Woodford Reserve Distillery will release up to three expressions of its “Distillery Series” at various times throughout the year. The inaugural two offerings will be Double Double Oaked and Sweet Mash Redux. These small-batch offerings range from finished whiskies to straight bourbons and other unique spirits. Master Distiller Chris Morris has spent the last several years developing and perfecting the individual expressions within the Distillery Series. Experiments in the Distillery Series adjust one or more of the five sources of flavor.
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The Five Sources of Flavor for Bourbon
- Grain: All whiskey is made from grain. Grains may include various levels of corn, rye, wheat or barley.
- Fermentation: Yeasts are single-celled, micro-organisms that turn sugar into alcohol by feeding on sugar and other nutrients. Every distillery maintains its own, carefully tended strain of yeast.
- Distillation: The fermented mash is pumped into the still house where it is distilled. This is where heat converts the “beer” into spirits.
- Maturation: Maturation is a complex combination of things. Bourbon is aged in new, charred, white American Oak barrels and stored for at least 2 years. For more on barrel maturation, see this related story: Understanding Oak Barrel Maturation – Part 2: Maturity is Not Age.
- Water: The taste of water varies by location. Kentucky is known for its limestone filtered water. Kentucky limestone water trickles through vast beds of limestone rock which filter out iron and other bad tasting minerals, like sulfur. Water is also used in the maturation and bottling stages to adjust the proof. It is generally, the same spring water which is totally
For the Woodford Reserve Distillery series, they have altered four of the five sources: grain, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Messing with their Kentucky limestone water would be sacrilegious.
“With the Woodford Reserve Distillery Series, we used our industry and sensory knowledge to create an eclectic line of one-of-a-kind expressions,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. “By pushing the creative boundaries of whiskeys even further, we are inviting our customers who visit our distillery to experience extreme variations of whiskey.”
Double Double Oaked and Sweet Mash Redux are currently the only Distillery Series expressions to be considered straight bourbons. Double Double Oaked is the result of finishing mature Woodford Reserve Double Oaked for an additional year in its second, heavily toasted lightly charred new oak barrel. The extra year in the barrel creates a bourbon that is distinctly spicier than its original counterpart, known for its sweeter taste and finish.
Sweet Mash Redux, with prominent fruit and herbal flavor notes, is not new to Woodford Reserve, who in 2008 released Sweet Mash Finish as part of its Master’s Collection series. While traditional Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is a sour mash bourbon, modifying the fermentation process to include a non-soured mash creates a bourbon of higher pH effect and heightened fruit notes throughout.
As early as the mid-1800s, the site of the present-day Woodford Reserve Distillery was the location for distilling practices, an attitude that Oscar Pepper and Master Distiller James Crow, the first people to commercially distill at the location, fully embraced. Together, they perfected several whiskey production processes that continue to be used throughout the industry and have since become synonymous with great whiskey. The Woodford Reserve Distillery Series is produced to honor the early whiskey innovation that occurred at the site.
Here are the tasting notes provided by Woodford Reserve Distillery.
Tasting Notes for Double Double Oaked
Color: Roasted coffee bean
Aroma: A robust medley of rich maple syrup, dark butterscotch, brittle caramel, bittersweet chocolate, burnt marshmallow and sweet hickory smoke notes dominate the nose.
Taste: Rich dried cherry and cranberry fruit swim in a blackberry jam brightened with hints of ripe apple. Chai tea and warming clove notes develop to spice up the palate.
Finish: Warm and drying with a lingering clove character.
Tasting Notes for Sweet Mash Redux
Color: Burnished gold
Aroma: Softly sweet with delicate notes of anise, cedar and a subtle cassia bark note mingle with an overripe apple fruitiness. A malty shortbread note dusted with brown sugar and glazed with caramel combine to suggest a slice of Dutch apple pie.
Taste: Soft and sweet with hints of malt sharpened with a spice medley and cedar.
Finish: Subtle spice, oak and fruit notes gently fade in a warm farewell.
The Woodford Reserve Distillery Series will be available for purchase at the Woodford Reserve Distillery beginning in late July with a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a 375ml bottle.