OLD BARDSTOWN BOTTLED-IN-BOND

I’ve been on a bottled-in-bond kick of late and have enjoyed sampling some of the various varieties available. The horse on the label caught my eye. In past visits, I had noticed the bottles, but had failed to catch the distiller – Willett’s. You’ll recall that we’ve sampled some of Willett’s other products before – Kentucky Vintage Bourbon.   

Sometime sourcer, now distiller  

The Willett name traces back to 1936 and includes a number of brands – Willett Pot Still, Willett Estate, Noah’s Mill, Rowan Creek, Johnny Drum, Pure Kentucky, Kentucky Vintage – and two Old Bardstown variations – one younger bourbon and one bottled in bond. The Old Bardstown brand traces its roots back to its introduction in the 1940s.

Over the years, Willett (sometimes labeled as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) has been a sourcer, purchasing a variety of barrels (including some likely sourced from nearby Heaven Hill). In 2012, Willett began their own distilling operations. By 2016, Willett was releasing its first distilled and bottled versions of Old Bardstown from the new distillery. Willett now is also proudly featured on the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail.  

The Tasting 

Willett’s product is made from a mashbill of 72% corn, 13% rye, and 15% malted barley. This bottle was purchased for a deal at $19.99.

As a reminder, this is a bottled-in-bond product, meaning the following requirements must be met:

  • A product of a single distillation season
  • Produced by one distiller, at one distillery
  • Aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years
  • Bottled at 100 proof

Eye: Light copper

Nose: A little vanilla, caramel and dark fruits. Nothing overwhelming here – but nothing underwhelming either. Very middle-of—the-road. 

Palate: Caramel and dried oak. The mouthfeel is a little thin, and somewhat weak for a bottled-in-bond product.   

Finish: Short-to-medium with cinnamon and spice with a slight burn.   

Overall: Willett has put out some great products over the years. This is one that might take a little longer to perfect as they continue to mature as they transition from sourcer to distiller. At similar price points, one can find better bottled-in-bond products from both Evan Williams and Jim Beam.  

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