Issue No. 141 —

Willett Exploratory Cask Finish (XCF) Version 1.0

Willett XCF

This review us based on the collective notes from a Baltimore American Whiskey Club (BAWC) tasting conducted on Dec. 6th, 2014. Attending members were Josh Sullivan, PJ Sullivan, Owen Lang, Justin Custer, Devin Byrnes & Steven Silberg. Written by PJ Sullivan.

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products (MGP) of Lawrenceburg, Indiana & Willett Distilling Co. of Bardstown, Kentucky

Proof: 103.4

Age: 7 years, 3 months

Color: Deep Copper / Chestnut (1.0)

Price: $140

I love that the Willett team is getting creative with this new Exploratory Cask Finish (XCF) product line. Version 1.0 is a seven-year-old rye finished in Curacao casks. The rye was distilled by MGP of Indiana (I know, I know…) and then aged in Willett’s warehouses for seven years in American white oak barrels with a #4 char. Drew Kulsveen, the master distiller at Willett, had barrels shipped from France that had previously aged Curacao. Curacao is aged in used bourbon barrels before being sweetened and mixed with Cognac. So you can see how this would make a good pairing. The seven-year-old rye was finished in these Curacao barrels for 90 days and then the small batch was bottled into only 6,912 bottles.

Nose: Marmalade is the predominate smell here. We also noticed a lot of herbal, floral, and earthy notes like menthol, eucalyptus, agave, and fennel.

Palate: We didn’t get as much orange in the palate, surprisingly. The herbal and medicinal notes stuck around. We were also throwing around terms like “Ricola” and “candy you’d expect your grandmother to pull from the bottom of her purse” (this is a compliment if you didn’t know).

Finish: The herbal tones carry all the way through. It finishes with a bittersweet orange rind, Amaro-like, thickness.

Flavor-Wheel-Willett-XCF-Version-1.0 (1)

In a Word: Orange

Conclusion: This one gets creativity points for sure. It’s very unique. We feel like the flavors from the cask finish pair well with the seven year rye. It’s a lot like an amaro, so it’s a great after meal treat. In the end, it’s a bit overpriced. $140 is a lot to shell out. Of course you’re paying for its rarity, but we’d like to see this come in around $50-$70. Definitely worth trying and makes a nice collectors item. We are really looking forward to version 2.0.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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