My First Bourbon Love - Woodford Reserve
My introduction to bourbon began with a bottle of Woodford Reserve. The first bottle, a gift from a friend, sat on our self for many years. Like most who are new to bourbon, that initial sip was mostly ethanol. It was intense, overwhelming and my initial thought was how in the world can anyone enjoy this stuff.
Ten years later, I have grown to love bourbon, the bourbon culture, and this history of bourbon. My palate is always developing, and while I occasionally get the ethanol nose, I have come to appreciate the unique flavors in each sip. Woodford Reserve and their yearly expressions remain some of my favorite bourbons.
The life of Woodford Reserve began in 1993 when Brown-Forman re-purchased the distillery from a local farmer. Under the direction of master distiller Lincoln Henderson, Woodford Reserve released its first bottle to the public in 1996. Lincoln Henderson is a legend in the bourbon-making industry. He spent the majority of his career at Brown-Forman, where in addition to Woodford, he masterminded the notable Gentleman Jack. Lincoln Henderson retired from Brown-Forman in 2006 but went on to create Angel's Envy, his only independent bourbon project.
While Woodford Reserve does not have the historical lore of many brands', the distillery where it is made does. Designated on the National Registry of Historic places, the distillery produced its first bourbon in 1812.
Known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, Elijah Pepper oversaw some of the most significant bourbon production changes, and they remain relevant today. Dr. James Crow discovered sour mash distillation, pot still distillation, and barrel fermentation while an employee of the Oscar Pepper Distillery.
Oscar Pepper died in 1867 and, the distillery was sold to Leopold Labrat and James Graham in 1878, who owned and operated it until Brown-Forman purchased the property in 1941. Brown-Forman operated the distillery until the late '60s when they sold it to a local farmer. As the demand for bourbon began to increase, it was re-purchased by Brown-Forman in 1993.
Today, Brown-Forman operates the Woodford Reserve Distillery, which is open to visitors and guests throughout the year. They are the official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby and
Since 2006, master distiller Chris Morris and assistant master distiller Elizabeth McCall have released a Woodford Master's Collection. These highly prized bottles have pushed the boundaries of exploration and creativity.
2006 - Four Grain
2007 - Sonoma Cuter Chardonnay Finish
2008 – 1838 Sweet Mash
2009 – Seasoned Oak Finish
2010 – Maplewood Finish
2011 – 100% Rye in New and Used Casks
2012 – Four Wood
2013 – 100% Malt in New & Used Casks
2014 – Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Finish
2015 – 1838 Style White Corn
2016 – Brandy Cask Finish
2017 – Cherry Smoked Malt Bourbon
2018 – Oat Grain & Select American Oak Bourbon
2019 – Chocolate Malted Rye
2020 - Batch Proof (Review Coming Soon)
Additionally, each year Master Distiller Chris Morriss releases a one-of-a-kind expression that explodes the boundaries of whiskey. These releases are only available at the distillery, and they are worth the trip to Versailles, KY.
Double Double Oaked 2015
Sweet Mash Redux 2015
Frosty Four Wood 2016
5 Malt Whiskey 2016
Double Double Oaked 2017
Blended Rye Whiskey 2017
Toasted Oak Rye 2017
Pinot Noir Finished Rye 2017
Double Double Oaked 2018
Barrel Finished Rye 2018
Bottled in Bond 2018
Double Double Oaked 2019
Three Grain 2019
Brandy Cask Finish 2019 (reviewing coming soon)
Double Double Oaked 2020
Five Wood 2020 (review coming soon)
Four Grain 2020 (Read Review)
Woodford Reserve was my introduction to the world of bourbon. Like any first love, it holds a special place in my heart. I encourage you to explore their products. I think you will enjoy them!