Elizabeth McCall has taken over the reins from Chris Morris as Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve. The 2023 release - Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Four Grain - has two pairs of hands in the blending of four unique whiskeys.
The September 2023 selection is a blend of four whiskeys from the distillery: bourbon, rye whiskey, wheat whiskey, and their malt whiskey. The four whiskeys are blended and then finished in heavily toasted oak barrels. There is no disclosure of the unique percentages of each whiskey used in the blend.
The mash bills of the underlying non-bourbon whiskeys lean heavily towards corn notes, resulting in a sweeter whiskey, with the finished whiskey bottled at 90.4 proof. While no age statement is present, most agree that the whiskeys from Woodford Reserve are typically aged between 6-8 years.
Eye: Dark amber. With the second barreling, this reminds me a lot of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. There are numerous long, medium legs dripping slowly down the inside of the Glencairn glass.
Nose: Sweet vanilla and caramel, layered with marzipan fruit candies, spice, and light oak.
Palate: Continuing the sweeter notes, there is vanilla and maple syrup candy chews. This is balanced with malt whiskey notes of cereal grains and graham cracker flavor.
Finish: Long with toasted oak, vanilla, cereal grains and a burst of spice.
Overall: I commend Woodford Reserve and their teams for experimenting and releasing these annual Distillery Series. We've been lucky to have some family events tied to the last few releases and have been lucky enough to secure some. My only complaint - some of these are so good, I'd love to see these available in larger numbers to consumers across the country.
Woodford is one of my favorite bourbons; its flavor profile clicks on a lot of levels for me and hits me right. And, I do enjoy their Malt Whiskey, so this expression - leaning heavily on the sweet wood and malt notes - really connects.
After their Chocolate Malt Whisper and Honey Barrel Finish, I wasn't sure their Distillery Series could get better. I'm drinking my words - this one is exceptional and worth a drive along McCracken Pike in Versailles, Kentucky.
When the distillery associate was ringing up our purchase, we were discussing some of the recent Distillery Series releases. She shared with us that this one might just be one of the best yet. I couldn't agree more.