Finding a Holy Grail of bourbons in Nevada

Rule of thumb: If you see this on a shelf, BUY IT.

I fell in love with Kentucky Bourbon Distillers last year during a tasting at the Freakin’ Frog. I sampled not one but seven of their products: Kentucky Vintage, Willett Pot Still Reserve, Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, Johnny Drum, Pure Kentucky and Willett Family Estate American Rye Whiskey. Each was distinctive and immensely enjoyable. What made this tasting even more exciting was the news that KBD would be selling its products in Nevada. Since then, I have been scouring the shelves of Lee’s, Total Wine and Khoury’s, looking to revisit these amazing spirits.

I’m pleased to say I have now tried them all again—indeed, many now have permanent spots in my collection. However, as I became more obsessed with bourbon and began researching KBD online, I learned one of their products I had not tried at the Freakin’ Frog tasting: Willett Single Barrel Bourbon.

So the search was on. And 10 months later, I am proud to say I finally located a bottle at Khoury’s—in this case, Willett’s 11-year old bourbon. There are many other iterations of this spirit, from 5 to 21 years, and all have been receiving high marks from connoisseurs across the blogosphere.

This is some seriously wonderful whiskey, folks. It clocks in at a whopping 121.8 proof, and has a delicious-looking dark amber hue. Its nose has so many flavors going on it took me a few minutes to really process them all—fruits, nuts, leather, cinnamon and a touch of wood. I’ve tried a few whiskeys that clock in around this ABV—the best among them Knob Creek 9-year single barrel and, of course, Booker’s—and Willett joins that group with style. It’s not as easy to drink as Knob Creek’s masterpiece, and much easier to drink than the brutal Booker’s, but it has a realm of flavors that easily distinguish it. Chocolate, caramel … it’s like drinking dessert.

How good was this bad boy? I went back and purchased a second bottle, and yeah, my wallet took a huge hit this month (one bottle was $79!), but I don’t want to run the risk of another long Willett bourbon drought in Nevada.

Khoury’s still has a few bottles left, so stop reading this and go grab one. You won't be sorry you did.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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