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Woodford Reserve
Seasoned Oak Finish Bourbon

Skip the Cola and Drink it Neat

Woodford Reserve Seasoned Oak Finish Bourbon

Sure, we taste a lot of spirits. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. But what do we drink when we're off-duty? The answer, when it comes to bourbon, is Woodford Reserve. We enjoy it neat, on the rocks, and even in cocktails, although we feel it's a waste to just drown it in Coca-Cola like we do with lesser bourbons.

Like Coca-Cola, there is the singular product, and then variations on a theme. (Although we'd be thrilled with the advent of a diet bourbon, scientists are still trying to perfect that.) Besides the basic style, we've enjoyed a batch of Woodford made especially for The Edison, a Los Angeles nightspot, as well as a few from their esteemed limited release Master's Collection series. Their last entry, 1838 Sweet Mash, changed the make-up of the ingredients used in the mash before distillation. Their newest, Seasoned Oak Finish, changes the end-game, combining fully-matured Woodford Reserve with barrels crafted from wood that have been exposed to the outdoors for three to five years, instead of the typical three to five months. This is reminiscent of 2007's limited release, the enjoyable Sonoma-Cutrer Finish, which aged the bourbon in used Chardonnay barrels.

The result is a bolder, more complex bourbon with spice that dances on the tongue. The biggest difference between this bottling and the generic Woodford is not the aroma of sweet tobacco or the mahogany color, but rather the flavor profile. Part of the added bite is from its strength—at 100.4 proof, it's more than half alcohol, while classic Woodford Reserve weighs in at just 90.4 proof—but it is still smooth, even neat. We found it to be chewier in the mouth, with wood and pepper flavors poking through the caramel, ending with a long, satisfying finish that left us wanting more.

Only 1,337 cases were made and will be sold in the U.S., parts of Europe, New Zealand and Australia. It's nice to see Woodford taking chances instead of relying solely on their signature product. One fact that helps minimize the risks is that Woodford makes their own barrels, so they have a lot of control over the process. Another is that they have plenty of devoted fans who know they won't just put their name on an inferior product to increase profits. We're already looking forward to the next Master's Collection.

by Jeff Hoyt

Price: $90
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