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mythrenegade
07-03-2006, 22:57
I am out of the house for a couple of weeks on business, and I picked up a bottle of Woodford Reserve to drink while I was away. I do not care for this bourbon. I have tried Maker's Mark, Blantons, Elmer T. Lee, Elijah Craig 12 YO, Eagle Rare 10 YO, Knob Creek, Bookers, and Pappy Van Winkel 20 YO.

I like all of those, but this Woodford is missing something. It seems a little weak, even when I drink it neat. The flavor, while smooth, seems very plain to me. It has a bit of a medicinal flavor to it. This is the second most expensive bourbon I have purchased (after the PVW20, didn't buy a bottle of the Blantons or Bookers). Definately not worth the price.

Curious what others think of this pour. I'm pretty disappointed. I expected something great.

Joel

TimmyBoston
07-04-2006, 04:53
There are many fans of Woodford on this forum, but I am not one of them. I'd say it my least favorite of any reasonably high end bourbon. I don't understand its prestige or popularity either. If you're looking for a new purchase, I'd try Van Winkle 12 Lot B or a Black Maple Hill. Happy Hunting.

If you do have a bottle of woodford and do want to drink it so not to waste the money, IMO the most palatable way is to drink it on the rocks with a lemon twist and bruise it (shake it up with ice). Just a suggestion.

BourbonJoe
07-04-2006, 06:39
There are many fans of Woodford on this forum, but I am not one of them.

Me too.
Joe :usflag:

TNbourbon
07-04-2006, 06:52
Woodford Reserve was good early -- look for low batch numbers with Lincoln Henderson's signature -- but quite variable for the past several years. Run a search for titles containing "Woodford Reserve" and you'll get quite a number of returns. Here's one:
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3284&highlight=Woodford+Reserve

jsgorman
07-04-2006, 20:00
I just got back from a bourbon tour and learned quite a bit from the tours and asking the right questions. When Brown Foreman decided to launch the WR brand, they went out of their way to pick the honey barrels from their warehouses. Over time, WR relies on these barrels much less and now uses primarily barrels distilled at the site. On top of all this, they do not rotate their barrels and use a/c and heaters to get consistency across their warehouse.

Adding insult to injury, to learn this information you need to shell out $5 per person as WR is the only distillery that charges for a tour.

Gillman
07-05-2006, 07:09
Anyone with a bottle of WR that isn't to their taste might consider mixing it 50/50 with Old Forester (any proof but 100 won't hurt) or better yet, Birthday Bourbon. That will bring the taste closer to what it was in the earlier bottlings. I still buy WR though because I admire the effort to produce a whiskey mostly from pot stills. I am sure with time the taste profile will be adjusted and finalised as it were, maybe too as some of the inventory gets older they will be able to use older barrels to balance the heavy and full character. In other words I am assuming 8 year old barrels will be softer and less "whiskey-like" (or "congeneric", etc.) than the 4-5 year old barrels and when they have more old ones to use that will allow a batter presentation of the palate. But I like it now and it is good in particular in cocktails. Some modern bourbons are too bland for the classic whiskey drinks but WR is ideal.

Gary

jspero
07-05-2006, 09:53
There are many fans of Woodford on this forum, but I am not one of them.

Me three.

I tried Woodford Reserve over a period of time and just was not impressed at all, particularly when price is factored in. I'd rather have a few bottles of EW 1783.

Jay

OscarV
07-05-2006, 12:54
Yeah, Woodford Reserve has done a good job on the image front.
But the bourbon is just OK,...well actually better than OK, but it should be priced in the Maker's, Turkey, and Craig range.

Have you ever toured their distillery?
I have been to 4 distillery tours, and the whole experience at Woodford was like a stuffy wine snob atmosphire.

Their thing is specialty bottles, Our tour guide almost freaked out when I told him I drank my bottle of the Kentucky Derby 131 bottling. And he got real snotty when I called the unaged bourbon "White Dog",... later in the tour, when it came up again, he sneered at me with "White Dog as you call it." And I wasn't asking questions or diverting him from his little speeches.

Woodford though, in my opinion, is the future of bourbon, more and more everyone will be coping each other and everything will taste the same.

ahh,.......sorry if I got off topic.

Oscar

cowdery
07-05-2006, 15:05
WR does not a/c the warehouses but they do heat them in the winter.

The tour guide who sneered at the term "white dog" was showing his ignorance. That term is used universally, including by the people who run WR.

