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Wolves Whiskey Collaborates With Willett On The Rye Project, Volume One Whiskey

Bold flavors are said to feature prominently in the new Volume One of The Rye Project, a limited-edition whiskey delivered in collaboration by California-based Wolves Whiskey and Kentucky-rooted Willett Distillery.

The new expression is set to release online on Dec. 6th, and in other select markets.

“The Rye Project” is anchored by a low-content (51%) rye whiskey distilled in Indiana, aged in new American oak for 6 years, then transplanted to Sonoma County, California for additional aging.

Volume One, Batch One, of the Rye Project by Wolves.
Volume One, Batch One, of the Rye Project by Wolves (image via Wolves Whiskey)

This whiskey was blended with additional rye barrels selected from the the Willett Distillery. The majority of the resulting blend is Willett’s 6 and 7 year rye whiskey.

Wolves Master Distiller Marko Karakasevic and Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen selected 6 and 7 year old barrels of Willett straight rye whiskey with a 74% rye mash bill. The barrels were pulled from Willett’s Warehouse A, South Rick 14, and Warehouse H, South Rick 6.

“We want to deliver straightforward and balanced expressions of the best rye in the world, in a lower-rye format,” said Jon Buscemi, Wolves co-founder, in a prepared statement. “We started from a place of sweet more than spice, and built from there.”

It’s the depth and complexity of this rye whiskey that’s unique and consistent with the quality ryes produced by the Willett house, Buscemi said. “We liked what was happening at 103 proof and bottled Batch One there. We were very fortunate to partner with Drew for our first run of rye.”

Kulsveen said this collaboration whiskey developed out of a friendship. “I met the Wolves guys at a bourbon and cigar event in Bardstown a few years ago and our relationship grew from there. The project was born out of the good times we’ve had together and will certainly fuel future celebrations. The Wolves team pays attention to every detail … down to the cork.”

That custom cork top was inspired by the knob of a baseball bat that is a family heirloom of Buscemi. The textured label was created in partnership with a bespoke wine label producer in Sonoma County.

“We wanted to deliver a rye on the low-rye side of the spectrum, and we didn’t want to alter the spirit with a barrel finish. Find the best barrels, balance the blend,” added Wolves CEO Jeremy Joseph.  “When you’re working on a blend with Drew and Marko, your job is largely to get out of the way and let them do their thing. These are two of the best in the game, and this product represents that.”

The Rye Project, Volume One, Batch One is limited to 623 9-liter cases and is set to release in November and December in CA, NY, TX, IL, CO, NJ, FL, CT, NV, AZ, MN, MD, and DC. The second and final batch will be released at barrel strength in the spring.

You can sign up for allocation at to have the first direct chance at the release on Dec. 6th. The bottles come with a suggested retail price of $219.

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Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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