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  1. #1
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    Woodford Reserve Timeline

    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.

    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.

  2. #2
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F View Post
    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.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    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.
    Colonel Ed
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006

    Comissioned by Paul Patton, 1999

    "It ain't the booze that brings me in here, it's the solace it distills"

  4. #4
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    ? 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

  5. #5
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    Thumbs up Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    Quote Originally Posted by pepcycle View Post
    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

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Sep 2003
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    Louisville, Ky.
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    722

    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    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

  7. #7
    Irreverent One
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F View Post
    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"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F View Post
    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."

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F View Post
    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.
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  8. #8
    Trippah and Admin
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F View Post
    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)
    My name is Joel Goodson. I deal in human fulfillment.
    I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?

  9. #9
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    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    this thread now has my attention.
    "So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey"

  10. #10
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    169

    Re: Woodford Reserve Timeline

    [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.
    Publisher and Editor of Whisky Advocate magazine.

 

 

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