WR seems to be a love it or hate it proposition. I think some people find the pot still flavor so unfamiliar they reject it, even though pot stills have this romantic appeal.

jburlowski
07-05-2006, 16:14
I think some people find the pot still flavor so unfamiliar they reject it, even though pot stills have this romantic appeal.

I'm not interested in romancing my pour.... I just want great taste.

In my limited experience the pot stills add, at their best, nothing discernable to the best (a la WR) and at their worst, can produce truly awful results (my experience with WR Four-Grain).

I think, for most drinkers, the pot still process is primarily marketing hype.

jsgorman
07-05-2006, 16:19
Chuck,
You know a heck of a lot more than I, but I was told by the tour guide that they can control the temp -- from cooling to heating -- to get 'optimal' aging from their bottles. I didn't inspect their system, and it is very possible that the tour guide was wrong, but he did tell the group that they can heat and cool the warehouse.

Funny thing for me is that it actually made me think less of the place. In fact, most of my tours (Wild Turkey Excluded), left me with a much less romantisized view of the whole bourbon industry.

Frodo
07-05-2006, 16:54
There are many fans of Woodford on this forum, but I am not one of them.

Me as well. Interestingly, in Ontario, $40 could get you Knob Creek, Bakers, Basil Hayden, Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace or Elmer T. Lee. Out of that group, I'd get ETL every time. With ETL (and Bakers) now discontinued, it would be a toss-up to me to get BT, KC or WR with BT leading by a nose.

Not a bad bourbon IMHO but not something I'd go out of my way to get.

cowdery
07-05-2006, 20:51
Chuck,
You know a heck of a lot more than I, but I was told by the tour guide that they can control the temp -- from cooling to heating -- to get 'optimal' aging from their bottles. I didn't inspect their system, and it is very possible that the tour guide was wrong, but he did tell the group that they can heat and cool the warehouse.

Funny thing for me is that it actually made me think less of the place. In fact, most of my tours (Wild Turkey Excluded), left me with a much less romantisized view of the whole bourbon industry.

I know for a fact that they don't artificially cool the warehouse but they do control the temperature by turning the steam heating system on and off. The high temperature in their cycle is 85 degrees fahrenheit, so they are actually adding heat for most of the year. During the hottest part of summer they may "cool" it by opening the windows and running some fans, but that's about it.

It might make you feel a little better about this process to know that it was invented and patented in 1874 by E. H. Taylor, who built those beautiful limestone buildings at Woodford in 1890, so this is actually pretty authentic, old time stuff. The warehouses are very well insulated (unlike the typical steel clad ones) specifically so this process can work. That site, down in that valley, doesn't get the temperature swings some other warehouse sites do, which is why the heat cycling has long been desirable there.

jsgorman
07-05-2006, 21:00
Your description sounds reasonable. The grounds and warehouses are nice -- and the tour guides were very enthusiastic. I think I expected more from such a premium brand.

TimmyBoston
07-05-2006, 22:52
I didn't even know that Woodford was made from Pot still or mostly from pot stills, but I really like Hirsch and that's from pot stills and I don't have anything good to say about Woodford, so I guess for my part I can't blame the pot stills.

Sijan
07-05-2006, 23:40
I know next to nothing about the copper pot stills or how copper interacts with bourbon in a chemical sense, but my impression/wild guess was that perhaps the early batches of Woodford pot-stilled bourbon were leaching a lot of copper out of the stills, but eventually the stills would become 'conditioned' or somehow less able to influence the bourbon, and we might then be able to truly appreciate pot-stilled whiskey. Anyone know anything about this? Am I way off the mark, or will the copper eventually be less pronounced as the stills get 'worn in'?

TimmyBoston
07-06-2006, 00:23
Woodford is the Bourbon of the Month, That's hilarious and we have a post with all these complaints about it.

Sijan, I thought people were saying the earlier batches of WR were better than the current product? So wouldn't the breaking in the stills help the current batches? Hell, what do I know? Or would the copper exposure help the bourbon?

jeff
07-06-2006, 04:35
Woodford is the Bourbon of the Month, That's hilarious and we have a post with all these complaints about it.
Tim and everyone,

The Bourbon of the Month is in no way an official endorsement of a product by Straightbourbon.com, nor is it typically a popularity contest, voting instances aside. What we try to accomplish is informative and provocative discussion focused on a single product at a time. This is not only interesting banter for those involved today, but creates a more complete archive of information for those who follow later. Most of the BOTMs have been chosen because of there relative availablility to most of our members. That obviously won't always be the case as we move forward, but we'll try.

