I always considered myself a highland malt man, with a preconceived idea that bourbon was for Americans who didn't understand whisky...I'm happy, very happy to be wrong.
I used to have a very negative attitude towards bourbon, one that I could never really justify. Then some 8 years ago I purchased a bottle as a house warming gift for a friend. The fact I achieved a state of total inebriation on it and the subsequent traumatic hangover, all lead to me having a ban on it in my household. This, however, was no real justification for never trialling it again. With some outstanding and award winning liquors being produced in the U.S of A, we thought we should give Woodford Reserve a chance at breaking our No-Bourbon embargo.
All bourbons are created from just six sources of flavour. What makes Woodford Reserve different is the way that Master Distiller "Chris Morris" choses to expresses each of those flavours. It is rumoured that Woodford is crafted with more than 70 different flavour variables to make the most of these few flavour options.
The first thing that I notice is how refined Woodford is on the nose. You might even say it's lazy to give up a scent. Taking some time to give itself up, but when it does you know you have a delicate whiskey in hand. The expected oak and rye are forefront, along with fruit; green apples, pears, and a softness of banana. The sugar and spice bring up the rear; caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Woodford Reserve features a high percentage of rye: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt. This is evident from the first sip, when the fruit nose and spice intermingle in a warming whiskey. As it warms on the palate, there's mixed fruit. One you could describe as almost jam-like and the cinnamon and spice that is picked up on the nose.
Woodford is a 90 proof whiskey. With little burn registering on the first sip. This could be due to Woodford Reserve's process as it is triple distilled and has the lowest proof upon entering the barrel where it matures for at least six years.
The finish is the only downside to Woodford Reserve. I had high hopes of a finish that lasted and reached a far more pleasant note. That’s what separates good whisky from great whiskies. The combination of low proof and triple distilled and aged mellow leaves the finish light and mildly metallic.
Woodford Reserve is a solid and truly pleasing whiskey to enjoy and drink. It has earned it's place as the go-to bourbon for many bars and barmen. I feel it is more of an "ingredient whiskey", one to make premium cocktails rather than one to enjoy as a standalone tipple. I am pleased to say that it is the first bourbon I have enjoyed in many years and has re-awakened my interest in other bourbons. A lovely drink is all that needs to be said.