Review: Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish - Drinkhacker

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Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Maple Wood Finish

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.

94.4 proof.


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Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish



Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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  1. cange October 26, 2010

    You’re killing me, whiskey makers! Another delicious-sounding bourbon I can’t quite afford, but I would rob my grandmother if necessary to taste. Ok, but after one bottle of this one, I’m going back to the less expensive Beam and Evan Williams Black label. If only there were an affordable ‘Whiskey Club.’ You know, like those CD clubs or VHS clubs whose enrollment forms would be found in the back of ‘TV Guide’ 20 years ago.

  2. Dennis October 31, 2010

    I am getting a bottle tomorrow along with a bottle of last year’s seasoned oak finish. I am really looking forward to both of them.

  3. JD November 1, 2010

    I have been debating with myself as to whether or not this is a bourbon by definition.

    By definition bourbon may only be called “bourbon” if it is charred in new charred American oak barrels. Now the maple aging is only a finish, but I wonder if it may still be a violation.

    Secondly, no color or flavor is to be added to a “bourbon.” It can be argued that the maple finish adds a flavor.

    Regardless, of is designation I do look forward to sampling this whisky. I just thought some others may find this interesting.

  4. ThirstySouth November 2, 2010

    Thanks for the review, just posted on this one and linked here, asking the question – brilliant move or bourbon gimmick? I lean to gimmick… here’s the post on –

  5. Christopher Null November 2, 2010

    ThirstySouth – it’s a bit of both, but I think bourbon companies, which have been nowhere near as adventurous as the Scots, are wise to start branching out and experimenting with curiosities like this.


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