Thursday, November 12, 2009

Woodford Reserve Seasoned Oak Finish

The Woodford Reserve's, Masters Collection bottling demonstrates ‘one-of-a-kind’ bourbon from a ‘very-limited’ production, created to reveal a single- unique and intrinsically ‘experimental’ aspect as an evolution on the normally excellent Woodford Reserve.

‘Seasoned Oak Finish’ is the fourth release in the series of limited-edition Masters Collection line and it is easily [one of] the best. The whiskey has been finished in barrels made from wood that has been seasoned 12 times longer than average and it shows marvelously. The wood spice is deeply evidenced on every aspect of the whiskey; the nose each nuance is balance and interwoven— Oolong tea, toffee, brown bread, caramel and roasted nuts with miner dried fruit in the background. The flavors on the palate are more categorized, richer flavors lead with treacle, quince, black cherry, caramel and dried plum, only to be followed by dryer tones of mahogany, tea, leather, cocoa, tobacco and a plethora of intricate spices (cinnamon, clove, caraway) that escalate as they articulate to a saporous dawdling finish that leaves you smacking your lips for more.

To explain what the whole ‘Seasoned Oak Finish’ is: typically the oak for whiskey barrels are ‘seasoned’ for only three to five months— the staves and head pieces are allowed to dry naturally (to get rid of excess moisture and excessive tannin). As an experiment the cooper’s for Woodford Reserve aged a batch of staves and head pieces for at least 3 years, and as long as 5 years (getting rid of even more of the moisture and tannins—allowing more subtle and delicate wood tones to shine through), to then make barrels from it, and instead of charring them (the normal practice for Bourbon) they just toasted them (to draw the ‘subtle’ characteristics to the surface).
Then they took mature Woodford Reserve bourbon, aged the normal seven or eight years, and put it in these special barrels for an additional 8 months. The resulting whiskey is by far the most exceptional offering yet from the Masters Collection.
The resulting effect on the whiskey demonstrates ‘wood’ influences well beyond the age; definitely what i'd call a successful experiment.