Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve: Distillers Select (USA: Bourbon: 43.2%)

Visual: Deep burnished gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Husked barley and honey. Meringue. Dried raspberry. Rye bread. Menthol touch. Vanilla.

Body: Smooth. Rye and peppercorn. Charcoal. Vanilla. Sour dough. Raspberry notes and meringue. Toffee. Milky chocolate. Menthol touch. Water smooths to add more toffee and vanilla.

Finish: Dry. Charcoal and vanilla. Strawberry notes. Milky chocolate.

Conclusion: This is amazingly mellow for a bourbon. That isn’t intended as a knock on bourbon, I have always liked a spirit with a bit of edge, but this is very satisfyingly mellow, and one of the few bourbons I have tried that actually gets better with water.

Initially there is a slightly harsh edge to it with the spicy rye notes, then slowly you get the vanilla and toffee layers so prevalent in most bourbon. What is interesting is the light fruity notes that come in with it. This is something I haven’t encountered much in bourbon. More interesting, even just a touch of water really brings out those elements and smooths away the last remnants of the harsh edges.

It is very easy to drink, smooth as it is, a bourbon that is full of what you would expect, then gives you a bit more that you didn’t. It is great both neat, where it has more peppercorns, spice and edge, and with water where it becomes a go to for easy sipping bourbon.

While it may not beat the rarities of the bourbon world when it comes to complexity it is no slouch, and it definitely replaced Makers Mark in my go to for (comparatively) easy to find bourbon. The mix of sweetness to rye character and fruit notes is just great, and the water to no water contrast makes for two different drinks in one.

Very interesting and should be the baseline of good bourbon.

Background: This was a gift from Paul Duran – many thanks guv. It’s been a while since I have done a bourbon review, and this was done with the calming backing tracks of a bit of Nirvana. I had just seen a youtube vid of current kids reacting to Nirvana and was happy to see most of the current generation enjoyed it. They get to live…for now.