FWIW, the current discussion of WR has already brought up some interesting observations regarding pot-still operation, copper leaching, aging concerns and that, as Chuck pointed out, WR will never be 100% pot-still whiskey.

Sijan
07-06-2006, 11:18
Sijan, I thought people were saying the earlier batches of WR were better than the current product? So wouldn't the breaking in the stills help the current batches? Hell, what do I know? Or would the copper exposure help the bourbon?

The earlier batches of Woodford were not made with the copper pot stills. The whiskey made from the copper pot stills had to age for about 6-7 years before it was ready for bottling. But Brown-Forman needed a product to sell in the meantime, so they made the early batches of Woodford Reserve with honey barrels from Old Forester that had been aged at the Labrot & Graham (now Woodford) Distillery in their last few years.

jeff
07-06-2006, 11:22
And technically, the pot-still bourbon being added to the current WR IS from early runs of the still.

OscarV
07-06-2006, 11:50
E. H. Taylor, who built those beautiful limestone buildings at Woodford in 1890, so this is actually pretty authentic, old time stuff.

Hey Chuck,

I got your DVD "Made And Bottled In Kentucky", and in it you have some great shots of the E.H.Taylor buildings in ruins, I watched it a couple of times before we went to Kentucky on our little Bourbon adventure.
I am still learning the history, but I did not know,(at that time), that WR bought and restored the place, so when we got there it looked familiar and I realised what was done, and I got a little head rush, like stepping back into time.
The grain grinding wheel used as an ornamentle peice atop one of the doors finally gave it away to me, I think you zeroed in on that in the DVD.
It was cool,

Oscar

MarcV
07-06-2006, 11:56
When we toured the distillery there were lots of barrels in storage from before the Brown-Forman purchase and the folks there were (a) apprehensive of the coming changes and, (b) proud of the L&G product.

There were pot stills in operation at the time (1997, I think). If that's when they began using pot stills, where did that building full of barrels come from? And were they kidding us about the pride in their long, long history of bourbon production? I'm sure no expert, but I (and my taste-sensitive wife) were led to believe that their product was entirely local prior to that time.

Sadly, the very thing those people seemed to fear has come to pass. Their name and reputation were used to label an inferior (tastes vary, I realize) product.

It'd be nice to hear from one of those employees from the early 1990s....

TNbourbon
07-06-2006, 12:26
...There were pot stills in operation at the time (1997, I think). If that's when they began using pot stills, where did that building full of barrels come from?...

See here for a brief history of the brand (but not the distillery, which dates back to the mid-1800s).
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=64300&postcount=17

cowdery
07-06-2006, 13:31
When we toured the distillery there were lots of barrels in storage from before the Brown-Forman purchase and the folks there were (a) apprehensive of the coming changes and, (b) proud of the L&G product.

No there weren't. You must have misunderstood something. Brown-Forman closed Labrot and Graham (i.e., Woodford Reserve) in 1964 and sold it. They had owned and operated it for about 20 years at that point, and it was a column still operation.

After 1964, the place was never used again by any of its subsequent owners and fell into ruin. I visited there several times in 1991 and 1992. There was nothing there and the whole place was falling down. There definitely were no barrels of aging whiskey there. You can see plenty of video of what it looked like then in "Made and Bottled in Kentucky."

The official story is that Brown-Forman repurchased the site in 1993 and began its restoration. They installed the pot stills and began production in 1994 and launched Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select (WRDS) in 1996. I remember it a little differently, that they didn't buy it until 1995 and started producing in 1996. I also didn't think they launched Woodford until 1999.

Their timeline probably is right, since they have the records, but I'm repeating what I remember because I am perverse that way, and to show that we all can mis-remember things. The point is, there were no "barrels in storage from before the Brown-Forman purchase," because there was no owner other than Brown-Forman that made any whiskey there.

Anyway, the initial production of WRDS was entirely whiskey from the company's Jefferson County distillery, although the whiskey was partially aged at Woodford. This is still done. In other words, barrels selected for Woodford are moved to the Woodford plant to finish aging there.

The first batch to contain whiskey from both plants was bottled in May of 2003 and bore batch number 90. Every batch since has had at least some whiskey from both plants in it.

As for copper, all bourbon makers seek to put their whiskey into contact with copper. In particular, they want the vapor at the top of the column still to pass over and through as much copper as possible, but both the column still and the doubler are entirely copper on the inside. There is a lot of copper in all bourbon stills.

