Woodford Reserve’s Distillery Series saw two new spring releases last year. The first was Barrel Finished Rye, an impressive rye whiskey finished in a second heavily toasted but lightly charred barrel. The other release, Bottled in Bond, seems far less adventurous by comparison. Essentially, this is just a bottled in bond version of Woodford Reserve meaning that it’s at least four years old, distilled at the same distillery in the same distilling season, and bottled at 100 proof. The only real difference then from standard Woodford is a slightly higher bottling proof (less than 10 proof points). Still, this is Woodford’s very first bottled in bond offering. So that’s something, I suppose. But is it that different from regular Woodford?
The nose is definitely punchier than normal Woodford, even more so than I would expect for the modest increase in alcohol. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It actually lends some welcome complexity to the typical oak-forward Woodford aroma. There are big notes of incense, raisin, and saddle leather along with a healthy dose of wet wood chips and cloves. The classic cinnamon apple note that I find in Woodford is also there, but it’s richer and more savory — apple pie vs. applesauce. The palate is no more racy than the standard offering, but it is a tad sweeter with notes of vanilla, cinnamon stick, and green apple. The extra proof works against it here with more astringency in the oak notes and less balance than regular Woodford, but that improves on the medium-length finish as the heat tempers and more baking spice elements develop.
At the end of the day, there’s actually plenty to distinguish this Woodford Reserve Bottled in Bond from the standard offering. It’s a fun bottle to explore if you can track one down.
A- / $50 (375ml) / woodfordreserve.com