Kentucky Vintage

Kentucky Vintage
Kentucky Vintage
Distillery: Willett
Region: Kentucky
Country: USA
Abv: 45.0%

Today we have what is described as a "Small Batch Bourbon" by the producer Willett, although they don't say precisely what that means. I think it's as significant as brewers calling their beer "craft" – that is to say, while it may once have meant something, these days it can just be a marketing label.

They also claim it is "allowed to age long beyond that of any ordinary Bourbon" but with no age statement in sight, it's hard to know how to take that.

In the glass it's a pleasing enough bronze colour, and the nose is very enticing – a caramel sweetness, vanilla and without any real hint of raw grain that you can sometimes find. Water softens it but manages to retain that sweetness, although now more fudge than caramel.

In the mouth, it's powerful stuff – tasting much stronger than the 45% ABV would suggest. That caramel gives a sweet start on the tip of your tongue, and a real spiciness spreads throughout the mouth rapidly. The finish is fairly well drawn out, with just a hint of sharpness putting in an appearance towards the end which spoils it a little for me.

Watered, the alcohol is cut back enough to allow some of the other flavours to come out. If anything it's sweeter than without the water, a honey like sweetness manages to linger well and then the spicy pepper edge comes in and blends perfectly with it. That raw edge I detected in the finish seems to have faded too.

An all round tasty bourbon that benefits from a splash of water to smooth it out.

This review was originally published 1st August, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.