Monday, November 3, 2014
Willett XCF: Orange You Glad It's a New Willett?
Willett XCF Exploratory Cask Finish is a seven year old MGP rye finished in Grand Marnier casks. It appears that this is the first release of a new series of finished whiskeys from Willett.
Grand Marnier is made by macerating bitter orange peel, distilling it and then aging it for two years in bourbon casks. After that, it is combined with Cognac and sweetened. The rye in this Willett is aged in the bourbon casks that were used to age the orange distillate before sweetening, so it's not as if the casks has Grand Marnier in them.
Willett XCF, Version 1.0, 7 yo, 51.7% abv ($150)
The orange spice notes hit you right away on the nose. It's got bitter orange with cloves, like an orange spice tea. The palate is more traditional MGP rye profile with aggressive spice, then some orange comes in, though it's not as strong as on the nose. The finish is typical MGP rye.
This is a really creative and interesting way to manipulate the very familiar MGP rye. The rye spice and orange work well together. The flavors are well integrated such that the orange is clearly present but not dominant.
It's too bad the price is so high on this or it would be an easy recommendation. I know times have changed, but I still feel like if I shell out three figures for a whiskey, it should blow me away. That being said, this is a good whiskey that gets points for being unique.
Willett XCF is currently only available at the Willett gift shop, but it appears that it will see wider release later this fall.