Of the major bourbon producers and distilleries, Woodford Reserve and their owners Brown-Forman, are probably the least loved by bourbon geeks. People like the vicious Sku have made their careers on blood feuds with this proud company and scion of American Tradition. As a general neophyte in the world of bourbon, and being studiously opposed to controversy myself, I take no position on these matters; though I do feel, as a matter of principle, that powerful bloggers like Sku should be more supportive and nurturing towards small, brave companies trying to make it in a hard-scrabble world.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Woodford Reserve is on almost no one’s list of great American bourbons, and has the kind of reputation that keeps cautious people like me from purchasing bottles or even a pour in a bar on spec. But when you’re flying international on Delta and Woodford Reserve is their “house” bourbon and you get a complimentary miniature that you never get around to drinking because one of your children turns into an utter bastard before you get to it…well, then months after that flight you get around to finally drinking and reviewing it.
Woodford Reserve (45.2; from a miniature bottle)
Nose: A lot of caramel with a minty undertone that expands quite quickly. Quite a bit of spice too—cinnamon. Gets sweeter as it settles, but it’s an artificial, candy’ish kind of sweetness. With a lot more time I’m getting a bit of citrus under the sharper rye notes.
Palate: Less expressive on the palate at first but then there’s some mild caramel mixed in with some toffee. Soft mouthfeel that just skirts the border of being thin. Not as spicy as on the nose but that minty/menthol coolness is here too. Some orange peel too and it comes through more clearly than on the nose.
Finish: Medium. The oak makes the lasting impression and there’s some char as well.
Comments: Nothing to get excited about, but not bad at all. I’d happily drink it if options were limited. Even though the nose was more expressive I preferred it on the palate. I did not add water.
Rating: 82 points.