Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review #11 - Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select

In 2013 I visited Woodford Reserve during a trip on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Located in Versailles, the distillery campus is situated on a very peaceful and beautiful landscape. The visitor center has a great long porch with rocking chairs on it where guests can relax and just a short hike down the hill allows for an interesting view of barrels rolling down tracks to their final rickhouse destination. There is a long history of various distilleries where Woodford Reserve is now located however the current distillery was only purchased and refurbished by Brown-Forman in 1993 and the Woodford Reserve brand entered the market in 1996. 

One of the unique things about Woodford is that the bourbon is triple distilled in copper pot stills unlike most bourbon which is only double distilled in a column still. Both triple distillation and the use of copper pot stills is very common in Irish Whiskey and this same technique used by Woodford separates it from the rest of the major bourbon brands.


Whiskey Type - Bourbon

Age - Approx. 7 years

Mashbill - 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) - 45.2% (90.4 proof)

Batch Number - 873

Bottle Number - 2479

Brown sugar
Light butterscotch

Burnt walnut
Light oak

With the addition of water
Dark rye bread
Bitter chocolate
Light mint

The finish is short with a thin mouthfeel. Rye drives the short dry finish and a pleasant very light oak remains.

The nose on Woodford Reserve is very sweet and nice with a heavy dominating dose of brown sugar followed by classic vanilla and cola notes. With the addition of water both the nose and palate open up with a noticeable presence of rye aromas and flavor. Woodford Reserve finds a nice balance in the oak profile and I really enjoy the absence of overpowering oak tannins that can be found in many other bourbons. The finish is relatively thin and short and disappears quickly. This is probably due to the triple distillation process. Woodford Reserve could benefit from a slightly higher proof and it would be interesting to taste what a cask strength would offer. Overall I really enjoy Woodford Reserve. It is not as complex as the ultra premium brands but I consider it to be a nice sipper and a bourbon I recommend to people that are interested in getting into bourbon. Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select can be typically purchased in the mid $30 range.

2.5 out of 5

0 - hot dog water - nothing redeeming
1 - one dimensional - not complex and can be flat in areas
2 - entry level whiskey -  a few highlights for a good value
3 - daily sipper - solid, well made product that is always enjoyed.
4 - big whiskey - complex layered flavors - amazing balance
5 - huge, exceptional, unique, one of a kind