Store Picks: Willett Family Estate Barrel 657 – Liquor Barn Pick – Barrel 657

 Pick Information- This offering was chosen by the barrel selection team at Liquor Barn in Kentucky.  This barrel was picked in person at the Willett distillery and they chose barrel 657, which is a high corn mash bill offering.  This is Willett’s own distillate and not sourced.  I am reviewing bottle 10 of 193.This pick is105.4 proof and was aged 5 years.

Color–Nice dark amber. 

Nose– Little baking spice mixed with sweetness from high corn mash bill.  A second nosing gives off huge burnt (in the good way) popcorn.  Yes, literally smells like slightly burned popcorn. 

Palate– Sweet cherry and citrus flavors up front.  Little oak on back end along with some of that burnt corn from the nose.  Very, very smooth throughout.  Mouthfeel is medium.

Finish -  Short but close to medium finish.  Fruit notes come through on the finish as well.  Again, for 105.4 proof, amazing smooth.

Wallet – Willett bottles are hot items in the bourbon world right now, especially the bottles of their distillate.  These store picks sell out the day they hit the shelf, assuming they actually hit the shelf.  IF you were in the right place at the right time and got one at retail it would set you back around $69.  For that price, well worth the uniqueness of the fact it is a Willett distillate and store pick.  The price you will have to pay once they are “off the shelf” is anywhere from $230-$275 per bottle.  I always say at that price it depends on your bourbon budget.

Head to Head It is hard to compare this offering head to head with a comparable Willett offering.  Most available Willetts are sourced and this is their distillate.  They do have a 5-year release of their distillate that was at the gift shop but it is not of this high corn mash bill recipe.

Bourbon Wes saysPersonally, I loved this store pick.  I still cannot get over the very distinct, burnt popcorn smell and flavor.  That mix with the sweetness was a killer combination and makes this a very unique pick.  As a huge Willett fan (I plan on writing a piece dedicated to their rise and where I see them poised in the future) this Liquor Barn pick doesn’t disappoint.  Although this particular barrel is no longer available in stores, if you happen to “win” one of can trade someone for one I would definitely consider that option.

Rating (tasting notes + price point + uniqueness) – I would rate this store pick a 7 out of 10.

Wes Hardin

You can find me on Instagram @bourbon_wes and Twitter @BourbonWes

Store picks and barrel selections are popping up at liquor stores, hotels, restaurants, bars, and bourbon clubs and we would love to review your barrel selections in this column. 

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Ratings System:   1-2 – Would not suggest to anyone.  Literally not drinkable neat.

  3-5  -  Solid pour but not considered special. Would not purchase second bottle

  6-8  -  Excellent pour.  Robust, interesting, and different compared to regular offering.

  9-10 -  Outstanding. Hunt for multiple bottles.  On par with allocated releases.

Jordan GrigsbyComment