Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey

Maker: Woodford Reserve/Brown Forman, Versailles/Louisville, Kentucky, USA (Brown-Forman).

Style: “Barely legal” (~51% malt) American malt whiskey.

Age: NAS (at least 4 y/o)

Proof: 90.4 (45.2% ABV)

Appearance: Medium copper.

Nose: Alcohol, sweet malt, caramel, leather.

Palate: Rounded and full bodied. Vanilla, orange sherbet, but without the sweetness and oak.

Finish: Semi-sweet, creamy.

Parting words: For years, Woodford Reserve has produced its Master’s Collection, an annual release of an off-beat experiemental whiskey. It was a popular bunching bag in the old days for its failed experiments (eg Sonoma Cutrer finish) and high price ($90 was laughable at the time).

Some of those experiments ended up eventually turning into regular offerings, though, and this malt whiskey is one of them. The WRMC ryes (which also gave birth to a regular expression), were packaged as a two pack of 375 ml bottles, one aged in new cooperage and one aged in used. The malts were annoyingly released as two seperate 750 ml bottles, which is why I never bought them or tried them and they kinda made me mad.

Despite all that baggage, I’m glad this experiment made it to prime time. This is a straight malt whiskey. That is, it is to malt what rye whiskey is to rye or bourbon is to corn. The recipe contains at least 51% malt and was aged in new charred oak for at least four years.

I give a lot of credit to Brown-Forman for releasing an American style malt instead of trying to ape Single Malt Scotch. I don’t see the point in US producers of any size trying to out-Scotch Scotch while the American straight malt whiskey category exists and has been moribund for so long. If this whiskey is any indication, there’s lots of potentional in the category.

$38 is a long way from $90 and a very fair price for this kind of quality. I like this whiskey a lot. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt is recommended.

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