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Newest Bourbon Review: Pure Kentucky XO Single Barrel Bourbon

November 25, 2011

Pure Kentucky XO Single Barrel Bourbon

The Willett family distillery produces some of the finest bourbons period. Pure Kentucky is certainly one of them. This is a Straight 107 Proof, Single barrel, Small batch, 12 year old bourbon that comes from the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon country.  This is a single barrel yet, it is made in very small batches and only a few select barrels are chosen to become “Pure Kentucky”. The distillery is currently under reconstruction and will be reopening for public tours once completed. The distillery is nestled in a small pocket of forest just outside of downtown Bradstown, KY. Many of the Willett family of bourbons are highly acclaimed and hold many awards. Some other bourbons that in the family are Vintage Bourbon (17 year Single Barrel), Kentucky Vintage (Small Batch), Willett Single Barrel, Noah’s Mill (15 year Single Barrel) and many more.

To the bourbon:

107 Proof Single Barrel

Age: 12 years

Bottle Statements:

Small Batch Boutique Bourbon

Original- Small Batch bourbon; handmade in Kentucky

Aged in new charred oak barrels; hand bottled in Kentucky

Batch QBC No. 11-138

First notes:

The presentation is quite nice. A bronze wax stamp is on the breast of the bottle which reads” Small Batch XO Bourbon”. The topper is a screw cap but, is masked by the blue wax atop the head.


The color has a dark molasses hue to it with a hint of blood orange.

First nose:

The first nose right out of the bottle is of light char and sweet bourbon corn.

Nose in a glass:

The nose shows off the proof of the bourbon but, there are hints of burnt sugar, very light mint and vanilla and light spice.


Caramel Corn, char, rye are first while dark coco, ripe bananas, cinnamon and hint of heavy cream round this off. This is a simply amazing 107 proof bourbon. It should be enjoyed neat but, a very small amount of spring water or a single ice cube will work well. This bourbon does have a hint of rye spice which responds well to a very small amount water. It opens up the nose and flavor profile.

The palate intensity is nearly zero considering it is a 107 proof but, has a nice bell curve of flavor and palate presence. There is a small amount of cinnamon at first which latches onto the roof of your mouth but, then subsides quickly. Lingering rye and corn stays on the roof of your mouth and top of your throat for much longer than anticipated. Very, very yummy.


Again, another bourbon that is Very, Very smooth from front to back. But, has enough flavors to last. This is a completely well round single barrel. It is very hard to achieve such complexity while being a well-rounded bourbon only out of one barrel. Many bourbons need to be mingled with other barrels in order to achieve what this single barrel has to offer. This is just another shining example of a Willett Family Bourbon that has touched my heart and I will never let it go. Seriously, this is a great bourbon and it should be enjoyed by all. Pick up a bottle the next time you see it. You will not be let down.

Outsider review:

Pure Kentucky Single Barrel Bourbon XO is a Small Batch Bourbon made up of 12 year or older Bourbons. With a nose that is lightly sweet with hints of butterscotch and caramel, the palate delivers rich notes of sweet corn, citrus and vanilla with a touch of spice. Enjoy this straight up or with a touch of water for a full expression of flavor.

There will be a new review about every week. Stay tuned in for future reviews. Please write if you have a specific bourbon you would like a review on next!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. matt permalink
    February 21, 2012 10:00 pm

    Just cracked my first bottle after having a dram at my local cigar bar and man this is good stuff. You nailed the profile of this bourbon straight on in your review. Offers up all the quality and flavors I love in Willett products but just a bit deeper IMHO. I really enjoy the Willet Pot Still but feel this one has much deeper flavors and has a bigger Rye profile in the finish. $30 here in CT and well worth.

  2. matt permalink
    March 18, 2012 1:00 am

    Hey matt its matt again, just sitting here again with some pure kentucky XO with a splash of spring water and man this stuff is great. Caramel, vanilla and char. insanely good.

    talk again real soon!

  3. matt permalink
    March 18, 2012 1:01 am

    Am I the only guy reading this review compelled to comment……………………yep.

    • March 18, 2012 12:43 pm


      Thanks so much for reading and replying to Pure Kentucky (PK) XO. It is a very nice bourbon expression. Kentucky Bourbon Distillers is one of my favorite distillers/bottlers and I can see that they may become one of yours as well.

      Might I suggest, Kentucky Vintage, as well? This is an expression that I have not yet reviewed but, I have had quite a bit of. It seems to be a part of the same or similar Mash Bill of PK (or at least some of it is). Yet, it is an all-around nice Small Batch that is, in general, a bit nimbler in palate presence, intensity and flavor. It is slightly lighter on the pocket book as well. This expression can be best enjoyed chilled, straight from the freezer, or neat.

      Again, thank you for having an interest in what we do hear at SHW. Let us know if there is something special that you would like us to review. We enjoy your comments and look forward to hearing from you in the future.

  4. matt permalink
    March 22, 2012 12:48 am

    hey thanks for the reply. I have seen the Kentucky vintage but wasn’t sure how it would be. I will definitely grab a bottle, if it is anything like PK it has to be good.

    I was first aware of this distiller when I started drinking Willet pot still and loved it. I do see some similarities between the willet and PK. I think PK has a deeper more mature flavor profile.

    keep up the good work.

  5. January 25, 2014 2:37 am

    I got a bottle for Christmas from my son and wasn’t sure what it was.
    Great flavor and presence
    When I learned it was from Willett I was not surprised since I love the 4 & 5 year old Rye they sell. Drew and Evan Kulsveen and Hunter Chavanne seem to have a nose for great whisky.

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