5th Aug 2022

FAQs About Willett Whiskey and Bardstown, Kentucky

  • Bourbon
  • Whiskey
FAQs About Willett Whiskey and Bardstown, Kentucky

Let's take a deep dive into the world of Willett Whiskey and answer all your questions! Whether you're wondering about the family history, the city of Bardstown, the Willett Whiskey options, or everything all at once, you've come to the right place!

We're going to answer all your burning Willett Whiskey questions!

How long has Willett Whiskey been around?

The Willett Distillery was established in 1936, only three years after Prohibition ended. In 2017, the family estate celebrated its 80th anniversary of when Thomas Willett placed his barrels in storage. The 80th anniversary just so happened to fall on St. Patrick's Day. The distillery remains a Willett family estate to this day.

What is the history behind the Willett Distillery?

In 1792, William Willett made his move to Nelson County, Kentucky. Funnily enough, 1792 was the same year that Kentucky became a state. Let's get to know the three founders.

First, we have John David Willett, born in 1841 and was the Master Distiller at Moore, Willett, and Frenke Distillery, along with four other distilleries in Kentucky. Next, we have Aloysius Lambert Willett, born in 1883, and since the age of 15, he has been in the Kentucky Bourbon business. And finally, we have our leading man, Aloysius Lambert Thompson Willett, born in 1909. He was the main founder and President of the

As mentioned above, the family burst into the industry in 1936. As the years passed, they continued introducing more whiskies to the market. In 1940, the Willett family introduced the Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. By 1960, they had filled their 100,000th barrel.

In 1984, Thompson's daughter, Martha, and her husband, Even Kulsveen, stepped into their leadership roles at the Willett Distillery. Their son, Drew, joined the business in 2003. In 2005, their daughter Britt and her husband joined as well.

In 2008, the Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon and Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye were introduced to the Willett whiskey collection.

Copper stills found their way on the scene in 2012.

As of today, the distillery remains in the family and continues to flourish.

Where is the Willett distillery?

The distillery grounds are located in Bardstown, Kentucky.

What is Bardstown, Kentucky, known for?

Bardstown is actually a pretty big deal in the bourbon world. Bardstown is known as the bourbon capital of the world. That's right, and I said world. Bardstown is much bigger than the United States. It's global!

Is the Willett Distillery the only one in Bardstown, KY?

No. The Willett Distillery is not the only distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. There are actually ten other distilleries that call Bardstown Home. The other ten distillers include:

  • Bardstown Bourbon Company
  • Barton 1792 Distillery
  • Heaven Hill Distillery
  • James B. Beam Distilling Co.
  • Lux Row Distillers
  • Log Still Distillery
  • Four Roses Bourbon
  • Maker's Mark
  • Preservation Distillery
  • Old Steelhouse Distillery

What is there to do in Bardstown?

Bardstown is quite the charming small town that gives you a warm, nostalgic feel.

Many people go to Bardstown to visit the distilleries and do tastings. Funny enough, many believe that the Willett Distillery is among the top distilleries to visit while in Bardstown.

There's also a tremendous amount of history to explore in Bardstown. There are several different museums that you should definitely check out. You all must be here because you're big fans of whiskey.

If you find yourself in Bardstown, get your whiskey history fix at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. That's only one museum among the many that they have to offer.

The famous Kentucky Bourbon Festival is also a popular activity that occurs in September. This year the Kentucky Bourbon Festival falls on the weekend of September 16-18.

How many options does Willett Whiskey offer?

The Willett Distillery offers twelve different options. Here are the twelve options that the Willett Family Estate has introduced, along with their alcohol by volume, proof, nose, and palate. This is the ultimate guide and breakdown of each Willett Whiskey option.

  • Willett Pot Still Reserve - 47% alc./vol. (94 proof)
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, spices, and citrus
    • Palate: Caramel, vanilla, spices, and citrus
  • Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon - (alc./vol. varies)
    • Each bottle varies.
  • Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye - 55% alc./vol. (110 proof)
    • Nose: Tart cherry
    • palate: Cherry, burnt vanilla, and spices
  • Drum Private Stock - 50.5% alc./vol. (101 proof)
    • Nose: Sour apple, vanilla, and oak
    • Palate: Spices, vanilla, and fruits
  • Drum Black Label - 43% alc./vol. (86 proof)
    • Nose: Woodsy, floral, mint, honey
    • Palate: Caramel, oak, and pepper
  • Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond - 50% alc./vol. (100 proof)
    • Nose: Sugary and cherry
    • Palate: Cherry, vanilla, caramel, and oak
    • Exclusively in Kentucky
  • Old Bardstown Estate Bottled - 50.5% alc./vol. (101 proof)
    • Nose: Herbal, citrus, and sweet
    • Palate: Herbs, sweet fruit, oak, and vanilla
  • Old Town Bardstown 90 Proof - 45% alc./vol. (90 proof)
    • Nose: Floral, vanilla, caramel, and oak
    • Palate: Floral, vanilla, caramel, and oak
  • Noah's Mill - 57.15% alc./vol. (114.3 proof)
    • Nose: Floral, prunes, and walnuts
    • Palate: Walnuts, prunes, spices, lavender, caramel
  • Rowan's Creek - 50.05% alc./vol. (100.1 proof)
    • Nose: Herbal/Floral
    • Palate: Caramel, floral notes, and vanilla
  • Pure Kentucky - 53.5% alc./vol. (107 proof)
    • Nose: Toffee, fruit, eucalyptus, and oak
    • Palate: Cinnamon, toffee, caramel, pepper, oak, and spices
  • Kentucky Village - 45% alc./vol. (90 proof)
    • Original Sour Mash

What is the Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon Whiskey like?

The Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon is a small batch of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that comes in a unique, elegant bottle. This special bottle that you see was first launched in 2008. The notes are a balance between caramel, spices, vanilla, and citrus. The nose is "lemon vanilla cake." It's 47% alc./vol. and 94 proof.

Which of the Willett whiskies are rye whiskies?

Only the Willett Whiskey that is a Rye Whiskey is the Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye. The rest of the Willett whiskies are made with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye is an outlier among the rest.

What is the Willett Family Estate 4-Year Rye Whiskey like?

The Willett Family Estate 4-Year Rye Whiskey is a small batch of rye whiskey that is a popular option among the Willett collection. With notes of dark cherry, burnt vanilla, and spices, the Willett Rye Whiskey has a long finish that bursts through your palette. It also carries hints of cinnamon and oak, but the spices stand front and center. The Willett Rye is 55% alc./vol. and 110 proof.

What is a purple top?

A purple top is a single barrel bourbon whiskey! There is a limited supply of each purple top option.

Why are purple tops a big deal?

Willett purple tops can be quite hard to find because of their scarcity. The purple tops are highly sought after in the bourbon world. Purple tops carry more depth and complexity than a regular, old whiskey. It's a highly aged single barrel bourbon with a high reputation. Each barrel is different, and because it's only a single barrel, the quantity is extremely limited. Many have trouble finding purple tops on the market.

Where can I find a purple top bottle?

Although purple tops are hard to find, you can find a purple top at Liquorama. Liquorama carries a Willett Family Estate 19-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey 750ml. Bottled at cask strength, this specific purple top was aged for 19 years and has notes of brown sugar, dark chocolate, and coffee beans. These notes and complemented by the bold notes of rye, buttered biscuits, and caramel. This option is intense, bold, and strong. The finish has hints of cloves, ginger, and smoke.

What is the Wolves Willett collaboration?

Wolves and the Willett Family Estate released two collaborations, volume one and volume two. The collaboration is called "The Rye Project".

Where is Wolves Whiskey distilled?

The Wolves distillery operates out of Sonoma Country, California. The Master Distiller Marko Karakasevic is a thirteenth-generation master distiller.

What are Wolves Willett Volume One and Volume Two like?

Wolves Willett Volume One is a blend between a low-rye whiskey (51%) that's aged for six years in American oak and Willett Distillery's six/seven-year rye whiskey (74%). The majority of the blend is the Willett six/seven-year rye. Volume One has notes of oak, dried dark fruit, vanilla, and butterscotch. You'll also notice hints of floral notes and spice.

Volume Two of the Wolves Rye Project is the second collaboration with the Willett Family Estate. Wolves Willett Volume Two uses a low-content Rye as the base and selected barrels of six/seven-year straight rye from the Willett Family Estate.

How should I drink Willett Whiskey?

Willett Whiskey, like most all whiskies, is best either neat or on the rocks. However, that doesn't mean you can use Willett Whiskey for a nice cocktail. The Old Bardstown makes a great Old Manhattan and Whiskey Sour. The Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye makes a delicious Manhattan and Sazerac.

What are some cocktail recipes using Willett Whiskey?

Like I mentioned above, Willett Whiskey does make for a nice cocktail. Let's learn how to make a proper Sazerac and Whiskey Sour using Willett Whiskey.


Do you know what the oldest cocktail in America is? It's the Sazerac! Created by Peychaud, some even say that the Sazerac dates back to the mid-18th century! To make a good Sazerac, you need a good rye whiskey! For this cocktail recipe, you'll need:

2 oz Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye

5 dashes of Bitters

1/4 oz Absinthe

1 Sugar Cube

Lemon Peel

Instructions: In a mixing glass, add 5 dashes of Bitters, 2 ounces of Willett Family Estate 4 Year Rye, and a sugar cube. Muddle it down roughly. You don't want the sugar to dissolve completely. It should be grainy.

Once you're done muddling, add some ice to your glass and stir until your glass is frosty. When your glass is frosty, your cocktail is adequately chilled.

Pour 1/4 of an ounce of Absinthe into your serving glass. You want to wash your glass with it. Tilt your glass sideways and rotate. Keep the remaining Absinthe in the glass.

Strain your mixture into your serving glass. Make sure the sugar grains make it into your serving glass. Finally, garnish your glass with a lemon peel. Enjoy!

Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour isn't as old as the Sazerac, but it's definitely a classic whiskey cocktail that you can't go wrong with! The Whiskey Sour dates back to the 1860s, but many say that it could have been well before that. For the Whiskey Sour, you'll need:

2 oz Old Town Bardstown 90 Proof

1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Egg White

1 oz Simple Syrup (adjust to taste)

Lemon Twist

Maraschino Cherry

In a mixing glass, add 2 oz of Old Town Bardstown 90 Proof, 1 oz simple syrup, 1 oz fresh lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of egg white. Shake until the egg whites become foamy. Add ice and shake again. Pour into a cocktail glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and maraschino cherry. Enjoy!

Where can I buy Willett Whiskey?

You can buy Willett Whiskey at Liquorama. Located in Upland, California, Liquorama has a wide selection of wine, beer, and spirits.

If you're not in the area, don't worry! Liquorama offers shipping through their store website! Get your favorite wines, beers, and spirits shipped right to your door without even having to leave your home!

What is Liquorama?

Liquorama is a family-owned and operated fine wine and spirits establishment. Open since 1978, we offer excellent service and great prices! Even better, we offer the convenience of shipping!

With the largest selection of wine, beer, and spirits, we have everything you need for your next gathering all in one place! Make things even easier and get your favorites shipped right to your door with our shipping service!