Woodford Reserve loves experimenting with the different aspects of making whiskey. These experiments usually culminate in a yearly Master’s Collection released every fall. Some releases are just okay, while some are simply outstanding. With the newly unveiled Distillery Series, Woodford Reserve wants to release more of their experiments. As the name implies, this series is a distillery purchase only, at least for now. Different expressions will be released several times a year in 375ml bottles with a $49.99 tag. The first two releases are Double Double Oaked and Sweet Mash Redux. According to the press release, here’s how the distillery explains the inaugural releases:
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.
Right off the bat, the Double Double Oaked is a shade darker than the Sweet Mash Redux. Here are my tasting notes:
Sweet Mash Redux
On the nose is fresh sweet oak, spiced apple, some rye grain and an herbal note. The typical caramel and vanilla bourbon aromas are buried underneath. They definitely aren’t the standouts here. The rye note hits my palate first, followed by sweet oak and cinnamon spice. It comes across pretty spicy for a 90.4 proof bourbon. I even get a slight brandy note here. The finish is medium in length, and features a combo of sweet fruit candy and oak.
Double Double Oaked
Let’s pretend the aromas here are a band. Toasted oak provides the backbeat, while caramel, maple, vanilla and cinnamon spice all play solos. S’more comes in for an unadvertised cameo. That’s how I’d describe the scene. The oak barrel really show off its might here. Taste-wise, there’s lots going on here. Dried fruits, dark chocolate-covered black cherry, and oak are in the initial blast of flavor. Mid-palate I get some dark toffee and vanilla. When I add a little water, I get blackberry jam – one of the few times I get the distillery’s official tasting notes. Double Double Oaked has a medium length finish of black cherry and oak.
Some final thoughts. Both releases are interesting, and neither is bad.. Double Double Oaked carries more intense traditional bourbon flavors, while Sweet Mash Redux showcases flavors normally overshadowed in bourbon. Personally, I enjoyed the DDO much more than the SMR.