Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve brand was born in the year 1996 with its flagship product, the “Distillers Select.” Woodford Reserve by its very nature is a “blend”* – while the bourbon is produced from a single mash bill (72% Corn, 18% Rye and 10% Malted Barley), the company takes pot still whiskey distilled at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky, and blends it with column still whiskey distilled at the Brown-Forman distillery in Shively, Kentucky. It is bottled without an age statement, and at 90.4 proof.
[*A “Blended Whiskey” is a defined product in the United States. It typically refers to a whiskey that is blended with neutral grain spirts and even color and flavorings. Woodford Reserve is a “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” under U.S. regulation, not a “Blended Whiskey.” Instead, it is merely “blended” as a small batch whiskey using whiskeys sourced from two distinct locations.]
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked was first introduced in 2012. The company first produces the “blended” Distillers Select and then re-barrels the bourbon in a new heavily toasted by only lightly charred barrel. It then ages for an additional 9 months.
Because of the “blending” that is required to make Woodford Reserve, a single barrel would not necessarily hold true to the brand profile. With the Double Oaked, however, Woodford is able to release to consumers a “barrel select” product. The barrel picked is not the original maturation barrel (or barrels), but instead the product of a single finishing barrel.
This past May, Flight Club members Scott Hill, Marcelo Moreira and Brian Carman sat down once again with Tom, James and Keaton of Tom’s Wine & Spirits, and selected a “barrel select” of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.
Three samples were provided, each at varying proofs. We started with a pour each the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, followed by a pour of a standard bottle of Double Oaked. We then went in for the barrel select samples, took notes and discussed.
Sample #1: 47.9%
Nose: Malty; musty; floral stem; plantains; cornbread; terra cotta.
Palate: Charred oak; earthy; caramel syrup; jalapeño cornbread.
Finish: Dry oak; pepper pith; white pepper; tootsie roll.
Overall: This wasn’t what we were expecting, nor were we satisfied. It was certainly different. The toast and char provided an interesting heat – almost like the veins fo a fresh jalapeño. This was fun to sample, but not something we thought would interest a typical consumer.
Sample #2: 48.0%
Nose: Heavy burn; milk chocolate; malt balls; minerality; clove; toffee; char; toasted oak.
Palate: Rich toasted oak; creamy; caramel latte; herbal; floral; earthy. Bright.
Finish: Caramel latte; cappuccino foam; heavy coffee and milk; chocolate.
Overall: This pour was fun. There was an abundance of chocolate and coffee notes throughout. But not just any coffee. This was a milky, frothy, caramel latte. I’d like to have a pour of this on a Saturday morning. This would certainly be a contender.
Sample #3: 48.0%
Nose: Cinnamon graham cracker; fruit; apple strudel; toasted oak.
Palate: Cinnamon raisin scone; caramel syrup; herbal spice; caramel; hard candy grape.
Finish: Metallic; caramel; butter crackers; raisin box; apple skins.
Overall: This sample would be hard to beat. It was much more complete and rounded than either previous sample or any of the standard bottled products. The cinnamon graham cracker paired very well with the fruitiness of the nose. The nose transitioned well into the palate with the baked goods notes. The palate then brought new sweetness and herbal spice. And then the finish brought a delicious deep caramel and raisin note that can only be described as metallic. The apple returns and lingers on a fairly long finish.
It likely comes as no surprise, but Sample #3 was the overwhelming favorite. Even revisiting the pours and adding a splash of water to each to come closer to the bottling proof, the richness and unique character of Sample #3 shined.
We are excited to bring this private select offering to Wichita. Grab one at Tom’s for $54.99. We think you will enjoy.
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.