Review: Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition

Photo courtesy of Woodford Reserve

2020 is almost over. Let me repeat that: 2020 is almost over. Sigh. I don’t know about you, but retail therapy was certainly present in my household this year. This rang true in two areas: guitars and whiskey. Did I really need to buy all those guitars this year? Of course not. I’m not even skilled in guitar playing. But whiskey, that’s something entirely different. I have an established whiskey blog that’s almost seven years old. So, it’s my job to buy lots of whiskey. At least that’s what I tell my wife.

So, if you’re in a 2020 non-stop buying spree or are in the market to buy a gift for the whiskey lover in your life “who has everything,” this release from Woodford Reserve might be up your alley.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition is now available stateside. Yes, that’s the same Baccarat known for their fine crystal. Available previously as a travel retail exclusive, Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition sees the Kentucky Bourbon finished in XO cognac casks for an additional three years.

Before I get to the tasting notes, I should mention the Baccarat crystal decanter is one of the loveliest I’ve ever seen. No surprising considering it is made by Baccarat.

The nose is loaded with dark fruit and baking spice as well as dark caramel and some oak spice. On the palate, the 90.4 proof whiskey ensures easy drinking. Don’t conflate “easy drinking” with “not complex”, because this bourbon blossoms nicely. The traditional Woodford Reserve notes – caramel, vanilla, spice – are complemented by ripe plum, oak spice, and tobacco. The medium-long finish carries a fruity sweetness that’s usually associated with cognac.

What a decadent release from Woodford Reserve! Bourbon whiskey and cognac casks play well together. Flavors and aromas complement each other beautifully. Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition is available for an SRP of $2,000. This release is Woodford’s attempt to place bourbon on the same playing field as older, expensive single malts despite not carrying an age statement. It certainly holds its own in aroma and flavor, though the majority of the cost here is going to be that beautiful crystal decanter. Do NOT pass up an opportunity to try this one if the opportunity ever presents itself. You’ll be thankful you did.

Thanks to Woodford Reserve for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Stagg Jr. (Batch 13)

The bourbon fan who can’t obtain a coveted bottle of George Stagg might have an easier time finding Stagg Jr. The whiskey distilled by Buffalo Trace Distillery is eight years old and presented, like its father, uncut and unfiltered. The two whiskies share the same mash bill as well. The 13th release of Stagg Jr. (how time has passed!) arrives at a hearty 128.4 proof.

I can’t believe it’s been seven years since this brand came to market. Tasting a few batches since the beginning, they’ve come a long way from the overly hot first release. How does this one fare?

The nose is inviting, offering hints of dark fruit (think chocolate covered cherries), oak spice, and toffee. It clearly shares DNA with its BTAC brethren. The palate is quite drinkable neat, though a splash of water doesn’t hurt. It features hints of dark caramel, cinnamon bark, and a splash of fruit sweetness and tanginess. The finish is long, as expected with a barrel proof bourbon, with lingering hints of spiced dark caramel and sweet oak.

Buffalo Trace Distillery should be commended for this release. In my humble opinion, they’ve managed to really hone the George Stagg DNA into a whiskey half its age. Sure, it’s nowhere near as dark and brooding as the BTAC version, but it carries those darker caramels and cinnamon spice well. For an eight year old barrel proof bourbon priced at about $50, you can’t go wrong.

Thanks to Buffalo Trace Distillery for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Larceny Barrel Proof (Batch A120)

Starting in January 2020, Heaven Hill will release the new Larceny Barrel Proof three times a year, with other batches also arriving every May and September. Just like the standard Larceny release, this barrel proof edition is aged six to eight years. The barrel proof edition of Heaven Hill’s wheated mash bill bourbon is also non-chill filtered. It joins a small market of high-proof wheated bourbons competing against Maker’s Mark Cask Strength and W. L. Weller Full Proof.

Batches will utilize the same naming convention as Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. The first letter represents the batch release number for the year, followed by the month and year. In this case, A120 means this is the first batch, released in January 2020.

Batch A120 is bottled at 123.2 proof, or 61.62% abv. It starts rolling out to markets in January for a suggested retail price of $49.99.

There are hints of brown sugar, kettle corn, nutmeg, and cola on the nose. The soft, sweet approach of Larceny is apparent here, though presented in a much richer iteration. The palate first sees hints of spiced caramel, brioche, and vanilla. A bit of oak spice and slight astringency lead us to the short finish, which features a lingering barrel char and toffee note.

Larceny Barrel Proof does a nice job of transforming its approachable lower-proofed sibling into a much richer experience. The added proof points amplify the caramelized sugar quality of the whiskey. If you’re a fan of easy-drinking wheaters but are looking for a bit more oomph, place Larceny Barrel Proof in your sights. It’s an easy recommendation, especially for the $50 price tag. Just don’t expect a deep, complex bourbon.

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.