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Tim F
08-09-2010, 08:16
Hi Folks,

I've been putting together a timeline for Woodford Reserve as part of a distillery profile I'm writing for our site, The Whisky Exchange here in London.

However, before I write it up I thought it'd be a good idea to pass it by to you folks for correction, especially as my sources conflict on a few dates - most importantly, with regards to the exact dates of BF's initial ownership: I have 1940/41 for when they bought it in the first place, but have read varying dates from 1964-1971 for when they sold it the first time. Also, I have been unable to discover when the brand's association with the Derby first began. :smil41df29a15fb35:

Definitive answers gratefully received, and please let me know if I've left out anything particularly crucial as well.

Here's what I've got:

Woodford Reserve
1812 – Distilling begins on site – oldest distillery in Kentucky still operating. (Not continuous). Originally built by Elijah Pepper, who had been distilling in the county since 1797.

1831 – Elijah Pepper dies, business taken over by son Oscar

1833 – Dr. Jim Crow, sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of Bourbon whiskey’ begins work at the distillery, developing over almost thirty years some of the methods that led to legal definitions of ‘straight’ bourbon. Crow is credited with the invention of the sour mash process during this time.

1838 – Present distillery building erected by Oscar Pepper. Soon after, a system of steam pipes installed into stone warehouses to regulate temperature and allow more than one hot-cold cycle per year.

1865 – Oscar Pepper dies

1878 – bought by Leopold Labrot & James Graham, who operated until 1941.

1890 – E. H. Taylor builds limestone warehouses at Woodford

1940/41? – crippled by prohibition, failed to recover after repeal, sold to Brown Forman

1964? – production stops and distillery is closed.

1964/1971? – sold by Brown Forman, site used as farm land

1994 – BF buy back and restore the distillery. Small Forsyth pot stills begin operation. Bourbon is triple distilled. Soon after, a range of experiments begin which will later become the Masters Collection.

1995 – National Register of Historic Places

1996 – Distillery re-opened as tourist destination. First Bourbon sold as Woodford Reserve is released. Honey barrels distilled at Early Times / Old Forester distillery in Shively, Louisville. Later, the barrels distilled at Shively but earmarked for WR are moved to finish ageing at WR before bottling.

2000 – National Historic Landmark. Woodford Reserve VIP bottling introduced.

2003 – Renamed Woodford Reserve Distillery. Distillery visitor centre expanded (Now around 80,000 visitors/year). WR pot-still whiskey is incorporated into the blend for Woodford Reserve. Batches now a blend of WR potstill and bourbon made at Brown-Forman’s distillery in Shively, Louisville.

2005 – First edition of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection released to critical acclaim. Four Grain contains corn, rye, wheat and malt and is first 100% pot-still WR.

2006 – Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson’s retirement means that signature on WR bottles now provided by new MD Chris Morris. 2nd Master’s Collection release is also Four Grain (aged a year longer).

2007 - MC Sonoma-Cutrer wine finish

2008 - MC Sweet Mash

2009 - MC Seasoned Oak finish.

2010 - Report from Charles Cowdery (of this parish) in Whisky Magazine that this year's MC will be a toasted maplewood-finish

Many thanks in advance for your time and the benefit of your expertise. :thankyousign:

wadewood
08-09-2010, 09:02
2005 – First edition of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection released to critical acclaim. Four Grain contains corn, rye, wheat and malt and is first 100% pot-still WR.

? Critical acclaim - by that if you mean after sipping you need to spit out the raw copper penny taste from your mouth from some of the worst bourbon bottled?

The first couple of releases of the Masters Collection were definitely not held to critical acclaim by the majority on this board. Yes, it received some praise in industry, but more for what they were trying to accomplish than how the product actually tasted.

The Sonoma wine finish was moving in the right direction and I enjoyed and purchased the Sweet Mash. I have not tried the Oak finish.

pepcycle
08-09-2010, 09:28
I think that 1998 was the first year that Woodford was the Official Bourbon.

This is from the Brown Forman Website

"Woodford Reserve has served as the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby” for the past 12 years. This year’s Turf Classic race will take place on Saturday, May 1, 2010, in Louisville, Kentucky."

I believe this was published in 2010 but it might be late 2009.

Tim F
08-09-2010, 09:33
? Critical acclaim - by that if you mean after sipping you need to spit out the raw copper penny taste from your mouth from some of the worst bourbon bottled?

The first couple of releases of the Masters Collection were definitely not held to critical acclaim by the majority on this board. Yes, it received some praise in industry, but more for what they were trying to accomplish than how the product actually tasted.

The Sonoma wine finish was moving in the right direction and I enjoyed and purchased the Sweet Mash. I have not tried the Oak finish.

Hmm, I did wonder how that would go down on the board - Never having tasted it myself, I was going on the huge hoo-hah about it over here - Jim Murray gave it 95 points in the Whisky Bible and we sold our allocation in a heartbeat. Wasn't aware until later that you guys had more mixed feelings about it :)

Tim F
08-09-2010, 09:34
I think that 1998 was the first year that Woodford was the Official Bourbon.

This is from the Brown Forman Website

"Woodford Reserve has served as the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby” for the past 12 years. This year’s Turf Classic race will take place on Saturday, May 1, 2010, in Louisville, Kentucky."

I believe this was published in 2010 but it might be late 2009.

Cheers Pepcycle :thankyousign:

bourbonv
08-09-2010, 09:39
James Crow did not invent the sour mash process. It was around for several decades before he came to Kentucky. What he did do is apply scientific methodes to the process and to increase the understanding of what was going on during fermentation and distilling. More importantly, he wrote it down and passed it on to the next generation of distillers. Old Crow whiskey was the bourbon that set the standard for 19th century fine bourbon.

