We’ve covered most of Willett’s expansive whiskey portfolio, but somehow, we missed this bottle, Johnny Drum Private Stock Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon. Willett is slowly replacing many of its sourced brands with its own stock (see the new Old Bardstown and Willett Family Estate lines), but Johnny Drum remains a sourced product made at an unknown distillery. Once upon a time, when old whiskey stocks were easy to come by, it carried a whopping 15-year age statement, but the bottles you are likely to find today are not age-stated. Let’s see how this recent bottling fares.
The nose is punchy with alcohol and a bright, waxy citrus-tinged sweetness. Aromas of orange rock candy eventually turn more Granny Smith apple and give way to creamy caramel and butterscotch as it opens in the glass. The palate is soft but not light-bodied. A nice balance of candied orange peel, vanilla bean, and dry, almost dusty, oak is interspersed with a variety of spice cabinet notes and bit of cigar wrapper. Despite the initial assertiveness of the alcohol, there’s a steady, even heat all the way into the medium finish, fading with more candy sweetness and a bit of buttery caramel. Classic stuff.