While Woodford Reserve’s Batch Proof has been an annual release since 2018, we’ve reviewed it only once, in 2020. The whiskey isn’t designed to change dramatically from year to year, however. It’s a mingling of standard Woodford Reserve barrels all pulled into a single batch, then bottled at barrel — or, in this case — “batch” strength. If you like Woodford at its standard 90.4 proof, the idea holds, well, you’ll love it at full strength. This year that hits 124.7 proof, less than 1% abv different than 2020’s 123.6 proof.
As in 2020, I like this plenty, and it carries a lot of Woodford’s DNA, just plumped up. Chocolatey and nutty on the nose, the wood components are soothing and well-integrated, leaving room for some Maraska cherry notes to emerge. Increasingly toasty as it develops in glass, the bourbon offers a faint but pleasing smokiness, perhaps of applewood smoke curing bacon.
Similar characteristics imbue the palate: Chocolate and cherry, with ample baking spice backing the duo up. Baked apple and banana load into the van shortly after, filtered through a slight smokiness and an evergreen quality that nods vaguely at dill. Well-rounded and engaging, it’s a tempting, mouth-watering whiskey that’s hard to put down and which works perfectly well, even at full strength. Add some water if you’d like, but then you’ve basically got yourself a glass of Woodford.