Update 9/7/2015: I’ve revisited this review. Click here for an updated review for 2015!
Woodford Reserve, made by Brown-Forman in Kentucky, is Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It’s somewhat unlike other bourbons, in that it contains some percentage of whiskey made in copper pot stills and triple-distilled – in the Irish style of whiskeys such as Redbreast. Unlike Redbreast, Woodford Reserve uses a mash of corn, rye, and malted barley, and also re-uses some of each run’s fermented mash in the next batch – a tradition called “sour mashing”. This pot-still whiskey is combined with column-still whiskey and aged in new toasted oak barrels for between four and six years. It is bottled at 90.4 proof (45.2% ABV).
I’m still working my way through a pile of American whiskey samples. I had heard good things about Woodford Reserve, and was looking forward to this miniature. Unfortunately, my sample may have come from an overly sulfur-influenced batch, as I detected an unpleasant “rotting banana” note in the aroma. I intend to seek out another taste of this whiskey, and I will update this post when I do. That said, here are my notes:
Nose: Banana, charcoal, a bit sulfured? Green grass in a compost bin. Water intensifies the “rotting fruit” note.
Palate: Fruity, with a silky mouthfeel and dominant notes of chocolate-covered banana, creamy vanilla pudding, young green oak. Thankfully the sulfur does not intrude. The grain alcohol is milder and more mature than in cheaper bourbons. A few drops of water doesn’t alter the apparent flavors for me.
Finish: Smooth and medium-length. More wood char and oak tannin, fading vanilla bean.
While this is quite a decent sip, there is nothing outstanding about it to recommend it. Mild and smooth, oaky and with that familiar bourbon barrel-char and brown sugar flavors… it still doesn’t inspire me to drink more. I’m also not crazy about the nose – too composty for me. Maybe it’s the sulfur?