The Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection started back in 2006 and was intended to be a line of products honoring the work of the distillery’s owner in the late 1800’s, Oscar Pepper, and their Master Distiller, James Crow, by applying their pioneering, handcrafted methods to a variety of grain recipes, fermentation styles, and maturation processes to create a range of unique whiskeys.
The Batch Proof expression was first released in April 2018 and, according to the distillery, is aimed at celebrating “the flavor nuances contributed through a change in the finishing presentation.” The Batch Proof Bourbon is crafted using the same grain bill and process as Woodford Reserve Bourbon, so it provides a unique twist on the traditional Woodford oak and sweet vanilla flavor profile.
The mashbill for this bourbon consists of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. There is no age statement on this bottle but I think it is safe to assume that this bottle is aged in excess of 7 years, the age of the classic Woodford bourbon. This bourbon comes in at 125.8 proof (62.9% abv). This bottle retails for $130.
Appearance – dark, reddish copper.
Nose – the nose is complex and inviting. Despite the high proof, there is almost no alcohol. It presents with layers of sweet vanilla, toasted oak, and dark cherry, and then opens up to roasted pecans, some baking spice, and light coconut. Take your time with this one!
Palate – this bourbon is surprisingly soft on the palate for 125 proof but it leaves a nice mouthfeel. Initially, you are greeted with dry, astringent vanilla along with the traditional Woodford heavy oak, but it quickly develops the sweetness and flavor of rich cherry cola. The baking spices remain and there is a very mild burn, although it balances nicely with the rye spice that develops throughout the sip.
Finish – the finish is long, warm, and flavorful. The alcohol burn and rye spice linger, but a soft and pleasant smokiness develops along with the notes of toasted oak. There are also notes of brown sugar, baking spice (mainly cinnamon and nutmeg), vanilla bean, and leather. The finish is quite dry.
This is a flavorful and very easy-drinking batch proof bourbon. The layers of flavor are well-defined and complex, and they almost make you forget that you are drinking a 125 proof bourbon! At times I found this bourbon to be a little on the dry side, but I ultimately enjoyed working through this pour. This is definitely a bourbon that you should spend some time with, especially if you are a fan of the traditional Woodford flavor profile. The price tag is a little high, especially when comparing this to other similar batch proof offerings, but I do recommend giving this bottle a try if you can find it.
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