I have a long history with Willett but the majority of my fondness for them comes from the days of being able to buy their sourced Family Estate single barrels right off my local's shelf for $55. Those days are long gone and now you're lucky to be graced with the opportunity to pay $200 for a bottle at their gift shop. Here lately however there have been some more affordable though much younger products released from them that were distilled in house. Thus far I've had ups and downs with their self distilled products - while I liked the Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond and a Family Estate Single Barrel 4 year, I absolutely hated the 2 year small batch rye they put out last year. I found that product so hot, raw, and undrinkable that I drain poured it. I had heard the 3 year rye was better but I went into this bottle with a lot of hesitation.
Aged 3 years; 56.4% ABV; thanks to /u/unbreakablesausage for the secret santa gift
Nose: Hot and spicy. Spearmint, pine, menthol, and a bit more sugary wood sweetness than I'd expect for 3 years old. It leans young as the grainy new make notes are detectable and the ethanol is a little untamed.
Taste: Sweet and spicy. Less ethanol forward than the nose but also a bit less spicy and bit more sweet than the nose. Sugary wood sweets, pine, spearmint, and a little rough grainy new make. The finish is a little short considering the proof and I suppose that's due to the relatively young age. What is noticeably absent that tends to plague most craft products is the lack of any weird funky off notes that don't belong in a bourbon or rye whiskey.
Thoughts: This is a tremendous improvement over the 2 year rye and shows promise. I can't wait to see what their products taste like with more age. Considering that a lot of craft distillery upstarts are putting out stuff as old as this that tastes like garbage, it seems Willett is one of the few that actually has a promising future ahead of them.
Rating: C+ / C
Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating.