hemingway

This is a picture of Ernest Hemingway because everybody already knows what a Woodford bottle looks like, and Guy Clark’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey” is one of the best songs ever written on the subject of God’s chosen elixir.

Woodford Reserve is certainly one of the most recognizable bourbon brands on the market today.  However, their premium line of limited edition whiskeys (the “Masters Collection”) has not gained the notoriety or acclaim as other limited releases like Buffalo Trace’s “Antique Collection” or Heaven Hill’s “Parker’s Heritage Collection.”  So much so, that among even some avid bourbon drinkers, people are unaware that Woodford Reserve comes in any other forms than the unmistakable Woodford flat bottle.  I’ll try and remedy that here with some thoughts on Woodford Reserve’s recently released rye whiskey (although their “Masters Collection” whiskeys are worth checking out, too).

Woodford Reserve Rye is a refreshing find in and amongst the dearth of Indiana and Canada ryes that roam the liquor store shelves disguised in all manners of bottling.  Woodford Reserve rye is comprised of whiskey made at both their locations in Kentucky, Versailles and Louisville.   The mash bill is made of 53% rye, a relatively low amount of rye given the amount of 95% and 100% rye whiskeys hanging out in the whiskey aisle nowadays.  There is no age statement here, but my guess is we’re working with something around 4-6 years.  The particular batch I am reviewing today is Batch 021, and it is bottle at 90.4 proof (45.2% abv).

The nose is classic rye, with cinnamon, clove, cedar, and oak.  There is also some caramel sweetness present, as well as some blackberries.  The palate is a little thin, with some sweet caramel, cinnamon sugar, and black cherry.  The finish offers a rescuing crescendo, though, with oak and rye spice, cinnamon, caramel, and mulled apple cider.  The finish is medium-long, and is very drying.

If you’re a fan of rye whiskey, you’ll enjoy this one.  It works well in cocktails and stands beautifully on its own, too.  This is a genuine Kentucky rye whiskey with all the flavors you would expect in good balance, but it still brings that drying finish I’ve come to expect from Woodford Reserve bourbon.  To boot, it is reasonably priced for all occasions.  Well done, Woodford Reserve.  My grade: B+.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  Next time you’re in the mood for some Woodford, give rye a try.

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