Kentucky Vintage Small Batch Bourbon is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers at their Willett Distillery.
The Willett Distillery was founded by Thompson Willett on his family’s farm three short years after the repeal of prohibition. Both Thompson and his father has worked at the Max Selliger & Co. Distillery but, in 1936, Thompson left Selliger to build his own distillery and the first batch, which was approximately 30 barrels of spirit, was produced on the 17th March 1936. The distillery remained in Willett family ownership until 1st July 1984 when Even G. Kulsveen, son-in-law to Thompson Willett, purchased the property and formed Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Ltd., which Even’s family runs today.
After a period when no whiskey was distilled from the early 1980s (during which time it was an independent bottling company), the distilling plant was renovated and now has three operating stills – a column still, a “doubler”, and a pot still which recommenced distilling in 2012. As well as Johnny Drum whiskies the distillery also produces Noahs Mill, Johnny Drum, Willett’s Bourbon and Rye. The whiskey is stored in one of the eight warehouses each capable of holding between 5,000 to 6,000 barrels (total capacity 48,623 barrels), approximately a quarter the size of those found at other distilleries. The warehouses were built on some of the highest ground in the county, assuring that a fresh breeze would aid in the maturation of the whiskey.
By law, Bourbon must be made up of at least 51% corn and be aged a minimum of two years in a new charred white oak barrel, standards that were pioneered by early Bourbon makers such as Evan Williams and Rev. Elijah Craig. Kentucky Vintage Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey comes from a small selection of the finest and rarest barrels. Each barrel is handpicked according to its taste, aroma and bouquet. The extra ageing allows the whiskey to mature and adds flavour, depth and character. Each bottling of Kentucky Vintage Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is usually aged for around 6 to 9 years.
Kentucky Vintage Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey is a golden amber colour with a clean nose of corn, vanilla, toffee, hints of mint, oak, spice and old leather. Light oak and a touch of resin is initially on the palate, followed by dried fruits, subtle spice and a little orange peel or marmalade. Finishes softly but with balance, and just a touch of sweet caramel and oak.