Woodford Reserve is an American Kentucky Straight Bourbon; that is distilled and bottled in Woodford County, KY by Brown-Forman Corporation; however they market it under the company’s former name Labrot & Graham. It is a small batch bourbon hand written barrel and bottle number on the label. Although there is no age statement given, by law it has been aged at least 4 years and is 90.4 proof or 45.2% ABV. Distilling on the site began in 1797 and the distillery building itself was erected in 1838, making it the oldest of the nine bourbon distilleries in current operation in Kentucky as of 2010 – although the site has not been continuously operational as a distillery during that history. In 1995 the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2000 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Color: A very deep solid color of amber/raw tree sap.
Nose: An absolutely gorgeous nose on this. I picked up virtually no alcohol on the nose, just tons of vanilla and orange peel with light hints of charcoal and airy caramel.
Body: Not as heavy as it appears in your glass. Medium/light at most, like a sugar free syrup of sorts.
Palate: The exact opposite of what the name would suggest; which would upset me if it wasn’t so damn good. With the name of the bourbon, one would expect something with flavors of oak and dry tobacco and leather. Instead its everything that you get on the nose; upfront is the citrusy, yet slightly bitter flavor you get from orange peel; balanced with very light floral notes. I’m not going to try and dissect what kinds of flowers, but it’s like the light sweetness you get from orchids and lilies.
Finish: Shortly after the initial flavors come through on the palate it transitions and evolves into warm undertones of that airy caramel and leather that fades into a dry oaky and peppery/tobacco taste you were expecting.
This one of the few types of bourbon that you hear about; and actually lives up to the hype. I first had this a couple years back at Ted’s Montana Grill enjoying a delicious bison pot roast. It was served with a small bottle of Coke; but after taking that first sip of it, I instantly became guilty just having the Coke next to it. Of course I wasn’t as into whiskey then, as I am today (take that back, I was more into Irish whiskey then). So imagine the grin that came across a my face a few days ago when I was on a riverboat cruise going down the Mississippi River and saw this behind the bar. While sitting on the top deck of the boat, listening to the sound of the back paddle cutting through the murky river, almost seeing the world as it looked over 100 years ago; I am immediately reminded of why this spirit has always stuck with me, and why it will forever remain in my whiskey rotation form this day forward.