Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 1838 Style White Corn Bourbon Review

Photo courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Photo courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Autumn means one thing for the folks at Woodford Reserve – the release of a new Master’s Collection.  For this year’s release, Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris played around with grains, in this case, corn.  In a throwback and homage to legendary whisky makers Oscar Pepper and James Crow, Morris is utilizing white corn instead of the traditional yellow corn.  Pepper and Crow used white corn back from the late-1830s to the 1850s.  Additionally, according to the press release, Morris was able to “develop and bring to life a recipe Pepper and Crow might have used.”

Nosing this bourbon, I can immediately tell this isn’t the standard Woodford Reserve.  I get sweet corn grits and what seems like a young oak note – similar to what I get on some craft whiskies.  All over a bed of toffee and ginger snaps.  The whiskey is slightly spicy upfront, with buttered corn and lemon pudding dominating, followed by a touch of toffee.  The finish here is all black pepper, and becomes dry rather quickly.  The body here feels a bit thin, especially for a 90.4 proof bourbon.

I always applaud experimentation.  Sometimes it works.  Other times it doesn’t.  However it is always interesting.  This year’s Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection can best be summed up as interesting.  Don’t go into it expecting a Woodford Reserve-like bourbon.  It’s different and interesting, but I think it might take some folks time to fully warm up to this one.  Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 1838 Style White Corn carries an SRP of $99.

(Note: A review sample was provided by Woodford Reserve.)

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Finish Review

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.