It is no secret that the whiskey in this Willett Family Estate (WFE) Bourbon bottle is not actually made by Willett (or Kentucky Bourbon Distillers – KBD – if you want to get technical). Willett’s operating distillery is about 5 years old and counting (having shut down distilling operations from the early 1980’s until 2012), and a 5 year old distillery obviously can’t produce 12 year old whiskey.
But, Willett hasn’t ever hidden from this fact, and has in recent years turned out some of the objectively best Non-Distillery Produced (NDP) bourbon around. It has done so while holding tight its secret as to who makes the whiskey in these bottles – although we would be remiss if we didn’t share that most suspect across-the-street neighbor Heaven Hill is the source for much of Willett’s products.
We have now reviewed each Buffalo Trace mash bill #1 brand(with the exception of some limited release bottles in the Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. lineup — Old Fashioned Sour Mash, Seasoned Wood, Cured Oak, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving — samples will be accepted).
I.W. Harper is one of the growing number of once loved, then forgotten, then resurrected products of the past. However, unlike many other bourbon brands, there is a linear connection between that past and present.