In the world of bourbon, many people who've been involved in some higher end whiskey knows of Willett Distillery due to their gift shop releases of Willett Family Estate Bourbon and Willett Family Estate Rye, both of which are sourced from another distillery, nonetheless, have the Willett name attached them.
Willett is less known for a couple of their other offerings due to not directly stating Willett Distillery on the bottle. One of those offerings is Rowan's Creek, which is labeled, "Rowan's Creek Distillery". This bourbon was originally sourced from another distillery as well, but over the last couple of years Willett has been able to use their own distate for this offering.
Aroma: The initial notes right out of the glencairn upon just pouring is heavy on alcohol. With about 5 minutes of sitting, it quickly lightens up and some pleasant changes begin to come through. You're welcomed with notes of rich, ripe fruits, especially peach and apple. If you dig deeper, light notes of oak become apparent, nothing overpowering but a delightful mix nonetheless. Not much complexity past this point, I hoped for a little more, but it just wasn't in the books.
Taste: I had hopes that the taste would make up for the disappoint from the smell, but sadly, Rowan's Creek had other plans. Once the bourbon hits your tongue, you're instantly hit with some harsh, youthful notes. You quickly come to learn by the taste, that there is a reason there is no age statement on this bourbon - it's definitely young. Once the harsh notes fade away from the palate, some spice begins to hit the tongue. This spice is a nice little surprise compared to the harsh notes that first hit. From there, some wood, oak-like, burnt sugar and caramel hit the palate. Unfortunately these aren't as prevalent on each sip.
Finish: The second half of the palate is enjoyable, which slightly makes up for the harsh notes unfortunately, the finish has little to be desired, unless you really don't like a heavy mouth feel or any burn on the finish. If you enjoy a mild, lacking of complexity, then yes, this bourbon is exactly what you are looking for. While I enjoy the mentioned aspects above, it does have a couple nice notes of caramel, mint, and some baking spice on the tail end of the finish. It's not a terrible finish, just lacking.
Overall: This would be a great bourbon selection for people who enjoy some water or ice with their bourbon. I feel as though either would do a great job to cut back on the harsh notes on the palate. Leaving this bourbon to be a decent everyday sipper. You're not going to get anything fancy out of this, but a decent pour nonetheless.
For the price, I feel there are substantially better options for a lot less money. I'd honestly back burner this selection. It's worth a taste, as the burnt sugar, caramel and oak profile on the palate are definitely enjoyable, just not sure I would ever go for a second bottle unless there are substantial changes. With Willett just getting going and lots of their barrels still being very young, I'm optimistic that'll changes will be made for the better for their everyday offerings.