Drive several miles from the city of Versailles through the rolling green hills of the Kentucky countryside and you’ll find the oldest currently-operating distillery in Kentucky. Distilling began in the 1780s on the land now occupied by Woodford Reserve. In 1941 the distillery was purchased by Brown-Forman Corporation, the American company that today owns Jack Daniel’s, Chambord, Southern Comfort, and other spirit businesses. Operation ceased in the late 1960s, however, and Brown-Forman sold off the property in 1971. It wasn’t until 1993, when Brown-Forman repurchased the distillery, that the Woodford Reserve brand was created.
Since then the distillery has produced its flagship product, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon. In 2012 it introduced Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon, and this year the brand will introduce Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey. In addition to these permanent products, Woodford has released a Master’s Collection expression each year since 2005.
This review is for the flagship Woodford Reserve bourbon.
Type: American Kentucky Bourbon
Proof: 90.4 proof
Color: Dark gold
Aroma: Vanilla and banana with a hint of honey. Upon opening, charcoal and oak.
Palate: Sweet caramel and spice with a slight hint of banana. The oils leave a thin coating on the tongue.
Andrew: Not only is Woodford Reserve my go-to choice for bourbon-based cocktails, it’s also an excellent sipping whiskey. Though it’s owned by a larger company, Woodford produces a high quality bourbon that does justice to the historic distillery where it’s created.
Michael: There are a handful of whiskies that I failed to appreciate at the inception of this blog that I have since come around to, and Woodford Reserve is certainly one of them. The brand has a strong desire for innovation, but, unlike so many craft distilleries, it does not forget the foundations and traditions of the bourbon industry. It is this crossroads of tradition and innovation that I find so intriguing. Woodford Reserve is the perfect bourbon for early summer afternoons and evening and I look forward to reviewing other products from this distillery in the weeks to come.
Verdict: Saturn, the 7th level of Paradiso.