I was intrigued by this when it was introduced in early 2018. I truly enjoyed one of Woodford’s first forays into the barley arena with Master’s Collection Cherrywood Smoked Barley and wondered if this rendition could compete. Let’s just say that this is one of my favorite non-bourbon whiskeys for a change of pace.
Rounding out the Four Grains
Woodford Reserve has sought to introduce a whiskey to represent each of the four primary grains – corn with the Woodford Reserve Distillers Select and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, rye with their Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey, the recent introduction of their Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey and this one – the Malt Whiskey.
Typically, bourbon is made from 3 or 4 grains – corn, rye, and barley or corn, wheat, and barley. Occasionally a bourbon will use all four grains, such as the very delicious J. Henry & Sons. Master Distiller Chris Morris has created an American malt whiskey that is very approachable and bridges the gap with between bourbon and other American and Irish malt whiskeys.
The mash bill is of 51% malted barley, 47% corn, and 2% rye. It was nice to see that parent Brown-Forester has chosen to price this expression at a similar price point as the traditional Distillers Select and Rye – about $32 – $34 a bottle.
This special release is bottled at 90.4 proof in a blue-labeled Woodford Reserve bottle. I recall the first bottle of this I purchased at the distillery following our Corn-to-Cork tour was labeled as batch 0001. What a treat!
Eye: Medium copper.
Nose: Wow! There is sweetness from the corn, lightly toasted grassy notes from the malt, and even some light fruit (cherry) notes. The nose on this is delicious and flavorful. At the end of a long week, the woodsy and grassy outdoorsy notes are both soothing and calming.
Palate: On the tongue, this is silky and smooth. There is cornbread sweetness followed by peppery spice and more cherry notes. I love the ever so gentle campfire notes that appear towards the end of the taste – by no means a “peated scotch”; rather the gentle dancing flames with a graham-cracker, chocolate, marshmallow smore-like sweetness.
Finish: Medium in length with graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow notes ending in a soft grassy finish. Wow! This is nice.
Overall: This is one I love to keep on hand as a great change-of-pace from traditional bourbons. For those wanting to explore beyond a corn-focused product, this Malt Whiskey is one to consider as a bride to malt whiskeys. The high corn mash bill will keep it sweet and a little less “grassy” than traditional malts..
The price point is attractive, as well. At a low-$30-something, this is one to keep on the shelf and share with friends. I can’t speak on this one as a mixer, as I love it neat or with a sphere of ice. Consider adding this one to your shelf as a great breakaway from the mundane.