I made a call. My old friend answered his cell phone, saying, “Oh, you…very bad man!” Yeah, I am half Asian. Funny. I said Hi and I have a problem. I am going on a trip. I am standing in a big box liquor store. I need to buy some Kentucky bourbon. What do you guys drink up there in BlueGrassia? He said without hesitation, “Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve.”
He added, “But you have to like vanilla.” My friend explained that, to him, Woodford Reserve has an assertive vanilla flavor. Intrigued, I purchased a bottle–along with an entire box full of other liquors. Hey, it was a long trip.
Woodford Reserve is made at the vintage distillery near Versailles, Kentucky which once housed the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, then Labrot & Graham. The Brown-Forman Corporation had owned the property since 1941, but distilling ceased between 1971 and 1993 and the land was sold for farming. Repurchased and renovated by Brown-Forman in 1995, the old distillery began making Woodford Reserve in 1996. The distillery is in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is a small batch Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that I think is best had neat. The dark amber color hints at its complexity and richness. I agree with my friend about the vanilla notes, but I do not find them unwelcome or overpowering. To me, they give Woodford Reserve its distinctive flavor. On to the tumbler!
Nose–Big fruitiness, cherry, chocolate, vanilla.
Palate–Smoky, oaky, orangey, with more vanilla overtones. Comes on strong, with a slight alcohol bite, then smoothes out quickly.
Finish–Warm and pleasant.
Woodford Reserve says the limestone aquifer in the north central Kentucky region yields a filtered, calcified water that makes for better bourbon. The white oak barrels built for their bourbon have a sugar content that, coupled with the firing process, adds the vanilla and caramel favors to the spirit.
You can find Woodford Reserve for between $30 and $40 per 750 mL’s. At 90.4 proof, even a few sips will bring you that glowing feeling a fine drink should. I enjoy this bourbon immensely and have purchased many a bottle over the years!