Willett Exploratory Cask Finish (XCF) is an experiment by the folks at Willett in which their standard sourced rye whiskey (produced in Indiana by MGP) is aged an additional 90 days in Curacao barrels. This is much in line with many other distillers and producers who have been experimenting lately with sherry and port barrels (Angel’s Envy, Jim Beam) and even wine barrels (Woodford Reserve). 103.4 proof
Appearance: Light amber, trending towards gold.
Aroma: The first and last thing you’ll smell on this is orange and orange bitters. It’s very strong, very sweet. But there are some notes of oak as well. There is an underlying white-dog scent to this that is a bit puzzling.
Flavor: Boom! those sticky-sweet orange essences hit the tongue immediately in a viscous, mouth-coating rush. There is plenty of simple syrup to follow up with that, with some rye spices and caramel flavors pulling up the rear.
Finish: Like the nose, there is a strange undercurrent of white dog in this, as if it just isn’t quite finished aging. That’s weird, as this is a 7-year-old rye before it ever hits the curacao barrel, so it’s certainly not young for a rye whiskey.