Without too much fanfare or forewarning, Woodford Reserve recently introduced a new addition to its permanent lineup. Woodford Reserve Wheat is the fifth whiskey in its full-time portfolio and a rare offering out of Kentucky. The only other majority wheat mashbill that I’m aware of is Heaven Hill’s Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey, and like Bernheim, this one clocks in at just over 50% wheat (52% to be exact). Unlike Bernheim, this one is actually a four grain mash, with equal parts corn and malt (20%) and the remainder rye (8%). There’s no age statement and no information about the aging regimen. From the tasting notes provided on the website, it appears this one is meant to showcase Woodford’s fruit-forward side. Let’s see about that, shall we.
The nose is initially soft with earthy notes, hay bales, and grass clippings. As it opens, there’s some cigar box in the mix, brown sugar, and a distinct red apple note. The palate is much less shy about things, with a big burst of candied apple up front that becomes caramel covered as it moves across the tongue. There’s a little cocktail cherry in the mix and a subtle stewed pear component, but all kinds of apple — crisp apple, cinnamon baked apples, even dried apples — dominate. It’s light on the palate, bordering on thin, but the flavors linger in all the right places and never get too sweet. Things get a tad watery on the finish, with some milk chocolate and baking spice finally rising to the foreground to remind you that you’re drinking whiskey and not Calvados or apple brandy. On the whole, it’s a fun addition to the Woodford line that definitely showcases its “fruitier” side.