Mike Veach

CorvallisCracker
08-09-2010, 09:56
1994 – BF buy back and restore the distillery. Small Forsyth pot stills begin operation.


Are those the three stills being currently used? Those are "small"?


2005 – First edition of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection released to critical acclaim.

You might want to change that to:

"First edition of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection released. Although well received by Scotch oriented critics such as Jim Murray and John Hansell, most traditional bourbon drinkers were considerably less enthusiastic."



2010 - Report from Charles Cowdery (of this parish) in Whisky Magazine that this year's MC will be a toasted maplewood-finish

The first report of this was by John Hansell, who mentioned it on his blog on July 13. He was asked by B-F to remove it, which he did. On July 16 I found it listed in the Oregon Liquor Control Commision's price list for August, did a Google search, found a cached copy of Hansell's blog article, and reported that here. John restored his article that same day.

Chuck's article was, as far as I know, the first public announcement of the characteristics of the next ten releases of WRMC.

callmeox
08-09-2010, 10:25
Hmm, I did wonder how that would go down on the board - Never having tasted it myself, I was going on the huge hoo-hah about it over here

(snip)


Apparently, hoo-hah has a different meaning in the UK than in the States.

(and a huge one at that)

Joshua
08-09-2010, 10:28
this thread now has my attention.

JohnHansell
08-09-2010, 10:42
[quote=CorvallisCracker;214351]

You might want to change that to:

"First edition of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection released. Although well received by Scotch oriented critics such as Jim Murray and John Hansell, most traditional bourbon drinkers were considerably less enthusiastic."

-------

Actually, I think maybe a better way to describe it is that it was well-received by those who regularly drink both bourbon and scotch. I wouldn't describe myself (or Jim Murray, for that matter, as "Scotch oriented", given that we enjoy all whiskey styles).

And, incidentally, I liked the second release more than the first one. That extra year (and possibly cask selection?) seemed to improve the whisky.

It was a very polarizing whisky, for sure.

cowdery
08-09-2010, 20:44
Tim,

I'm sure Brown-Forman would be happy to fact check it for you. PM me if you need a contact.

Tim F
08-10-2010, 01:53
Ok, having now had an eye-opening visit to urban dictionary, I'd just like to clarify that whole hoo-hah thing:

Noun 1. hoo-hah - a disorderly outburst or tumult; "they were amazed by the furious disturbance they had caused"
Synonyms: commotion, hoo-ha, hurly burly, kerfuffle, to-do, disruption, disturbance
disorder - a disturbance of the peace or of public order
stir, splash - a prominent or sensational but short-lived news event; "he made a great splash and then disappeared"

uproar - a state of commotion and noise and confusion


It's that whole 'two nations divided by a common language' thing isn't it?

Tim F
08-10-2010, 02:03
Many thanks to everyone who has chipped in with help on this. I hadn't previously been aware of just how contentious these Master's Collection editions had been. Clearly John is right to say that they are polarising whiskies.

Tim F
08-10-2010, 04:54
Are those the three stills being currently used? Those are "small"?

If the numbers I have (beer still 2500 litres, spirit still around 6000 litres) are correct, then yes - I'd say that's pretty small. Some Scottish wash stills are 30,000 litres.

pepcycle
08-10-2010, 08:58
Pot Still Envy?

Probably won't make Webster's.

My stills are bigger than yours.

cowdery
08-10-2010, 10:59
The beer still at Woodford is 2,500 gallons and the two spirit stills are 1,650 gallons each. In my recent WHISKY Magazine story I said litres for the beer still, which was wrong. It's all in gallons.

CorvallisCracker
08-10-2010, 12:29
Actually, I think maybe a better way to describe it is that it was well-received by those who regularly drink both bourbon and scotch. I wouldn't describe myself (or Jim Murray, for that matter, as "Scotch oriented", given that we enjoy all whiskey styles).


But John, you are the Malt Advocate. :lol:

As for Mr. Murray, 80% of his "Whisky Bible" is devoted to Scotch, with entries for every obscure expression from every distiller. The Bourbon section misses entire brands (Ezra Brooks, for example) and is spotty on a lot of annual releases. Plus there's that irksome entry for PVW 15 where he goes on and on about the intensity of the rye, which I can only attribute to a nose and palate ruined by the ingestion of too much Islay malt. :skep:

Then there's dear old Paul Pacult, who although he didn't give as high a rating to the WR4G as you or Mr. Murray, still liked it. Paul got on my bad side with his statement, "Highland Park 18yo is the best whisky in the world." Although HP18 is my favorite SMS (of the two dozen or so I've sampled), it doesn't deserve the title of "best whisky". That's like saying that the Golden Delicious apple is the "best fruit". Try making a Harvey Wallbanger with apple juice, or a banana split with an apple. :rolleyes:

So my statement was based on positve reviews of the WR4G from three reviewers who, from where I sit, appear to have a leaning in the direction of Scotch. This is not to say that none of you don't like Bourbon, because I know that you all do (Jim was quite enthusiastic about that PVW 15 :slappin:).

Just curious: If you were shipwrecked on a desert isle with a case of whisky, what would you like it to be? I recollect seeing an interview with Chuck where he answered that question (VVOF). As for me it would be 2009 GTS, but that partly reflects my practical side (the high proof would allow stretching it a lot further).

(sorry to go so far off-topic on your thread, Tim)