Earlier this year I reviewed the inaugural release of Woodford Reserve’s Batch Proof bourbon, a new annual release that is part of the Master’s Collection series. You can read my review of the first release here. This high-proof expression was surprisingly easy-drinking and provided plenty of favor, so I was very excited to see the 2019 release available at the Lounge at Market Square Liquor on Timberland Road for a very reasonable price.
The mashbill for this bourbon is the same as the classic 90.4 proof Woodford Reserve (72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley). The barreling and ageing processes are also the same, but for this expression the barrels are uncut, unfiltered, and batched at barrel strength. There is no age statement on this bottle but I think we can assume that this bottle is aged for at least 7 years, the age of Woodford’s standard release. This release comes in at 123.2 proof (61.6% abv), which is slightly lower than the 2018 release. This is a highly-allocated release so you probably won’t see many bottles of this on the shelf, but if you are lucky enough to find it the retail price should be $130.
Appearance – dark orange amber.
Nose – there is definitely some ethanol present here, but it fades quickly leaving a bouquet of sweet caramel, graham cracker, oak char, dark dried fruit, and some very mild notes of toasted orange peel.
Palate – if you somehow forget that this is a batch proof bourbon, you’ll be reminded as soon as you take a sip! There is definitely heat up front from the proof but it quickly balances with the rye spice, revealing the flavors of classic Woodford vanilla, clove, and some sweet, dark fruit. A few drops of water really softens the burn and ushers in some rich nutty notes (hazelnut) that didn’t initially make it past the proof.
Finish – just like the 2018 release, the finish is long, warm, and flavorful. The alcohol burn lingers for some time, but it does not overpower the flavors of rye spice, oak, and vanilla that transition from the initial presentation. I also found a pronounced dark cherry syrup with an occasional hint of smoky, toasted orange.
Once again, the Woodford Reserve Batch Proof release is a flavorful and relatively easy-drinking high-proof bourbon. Compared to the 2018 release, I thought this bottle had more of a fruit-centered profile with less spice and grain. Further, despite the lower proof on this year’s release, I found myself struggling a little more with the alcohol content this time around. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun working through this pour and really enjoyed all the flavors and nuances it presented. I will plan on revisiting this bottle again soon to see if there is any change as the bottle opens up. As always, let me know what you think of this one!