The difference with the first still at Woodford is that the mash, which is a slurry containing grain solids, is forced against the sides of the still in a way that, I believe, abrades it and introduces copper in a somewhat different way than what happens when it's just vapor interacting chemically with copper surfaces. This is a physical, as opposed to chemical, process.

JeffRenner
07-06-2006, 15:09
Anyone with a bottle of WR that isn't to their taste might consider mixing it 50/50 with Old Forester (any proof but 100 won't hurt) or better yet, Birthday Bourbon.
Great suggestion, Gary. I just amended a pour of WR #152 (gift from brother-in-law that I've managed to kill 80% of in six months)) with about 1/3 OF BiB and it is a definite improvement. Better than either, I might add.

Thanks for the tip, which is no less than I have come to expect from the blending guru of the north.:lol:

Jeff

MarcV
07-06-2006, 15:41
No there weren't. You must have misunderstood something. Brown-Forman closed Labrot and Graham (i.e., Woodford Reserve) in 1964 and sold it. They had owned and operated it for about 20 years at that point, and it was a column still operation.

Thanks for correcting me. There were definitely many, many barrels of aging product in the warehouse when we were there. If they had been shipped in from other distilleries, I wouldn't have known without being told.

What do you suppose we were tasting, and purchasing, in their store? (Aside from the fresh stuff which was going into barrels the day we were there, that is.)

If you are right, Chuck, we were badly misled on the tour (which was free back then) and even the bottles with their Labrot & Graham labels were misleading.

Incidentally, they explained that heat was only added in the coldest winter nights and that proper aging required temperature changes, not constant temperature. Now, with what's been presented here about heating and cooling, I'm beginning to wonder if anything they said could be believed.

Good thing the tour was free; from what I'm learning here, I'd demand a refund!

SBOmarc
07-06-2006, 15:42
As far as I can read, there has rarely been this type of discussion concerning BOTM's. Sooner or later we will run out of pours that are readily available to most. I learn something each and every time these discussions occur. There are currently 2 different threads on the board chewing up WR. For a bourbon that so far most do not count among their fav's, it sure did inspire some very informative and passionate points. That is why I enjoy SB.com.

That and the Chuck Norris jokes.

Gillman
07-06-2006, 15:53
I would propose that ultimately BOTM be extended to American (blended) whiskey, Canadian whisky, vodka and yet more.

Gary

jeff
07-06-2006, 16:12
Vodka? Gary, have you been drinking? :slappin:

cowdery
07-06-2006, 16:24
Vodka? Gary, have you been drinking? :slappin:

From what I can tell, the answer is "everything that isn't nailed down." :slappin: :slappin:

Gillman
07-06-2006, 16:29
I suspect there are many on the board who are not unfamiliar with vodka and other bibulous specialties. To the suggestion I "like it all", I would say rather, I am interested in understanding, and essaying, the wide world of stimulating drinks. Bourbon is and must always be our loadstone but why not consider the many satellite drinks that exist and indeed are related (one way or another) to bourbon?

Gary

SBOmarc
07-06-2006, 16:35
From what I can tell, the answer is "everything that isn't nailed down." :slappin: :slappin:

Now that's funny.

cowdery
07-06-2006, 16:40
What do you suppose we were tasting, and purchasing, in their store? (Aside from the fresh stuff which was going into barrels the day we were there, that is.)

Incidentally, they explained that heat was only added in the coldest winter nights and that proper aging required temperature changes, not constant temperature. Now, with what's been presented here about heating and cooling, I'm beginning to wonder if anything they said could be believed.


In 1997, any bottled whiskey would have been 100% whiskey that was distilled at the Jefferson County plant and mostly aged there, though it may have spent a year in barrels at Woodford and would have been dumped and bottled at Woodford.

Brown-Forman never lied about the source of the whiskey in those early bottlings of WRDS, but they didn't volunteer the information either. If people -- thinking about the aging cycle and knowing when they started distilling there -- asked the question, they were given the true answer.

As for what they told you about the heat cycling, it's possible and in fact likely that they have refined what they've been doing with that over the past decade, so what they are doing now may be somewhat different from what they were doing then. The principle is constant, however. In theory, at least, when whiskey gets below a certain temperature it is essentially dormant. No aging is taking place. That's the theory (there are some who disagree with it). So the idea is to simulate what happens in the summer, where it gets warm then cools off. They don't heat the warehouse continuously, they cycle it, which means heating it to a certain temperature, holding it at that temperature for a time, then turning the heat off, letting it cool down, then repeating the cycle.

