Review: Woodford Reserve Distillery Series – French Oak Cask Finished Rye

Woodford’s latest Distillery Series whiskey — the seventh in this burgeoning portfolio of experimental, one-off spirits — has arrived. French Oak Cask Finished Rye is an interesting one. Per Woodford:

The French Oak Cask Finished Rye completes a trilogy of rye offerings released this summer including Blended Rye and Toasted Oak Rye. Developed by Master Distiller Chris Morris, French Oak Cask Finished Rye is a unique batching of the rye mash distillate used in the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Aged Cask Rye [released in 2011] that matured in French Oak barrels for three years. The French Oak barrels originally held Pinot Noir before they were seasoned with Woodford Reserve Bourbon. This combination produced a soft, fruit-forward rye with hints of baking spices.

As with the Toasted Oak Rye, this is a worthy experiment that works well — in fact, it’s probably the best of this trilogy.

On the nose, tons of rye-heavy spice, a hint of brandied cherries, a modest wood profile, and a gingerbread finish all come together to offer a cohesive, almost brazen aromatic profile. The body is a bit more savory than the nose would indicate, offering a burly amaro character up front that blends with cinnamon sticks, licorice root, and cloves. It’s almost overpowering at first, but a gentle sweetness forms on the palate as the finish comes along, a bit of brown sugar, more of those brandied cherries, and a hint of gingerbread cake. It’s a bit brooding, but surprisingly compelling — and perfect for the cooler months ahead.

Fun, unusual, and fantastic stuff. Pick up a bottle if you happen across one.

86.4 proof.

A / $46 (375ml) / woodfordreserve.com

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