For the past several years, Chris Morris, the Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, has been tinkering with his bourbon. He plays around with the different aspects of making whiskey, be it the mashbill, distillation process, aging or the finish. These experiments are released each fall as a small batch whiskey under Woodford Reserve’s “Master’s Collection” umbrella.
This year’s release sees Mr. Morris playing around with the finish again. He finished fully-matured Woodford Reserve Bourbon in barrels that previously held Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir. Back in 2007 he did something simliar – finishing Woodford Reserve in Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay barrels. From what I remember reading years ago, that release got mixed to good reviews. How does this year’s release taste? Woodford Reserve provided a tasting sample.
So… how does it taste? In a word: interesting. It’s got a deeper color than standard Woodford Reserve. On the nose, this whiskey is a bit oakier than I was expecting. Past that, I can make out separate typical bourbon aromas and pinot noir aromas. Taste-wise, just like in the aroma, there is a lot of oak. More so than you’d think for a bourbon less than 10 years old. I really wanted a “big fruit” bourbon with a prominent dark cherry flavor. What I got didn’t quite meet my high expectations. The fruit definitely comes out, but it seems to be competing with the traditional bourbon flavors of caramel, vanilla and spice. There’s obviously more flavor and boldness here versus traditional Woodford Reserve. What I like about this is that, given the pinot noir influence, it isn’t too sweet. The finish, however, is sweet, dry, and moderate in length.
I’ve only tasted one other “Master’s Collection” release – their Seasoned Oak Finish from 2009 (which I just picked up last month on my honeymoon.) That particular bourbon was outstanding. This one I’ll leave at “interesting.” At a MSRP of $99.99, I’d suggest you try it before you buy it… although I have a feeling most of you will really like what you taste.