Great bold flavor, and an interesting extra dimension of fruit and chocolate on the palate.
The alcohol heat makes the palate flavors quite messy and jumbled.
Woodford Reserve Batch Proof is a limited edition offering of the standard Woodford Reserve straight bourbon bottled essentially without any dilution, giving fans of the brand a chance to experience the bourbon about as close as straight from the barrel as possible. For a more comprehensive summary of the Woodford Reserve brand, see last year’s review of the standard bourbon. Suffice to say here, Woodford Reserve is, by production capacity, a small distillery that buck the Kentucky distilling trend of using continuous column style stills in favor of copper pot stills commonly employed to make single malt scotch or Irish whiskey. Because their production capacity is limited, stocks of Woodford Reserve are often fortified with bourbon from the Brown Forman Distillery in Shively that produces whiskey for Old Forester.
The Batch Proof is part of Woodford Reserve’s “Master’s Collection”, which is a yearly limited release usually featuring some sort of innovation. Past releases have included bourbon finished in brandy casks, and bourbon distilled from a mash containing cherrywood smoked barley. This release maintains the classical bourbon production sans any odd cask finishes or grain manipulations, and is in essence the honey barrels of the standard bourbon vatted together and bottled without dilution
- Produced by Brown-Forman at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY
- Cask type: New American Oak
- Mash bill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley
- Age: Non-age stated
- ABV: 62.5% (125 proof)
Nose: Quite strong with wood tannins popping out, cedar wood, honey-lemon zest, fresh leather and butterscotch. There are some smokey and floral undertones, and a bit of chocolate with an odd coconut note buried deep within the aroma. The nose certainly embodies Woodford’s oak-forward approach, but has much more going on than Woodford’s standard bourbon aroma.
Palate: Fresh apple with honey and caramel greet the palate. Tart, sweet, and lush. I really like that fruit influence. The development introduces further flavors of baking spice (cinnamon), chocolate, and candied butterscotch, accompanied by a heavy alcohol.
Finish: Full, long and sweet with burnt brown sugar, cocoa, and toasted wood, dense chocolate sponge cake and a warming burn. As it fades, traces of corn covered by toffee and caramel with just a touch of banana linger.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. This is a great bourbon, and a nice step in the right direction for Woodford Reserve. It is a huge step above any lower proof Woodford Reserve I’ve tried. That said, it’s hotter than some other barrel proof bourbons, and a bit messy. The fruit and chocolate influences on the palate and interesting and enjoyable, but are muddled up by the alcohol heat. This is really a big flavor/big burn bourbon, and is not for the faint of heart.
My biggest issue with Woodford Reserve Batch Proof is the price. Unless you are a huge fan of Woodford Reserve, there’s really no reason to pursue this limited release, when in essence its a non-age stated (I’d guess well-below 10 years old) barrel proof bourbon for more than double the price of easier to find barrel proof bourbons of established quality like Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Booker’s, or Rare Breed. While I’d call this a high-quality bourbon, its not that high, even in today’s inflated limited edition market. I mean you’ve gotta give me something – an age, a peculiarity, a commemoration, something that sets this apart from any other NAS or age stated barrel proof bourbon that can be easily found for $50-70. Given it’s peers, this certainly does not taste to me like a $130 bourbon, and I’d caution anyone to exercise caution before buying anything more than a pour of this at the bar.
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: Truly Exceptional
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