said...

I do believe my friendly neighborhood pub is calling....

starship said...

I sure hope you ate some crackers or something in between to refresh the palate. Gentlemen Jack, I believe is single malt, where as the regular stuff and the Beam is a blend...

Panamint Patty said...

Starship, Patty did not eat crackers but she downed some water in between the different flavors.

Matt, happy to be of service.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Ah yes... Bourbon.

If you're not going to have a mixed drink... and enjoy your liquor straight... Bourbon is the only way to go.

As the famous saying goes:
"All Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is Bourbon"

I've never had the Willett stuff... but, I swear by "Wild Turkey".

Give it a try... you'll never turn back.
As I read the thread... I was really hoping "Wild Turkey" was part of the taste test.
Oh well... maybe next time.

BTW, Patty... one minor correction, for your readers...

You said:
"At 47 proof instead of the standard 40, not only can you get your buzz on quicker, but it is smooth, rich and silky".

Technically... standard Bourbon is 80 proof... so, the Willetts is evidently 94 proof.

You're confusing "proof" with "alcohol by volume".

Very simply... "proof" is always double the "alcohol by volume".

40% "alcohol by volume" is 80 proof.
47% alcohol by volume is 97 proof.

Either way... Enjoy!

The world needs more threads on alcohol! LOL

Panamint Patty said...

UGH Thank you Lynyrd, Patty will make the correction right now.

If it ain't Budweiser or Thunderbird, we don't see it too often out here in Ballarat. ;)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Sorry... LOL

47% alcohol by volume is 94 proof. LOL

I said 97... LOL
47 + 47 = 97?

Oh well... after you have a few shots, math doesn't matter anyway... hahaha

Panamint Patty said...

Patty did some more reading about the Willett distillery. Apparently in the 1970's the family helped produce "gasohol" for people looking for alternatives to the long gas lines Patty remembers from her childhood. James' father's bourbons stopped being produced in 1984. If you can find some of the old stock, it is very collectable and expensive.

James had a sister Martha who married a norwegian man named Even (pronounced "Evan") who is now the master distiller at the family property. All of the old equipment is gone, but the proprietary strain of yeast in the mash is the same and the limestone water supply is the same.

James Willett's brother=in-law Even is a very reclusive dude and does not speak with strangers. Little is known about him except that he makes kick ass bourbons under different labels that get marketed all over the world.

Things the make you go, hmmmmm.