Woodford Reserve is a Kentucky Bourbon marketed as a mid to high-end Bourbon. It is produced by the Brown-Forman Corporation, mainly in their distillery located near Versailles, Kentucky. Woodford is known as a smooth, well-made bourbon great for sipping or a high-end cocktail and is the official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. They have won numerous awards and accolades for their craftsmanship regarding whiskey production.
Woodford Reserve Products
In addition to the classic Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Woodford Reserve also produces a range of other products.
- Woodford Reserve Double Oak
This bottle is basically the standard Woodford Reserve Bourbon, however, when mature, it is put into a second white oak barrel which has been toasted and lightly charred to imbue the bourbon with a richer oak flavor. Look for soft notes of oak and vanilla exceeding those present in the classic Woodford Reserve. Bottled at 45.2% ABV.
- Woodford Reserve Rye
Woodford Reserve Rye is what’s known as a “Barely Legal Rye”, meaning it contains a percentage of rye in it’s mash bill just beyond the legal threshold to be considered rye whiskey. At 53% rye it is a few percentage points beyond the 51% threshold, but ultimately still considered “barely legal”. Barely legal rye is often considered excellent for cocktails because their more mild rye content plays well with other ingredients without overpowering them. Look for notes of spice, fruit, and tobacco in this bottle. Bottled at 45.2% ABV
- Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey
Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey, as the name implies, is a wheat whiskey made with a mash bill of 52% Wheat, 20% Malted Barley, 20% Corn, and 8% Rye. Look for sweet, fruity, and floral flavors behind the oakiness. Comparable to wheated bourbons like Maker’s Mark, Old Fitzgerald Prime, and Weller. Bottled at 45.2% ABV
- Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey
Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey is made with a mash bill of 51% Malted Barley, 47% Corn, and 2% Rye. It just meets the 51% threshold for being considered a Malted Whiskey. Expect flavors reminiscent of nuts and baked bread mingled with oak and corn. Bottled at 45.2% ABV.
- Other Bottlings
In addition to their regular retail range, Woodford also produces an annual limited edition Kentucky Derby bottle to celebrate the greatest two minutes in sports. They also produce a Masters Collection, a Distillery Series, and a Baccarat Edition.
The Masters’ Collection changes year to year and includes bottles such as a Brandy Cask finish, a cherry smoked malt bourbon, a Maplewood finish, and a chocolate malted rye among others.
The Distillery series also changes year to year and includes bottles such as double oak, a pinot noir finished rye, a bonded bourbon, and toasted oak rye among others.
The Baccarat edition is a selection of Woodfords finest bourbons, chosen by their Master Distiller, and then aged in ex-Cognac casks.
Woodford Reserve Pricing
Unlike some of Kentucky’s other famous bourbons and whiskeys which can be quite pricey, Woodford Reserve Prices seem a little more reasonable –
|Type||Bottle Size||Starting Price|
|Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey||375ml||$17.99|
|Woodford Reserve Double Oaked||750ml||$41.99|
|Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye||750ml||$31.99|
|Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt ||750ml||$31.99|
|Woodford Reserve Kentucky Wheat||750ml||$34.99|
|Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Chocolate Malted Rye||750ml||$139.99|
- Old Forester Signature
Produced by Brown-Forman using the same mash bill, but a different facility, this bourbon is very similar in quality to Woodford Reserve and likely a few bucks cheaper.
- Wild Turkey 101
Significantly cheaper than Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey 101 is lowkey a fantastic bourbon for cocktails. Being 101 proof, it packs a solid punch that will shine through cocktail ingredients like citrus juice and bitters. Great for an old fashioned and not bad to sip on neat either.
A solid upgrade over Woodford Reserve and that is reflected in the price. Blanton’s is made by the Sazerac Company at their Buffalo Trace distillery using an undisclosed mash bill. Their bottles are often sought after by collectors looking to complete a set of lettered bottle stoppers. The whiskey is smooth with notes of raisins, caramel, and light spice.
With a mash bill of 75% Corn, 13% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley, Knob Creek is a bit different than Woodford, but still an excellent quality product. It isn’t especially unique, but it is a solid representation of a classic bourbon and has a bold enough flavor to work as a cocktail whiskey or serve as an adequate sipper.
Woodford Old Fashioned
- 2 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Rye
- ¼ oz Maple Syrup (or simple syrup)
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
Stir, strain over a large cube, and garnish with an orange peel.
The Left Hand
By Sam Ross, Milk and Honey, New York
- 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon (or bourbon of your choice)
- .75 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Di Torino)
- .75 oz Campari
- 2 dashes Mole Bitters
Stir, strain over ice, garnish with an orange peel.
This slight twist on the classic boulevardier was created to highlight bourbon, in conjunction with a cocktail called the right hand which highlighted rum.
History of Woodford Reserve Distillery
The Woodford Reserve Distillery was formerly known as the Oscar Pepper distillery and whiskey has been distilled on the site as far back as 1812. It was founded by Elijah Pepper and during the mid-1800s the distillery employed a man named Dr. James Crow introduced the use of sour mash in the fermentation process, the use of a pot still, and the concept of barrel aging to Kentucky distillers.
In 1941, it was purchased by current owners, the Brown-Forman Corporation, who sold and then repurchased the property in 1993 and began distillation at the site, introducing the Woodford Reserve brand in 1996. The Woodford Reserve distillery is considered a piece of Kentucky heritage, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and considered a National Historic Landmark. It is also part of the American Whiskey Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail programs.
Proof of Woodford Reserve’s excellence is its long list of accolades from prestigious award-giving bodies and authorities in wine and spirits. Some of these are the following:
- Won Double Gold Medal in 2005 and 2013 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Gold in 2006, 20007, 2011, and 2012, and Silver in 2008 and 2010
- Scored between 90 and 91 by The Beverage Testing Institute and 90 to 95 rating by the Wine Enthusiast
Woodford Reserve Production
Woodford Reserve is produced in Kentucky using a mash bill of 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley. The grains are mixed with Kentucky limestone water to form a mash and then fermented for six days, which is on the longer side for most bourbons. Their mash is then split into two parts, with one being distilled in traditional column stills at the Brown-Forman distillery in Shively, Kentucky while the other is distilled in pot stills at the Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles, Kentucky. The two distillates are then barreled in new, charred white oak barrels made at the distillery’s own cooperage and aged in heat cycled warehouses until ready for consumption. Their classic bourbon is bottled at a respectable 45.2% ABV