Another semi-experimental Bourbon from Woodford Reserve. The spin this time (it’s the company’s 5th installment in the Master’s Collection) is the use of maple wood in the finishing barrels. This is big news because it had been felt, according to Woodford, that maple wood couldn’t be used to make a barrel because of certain characteristics of the wood. But they managed the trick by simply toasting the barrels instead of charring them, traditional for standard oak barrels.
Maple wood is exceptionally high in sugar, so, in theory, this special edition whiskey should be considerably sweeter. If it wasn’t such a woody bruiser — 94.4 proof and burly with wood notes — it might be. Sure enough, cut it with a good splash of water and the sweetness comes out. It may be in my head, but I am sure I get the maple sap notes here — like pancake syrup, with touches of cinnamon and apple pie spice.
Wood is inescapable here, though, and despite the effects of the maple, one wonders if this whiskey didn’t spend just a little too long in the barrel. Savory and unique, to be sure, but what would have happened if Woodford had skipped the oak altogether and gone straight into maple from the start? Discuss amongst yourselves.
A- / $90 / woodfordreserve.com
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