Review: Woodford Reserve Distillery Series – Blended Rye

Woodford Reserve’s latest entry into its Distillery Series — so-called because it is only sold at the distillery — is called Blended Rye. As the name suggests, it’s a blend of rye whiskeys:

Woodford Reserve announces the latest Distillery Series expression as a unique blend of aged rye whiskey. The Woodford Reserve Distillery first made a whiskey from rye mash for the Masters Collection in 2004.  The recipe was 100% rye.  The following year in 2005, the production of rye whiskey for the Distiller’s Select line began.  This was a 53% rye, 33% corn and 14% malted barley recipe. The Distillery Series highlights Woodford Reserve’s creative line of complex offerings showcasing the brand’s commitment to innovation and premium craftsmanship.

The original rye mash distillate used in the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Aged Cask Rye expression [from 2004] had matured in used Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels. Select quantities of this quality rye were held back to continue maturing until 2017 when it was blended with the last of the original Distiller’s Select Straight Rye barrels to create this unique Rye Whiskey flavor profile.

Of special note, this is the first of three ryes that will be released in the Distillery Series this year.

The nose is on point — racy with black pepper, cloves, and ample barrel char. It’s light on the sweeter baking spices but offers a pungency that is enticing and a bit exotic. Things go a little sideways once you actually start drinking it. Here that ultra-savory char character overpowers everything, attacking the palate with notes of charcoal, well-done meat, and gnawed-on tree roots. What sweetness, fruit, and vanilla notes are here are so well buried that it’s hard to make much sense of them. A bit of stone fruit teases the palate at first, but it’s washed away almost immediately, leaving behind a mouth-coating blend of pepper and sawdust on the finish.

Altogether it’s an intriguing experiment, but this one just never really gets fully off the ground, done in by some whiskey that’s simply seen too much barrel time.

90.4 proof.

B- / $46 (375ml) / woodfordreserve.com

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