Ah, Woodford! The wedding-staple shelfer everyone knows and loves. This Brown-Foreman product is a special finishing series selected by Master Distiller Chris Morris. Traditionally the second oak barrel finishing, usually with some extra char involved, is intended to bring out more of those sweet oak vanilla notes. This Versailles, Kentucky release bares no indication of batch size or repeatability, but those that have come to enjoy it know that it is definitely one of their more consistent releases. They also do single barrel selections of double oaked releases. I had the pleasure of helping select one at Liquor Junction not too long ago.
As I enjoy all the offerings I have available to me I want to make sure I take care of some of these staple brands. This is the best opportunity for you - a curious whiskey drinker to taste something along with me without too much worry about cost or availability. So let's do just that if you have a bottle of this! If you don't, I hope this review helps you decide if this is something you think you want to try in the future. This bottle was shared frequently at my table at one of my friend's wedding celebration not too long ago and it was one of the bigger hits of the table alongside Willett Family Estate Rye and Four Roses Small Batch. But that's enough about stories and lore - let's see what's going on in this Woodford bottle!
Company on Label: Woodford Reserve Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Further identification: This is the flagship double oaked release from Woodford Reserve; despite the fill level being as low as it is, this bottle was opened not too long ago and should not have any drastic oxidation effects changing the review here
Nose: Up front there's something impressively savory tied to the oak. I find molasses and marzipan as I pull some of the soft aerosolized aromas out of my glencairn. It feels soft and inviting in the nose with just a small threat of cinnamon spice on the back end of a tart cherry note. There's a dark earthiness that builds in intensity the more you pull off the glass, never quite getting out of the way to allow other flavors to squeak by. After a bit the vanilla frosting begins to take over the glass - vanilla (or its further evolution into marshmallow) being a hallmark of double oak released. There's something candy-sweet about this without coming across as actually being 'sugary' in that sense. It's like sweet borage nectar; one step removed from becoming some delicious honey. Borage produces a similar smell and taste to a salty cucumber. I'm surprised by the level of savory notes coming off this glass to be honest; it's smelling really unique! I think it's time for a sip.
Returning from sipping I find the savory characteristics have settled down and the vanilla-forward oak has made itself comfortable. There are hints of orange peel, angostura bitters and grenadine jumping up in little whack-a-mole surprises. I find charcoal & slightly chalky sweet tart aromas tucked away in the back corners of the glass as I continue to dissect this pour. The empty glass smells of juicy raw green peppers, fresh-sawn lumber, and a well-used grill.
Palate: Woah, there's way more cherry on this than I recall! That sweet maraschino cherry is immediately followed by a wave of marshmallow that is quite enjoyable. The mouth feel is on the thinner side but its also slightly oily so it sticks to all the surfaces of your mouth. Again the cherry pops up first with some subtle side notes of plum and fig. There's a light herbaceous quality that sticks around in the linger but it's more like a subtle garnish than a mainstay flavor. Later in the glass molasses begins to darken the mood. After a few sips the linger begins to shorten and the lower proof doesn't quite have the backbone or gusto to continue to deliver the same nuanced flavor experiences we started with. Overall the glass falls back into a very comfortable and enjoyable creamy vanilla frosting profile with a little bit of cinnamon spice tingling the gums. My last sip and swish rekindles the sweet cherry fire I enjoyed earlier. This one is definitely an easy sipper but falls a bit short for me in the complexity department after starting out really strongly. There is a soft buttercream characteristic to the linger that is really the complete opposite of offensive. I would wholeheartedly recommend this whiskey to someone just getting started out in the space, but the veteran is definitely going to be yearning for a little more here.
I think of the comparable wedding pours we sampled, the Four Roses Small Batch would have bested this pour as my favorite between the two for some more perspective. This is certainly a good whiskey and I would recommend you try it at least once yourself!