I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for a whiskey company to get into the bitters business, but Woodford Reserve has finally opened that door, introducing its first bitters, barrel-aged and spiced cherry-flavored. Crafted in conjunction with Bourbon Barrel Foods, the bitters are specifically designed for use in a Manhattan cocktail (and presumably one with Woodford Reserve Bourbon in it).
Lots of cherry on the nose. Just pour a few dashes into a glass and sniff the room — you can’t miss it. Stick your nose in that glass and it’s like cracking open a jar of fresh Bing cherries. Tasted solo, the cherries are overwhelmed by wood and bitterness (as well they should be), but to a degree that makes you wonder where the fruit went.
In a quickie Manhattan it comes back. In fact, there’s enough cherry and spice in the bitters to make a reasonable facsimile of a Manhattan even if you don’t have vermouth on hand. It clearly works well with Woodford, balancing out that whiskey’s typical woodiness with some classic flavors that come across as almost beach-like. Think bitters can’t make or break a cocktail? Think again.
A- / $15 (100ml) / woodfordreserve.com