In slight defense of the tour guides, I'm sure they get a reasonable amount of training, but they aren't experts, in that they only know what they've been taught, and that percentage of what they've been taught which they have absorbed. It isn't like they are actually involved in the production and also giving tours. Also, what they are taught is simplified so they can understand and remember it, and for the tourists most of whom are going to learn everything they will ever know about whiskey-making on that tour. The person who comes there already knowing something -- anything -- is the exception. Where they get tripped up is when they have a visitor whose knowledge equals or exceeds their own, who asks a question they simply can't answer. As with any situation when that happens, the right response is to say you don't know and, if possible, try to ask someone along the way who might. Instead, though, it's human nature to try to reason out an answer, which they often do incorrectly.

Most of these distilleries, if you ask, will spring a manager or someone else who actually knows something, either to give you a tour or at least spend some time with you to answer questions. If you want to do that it's a good idea to call in advance, but even at the last minute most of them will find someone who can answer questions intelligently for you. For the average tourist, the average tour guide is fine. The information is generally accurate and pitched at the right level.

I'll even make a slight pass at defending WR for charging a modest fee. Being where they are, there are a lot of professional tour companies that primarily give horse farm tours, but occasionally visit other attractions, such as distilleries. Because of its location, WR gets more of this than the others. So here they have busloads full of people, all of whom have paid a pretty penny to the tour operators, coming through and WR gets nothing for it. Since they're hardly making a killing at $5 a head, I think they did it to actually discourage some of the tour operators from casually including them on their itineraries.

hollywood
07-09-2006, 02:10
I agree with TNbourbon's post...those not agreeing with his assessment with the low batch numbers can forward their bottles to me!

gr8erdane
07-10-2006, 21:32
Gary, I'm still waiting for you to get down to a bourbon/rye/canadian/irish/scotch/vodka/rum/gin/tequila vatting complete with tasting notes. Long live the King of Mingling!:bowdown: :slappin: :slappin: :slappin:

Gillman
07-11-2006, 01:10
Haven't quite gone that far Dane, but I have one which mingles mostly bourbon, straight rye, some Canadian, some vodka and some unpeated malt whisky. It is a very good rich whisky. I use it for Manhattans but it is very good neat too. This sounds exotic but Canadian whisky is (or was, some of it) built in a similar fashion by combining a high proof base with corn, rye and or barley whiskies. It's all been done before! And if you added juniper from gin (the non-juniper part is just GNS), that is a flavouring I'd need to consider, i.e., if it can match a whiskey taste. I think it could if the whiskey was light in taste and dry. Some malt whiskies are said to have a juniper-like taste (St. Magdalene for the collectors out there - it doesn't produce any more). Tequila, well, I'm not so sure. Maybe you could blend it with a sweet rich whiskey that was otherwise not too assertive: say 2/3rds Elmer T. Lee and 1/3rd any good reposado? Hombres, let's check it out. :)

Gary

tmas
08-02-2006, 15:55
Woodford Reserve was good early -- look for low batch numbers with Lincoln Henderson's signature -- but quite variable for the past several years. Run a search for titles containing "Woodford Reserve" and you'll get quite a number of returns. Here's one:
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3284&highlight=Woodford+Reserve

Hi Tim, I was wondering how low those batch #'s would be that might represent Woodford in it's earlier more tasty state. I saw a liter bottle today that had Henerson's signature and was from batch #36. Tom V

TNbourbon
08-02-2006, 20:04
Hi Tim, I was wondering how low those batch #'s would be that might represent Woodford in it's earlier more tasty state. I saw a liter bottle today that had Henerson's signature and was from batch #36. Tom V

In the 750ml size, the WR-distilled, copper-pot whiskey began being added at or about Batch 90 (in Fall 2003). Everything before that would be from the barrels plucked out of aging Old Forester whiskey and transferred to Woodford County.

tmas
08-02-2006, 23:05
In the 750ml size, the WR-distilled, copper-pot whiskey began being added at or about Batch 90 (in Fall 2003). Everything before that would be from the barrels plucked out of aging Old Forester whiskey and transferred to Woodford County.

Thanks for that info Tim. Do you happen to know how the batch #s equate to the Old Forester whiskey on the liter size bottles? I'm guessing maybe the liter bottles came later and were numbered differently. It seems whenever I see a WR bottle with a low batch # on it and Henderson's signature it's a liter bottle. Tom V

BourbonJoe
02-04-2007, 07:36
For those members living in Pennsylvania, the PALCB has the Woodford Reserve 750 ml. price reduced $6.00 to $23.00. Not a bad price. Hurry, only good till the end of the month.
Joe :usflag: