Today, I am reviewing one of the most popular craft bourbons on the market, Woodford Reserve. It is a 94 proof whiskey from the Labrot & Graham Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and a favorite of many. Like several bourbons I’ve reviewed recently (Basil Hayden’s, Wild Turkey 101, and Fighting Cock), Woodford Reserve uses a higher percentage of rye in the mash bill. However, the rye is very well balanced, making up about 18% of the recipe. This gives the bourbon the light flavors of a rye whiskey, without the intensity of the rye spices found in bourbons like Turkey 101.
On the nose, Woodford Reserve is rich with the flavors of a candy shop in the Old West. There are pronounced flavors of butterscotch and toffee, with some balancing rye spice and cinnamon. There is also some fruity sweetness (caramel-dipped apples) that shows up. The palate follows up the nose well with rich butterscotch, some toffee and caramel, and some vanilla. Woodford Reserve has a silky, buttery feel to it on the palate, letting the flavors roam freely about the mouth. This whiskey finishes with great balance. The butterscotch sweetness does not leave, but it is backed up by the zest that one would expect from a bourbon with a higher rye content. The heat from the rye spice and the smooth sweetness of the butterscotch are in perfect balance in the finish.
From start to finish, Woodford Reserve is a fantastic bourbon. It is not always in my price range, but that does not mean it isn’t a good value buy. My grade: B. Price: $30-35/750ml. This is a damn good everyday whiskey, but it falls short of my special occasion pour (but that doesn’t mean it can’t be drank on special occasions).