Willett Bitter Truth Straight Rye Whiskey 24yr

WILLETT BITTER TRUTH STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY 24YR

SPIRIT: Rye

VOLUME: 700 ml

ABV/PROOF: 69/138

AGE:  24 years

Founded in 2006 by Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck, two bartenders from Munich, the Bitter Truth specializes in bespoke cocktail ingredients. Not long after going into business, they reached out to Willett, having heard that the Kentucky distillery was getting into the business of selling single barrels from its legendary stock of bourbon and rye purchased from around the state. 

Even Kulsveen, the Willett patriarch, had been buying surplus barrels from Kentucky distilleries for almost 20 years and using them to feed Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, a bottling operation he ran on the Willett campus in Bardstown. 

At the time, distilleries like Schenley (later United, later Diageo) and Heaven Hill were eager to sell barrels whenever and to whomever they could, with little regard to the age or quality of the liquid inside. As a result, Kulsveen and his son, Drew, were soon in possession of some of the best whiskey ever to be put in wood – and they knew it.

There was little rhyme or reason, at first, to the single-barrel releases. Many came with their own labels, whether they were one-offs, like a rye bottled for the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, or a standing brand, like Black Maple Hill. The Bitter Truth, released in 2009, was the latter. Only about 200 bottles were produced, and they sold at first for about 200 euros (they were initially only available in Germany). Today a single bottle of the Bitter Truth can go for upwards of 100 times that price.

Producer: Willett

Misc.: For an extensive listing of Willett bottlings and their details, click here.

Collectors’ tips: Early Willett Family Estate bottlings were sealed with wax tops; more contemporary bottlings use foil. 

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