Willett Special Purchase v. Four Roses Single Barrel: Battle Single Barrel Continues!

The Battle for Single Barrel domination continues!  This round we have two worthy contenders.  The first is Four Roses Single Barrel, 100 proof, and perhaps one of the best young single barrel whiskeys out there, each one is aged between 4-5 years.  It is going up against a very worthy opponent.  The Willett Single Barrel was from a friend’s barrel purchase.  Barrels run about $4K-$5K, so typically a bunch of guys go together to purchase a barrel and then dole it out amongst themselves.  The up side of this approach is that one, you get to sample a lot of barrels before you make your purchase decision, and two, you get the whiskey at barrel strength!

And Barrel strength it was, WOW!  So how did they do?

First the Four Roses Single Barrel.  This is a fine bourbon whiskey, and one I’ve had on several occasions now.  It has a great floral bouquet and a medium mouthfeel.  While it is high proof at 100 proof, or 50% ABV it wasn’t harsh at all, but had big flavors and a nice smooth and rounded finish.  The flavors were of vanilla, and honey, with some cherry on the nose, and on the tongue.  It had good heat, but like I said it had a well rounded and smooth finish.  Nice stuff.

The Willett was a complete unknown to me.  First I have never had Willett whiskey before, they don’t sell it in Idaho, and second I have never had a whiskey from a single barrel purchase before.  So, I really didn’t know what to expect.  The first thing I noticed was that it had a ton of legs, very oily looking and viscous.  When I nosed it, it almost burned the inside of my nostril.  This is serious whiskey!  I don’t know the proof, because of the circumstances by which it was procured, however I am guessing that it is north of 125 proof.  140 proof wouldn’t surprise me.  This whiskey had been aged 7 years in wood, so I knew there had to be more to it than just alcohol, but for the first few minutes, that is all I could smell.  After a bit it began to open up and the aroma got much more interesting.  It was still boosy to be sure, but I also smelled plum, and honey, and a syrupy maple type thing going on in there as well.

The flavor of this whiskey was very big and bold.  It started sweet and syrupy with vanilla and a touch of honey.  The mouthfeel was thick and oily, and coated the palate well.  About mid-palate is when the heat arrived, and there is plenty of heat!  However, while it was challenging, it wasn’t overpowering to the flavor or the whiskey itself.  The finish was long…real long.  Like 5 minutes after I took a drink I could still feel it in my chest!  For someone like me that drinks whiskey fairly regularly it is a real treat to have a whiskey like this that can still overwhelm my senses but in a really good way.

So the winner here is the Willett.  No big surprise, but then again I really expected that Four Roses would be a much more worthy opponent.  It wasn’t that the Four Roses was bad, because it was quite good as it always is, no here it was simply out classed by a much more well aged and constructed opponent.  It is like if  the Duke Blue Devils had to play the Miami Heat.  Duke is a great team for a college basketball squad, but put them up against some of the best players in the world, and they are going to get housed.  That is what happened here.

So if you are keeping track, the bracket now looks like this:Next up is Eagle Rare 10 year old vs. Evan Williams Single Barrel.  Things are getting interesting!




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20 Comments on “Willett Special Purchase v. Four Roses Single Barrel: Battle Single Barrel Continues!”

  1. August 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm #


    • Don
      August 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

      Oh, Like you would even know! STFU.

  2. August 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Yo Don!

    Never heard of Willett. Sounds crazy good! You have nice friends.


    • Don
      August 4, 2011 at 9:08 am #

      That I do G! And yes the Willett was great. I have to try and procure a bottle of the real willett.

  3. Kyle
    August 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I think if Duke had ACC refs they would probably have a good shot against the Heat. I can’t wait till the Knob Creek matchup.

    • Don
      August 4, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      I’m looking forward to it too.

  4. August 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    Winner winner….chicken dinner. Jim, don’t be a spoiled sport….go have a beer.

    • Don
      August 4, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      Good advice Greg.

  5. August 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Don – 130pf…..it’s a lightweight.

    • Don
      August 4, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      130? That is it? Man I it wouldn’t have shocked me if it was 140 or more! Well crafted whiskey. Thank You for sending it! It certainly is crazy good, and I hope it doesn’t become a ringer for the rest of the competition, but it just might make it all the way. We’ll see.

  6. FatCatKC
    August 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    That is awesome you can buy a whole barrel of bourbon? Time for a road trip! What kind of glasses are you drinking out of?

    • Don
      August 4, 2011 at 9:12 am #

      You can see in the photo. Glencarins.

  7. FatCatKC
    August 4, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I normally drink out of shot glasses or on the rocks so I’ve never used those types of glasses before. Didn’t know what they were called. I’ll have to get me some now and try to be more discerning in my bourbon tasting. So far I rate bourbon on levels of f’n awesomeness and haven’t really tried to pick out the nuance.

  8. bill
    September 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I have tried Willett, Like the Four Roses both single barrel and small batch a WHOLE lot better

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