With the recent upsurge in bourbon consumption and appreciation, I thought it was a good idea to not just rank them individually without any background, or basis. With that, it sounded like a good idea to do a bottle-share of the basics from a certain distillery.
By doing so, we eliminate some variables like distillery equipment and geographical location. We let things boil down to the main variable being the grain mixture, or mash bill, as it is known stateside.
Of course, the Double Oak is the normal bourbon, but finished in a new American oak cask after initial maturation in the same. A bit of an extra kick of wood influence to the normal recipe. Sounds like the bourbon version of Quarter Cask things like Laphroaig does.
Why Woodford Reserve then?
Getting some basics in should not cost the world and these are quite affordable for European standards. Compared to what they cost in the USA, I don’t think we should give that too much thought.
Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Batch 0723, 43.2%
The nose is quite heavy with a good amount of oak and lots of vanilla. Slightly nutty, with sawdust and baked cherries.
The palate is initially rather light compared to the nose, but gets more woody right after. Dry ground corn, grains, and Brazil nuts.
A rather long finish with a slightly drying effect. Oak, corn and some tobacco.
A very solid entry level bourbon. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s more a drinker than a sipper. A tad simple, so to say.
Woodford Reserve Straight Wheat Whiskey, Batch 0001, 45.2%
Compared to the bourbon this is a lot more dry, a lot more floral and more light. Some caramel and slightly nutty. Straw and dried flowers.
The palate is dry and a bit sharper. I think that’s more the grains used than the 2% difference in the ABV. Love hearts, oak and grains.
The finish somewhat more gentle than the palate, but the dryness lingers, as do the hints of flowers, grass and straw.
I still really like this whiskey. For a more elaborate review, check here.
Woodford Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey, Batch 0023, 45.2%
It starts off minty with hints of oranges. While this sounds like orange juice and toothpaste, it’s actually quite lovely. Hints of spices, grain and dark chocolate. Not a lot of oak. It reminds me of After Eight chocolates.
The palate is rather peppery, chili peppers, mostly. Oak, mint and chocolate with hints of orange.
The finish is slightly dryer than the palate and rather long. Chocolate covered orange jelly, and after eight.
Lots of the good kind of candy in this one. A very tasty rye, especially for such an affordable one. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying this one over the holidays. It seems right.
Woodford Reserve Double Oak, Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished in a second Oak Barrel, 43.2%
Very smooth with lots of oak. Sweet with dark cherries, some grain, black pepper and vanilla.
Black pepper again, with lots of oak. Dry, sweet vanilla and dark cherries.
The finish is rich and long, with mostly oak and pepper.
Strangely, this is a rather more simple whiskey than any of the others. However, the aromas and flavors are very intense and that makes this is a really solid dram. Of the four I enjoyed this one the most, just because it’s slightly clunky and a bit too straight forward.
I emptied the bottle yesterday, but I know 100% sure there will be another one.
I’ll try and follow this up with a more special Woodford Reserve soon, I got a bottle of one of the Master’s Collection, which is ripe for reviewing.
Anyway, I really enjoyed doing this flight of whiskeys from a single distillery. It’s nice to do a vertical and find out where an adjustment of just one or two variables takes a whiskey. All of them are lovely, with the standard bourbon being the simplest, obviously. The wheat, rye and double oak are thoroughly enjoyable and especially when compared, they are very interesting.