Review: Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Virgin Charred Oak
~72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Woodford Reserve (Versailles, Kentucky)

If you ever visit Kentucky, the most beautiful distillery (in my opinion) is Woodford Reserve. Found amidst cattle area where you can see some Kentucky thoroughbreds,the distillery boasts big stone barrel aging houses, which are cool due to the insulation from the thick walls. The company also has its own cooperage enabling them to be involved in the crafting of the whisky on the wood side as well. But, the biggest difference comes directly in distillation – they use pot stills (originally imported from Scotland) rather than the column stills used in the other Kentucky distilleries. As the distillery was founded by a Scotsman, it follows that they use the traditional Scottish pot still distillation. They have three pot stills, and their spirit is triple distilled.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: 10

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Dried corn, vanilla, maraschino cherries, grapefruit, light honey, with a wonderful slight oaky earthiness. This element reminds me some of compost, not a bad smell – but the sweet earthiness of decomposing vegetation. It also has some notes of new leather, even the slightly chemical nature of that. The way the oak is integrated, with the grains, earthiness, and almost floral sweet honey – very engaging.

Taste: Honey and oak lead the start, with some fruitiness – there’s kick of gingery rye on the back along with some light oily sweetness- quite nice. Sweetness builds gradually until the end, when the oak comes right in and develops through to the finish. It is, I find, a touch sour and there’s a bit of an off-key bitter edge to this.

Finish: It develops nicely for some time before starting to fade. There’s some oak, apricot, cherry, banana, leading to some nectar-laden honey with a slightly drying tannic effect – though there’s lots of fruitiness, the finish isn’t that light – it’s a bit dense. However, the feel is quite nice – dense, and slightly concentrated, and eventually seems to “cleanse” itself as the flavour slowly unpacks and your mouth feels refreshed. The flavour does, however, dissipate a bit too quickly in my opinion.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $49.