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  1. #1
    Administrator in exile
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    BOTM, 7/06: Woodford Reserve

    The re-opening of the Labrot and Graham distillery was an exciting occasion for lovers of Kentucky bourbon. Not only because it was the first "new" distillery opened in recent memory, but also owing to the 3 beautiful copper pot-stills that would be producing more of Kentucky's finest. Initially produced from honey-barrels of Old Forester bourbon brought to Woodford County from Louisville to finish aging, Woodford Reserve was a hit from day one. Fast forward a decade and Woodford Reserve is a constantly evolving product containing both pot-still bourbon distilled on site and bourbon produced in Louisville. Will Woodford Reserve eventually contain 100% pot-still bourbon? That remains to be seen, however what they are doing now seems to be working.

    Join us now in a discussion of Woodford Reserve, both current and previous conjurations.

    Sound off
    Last edited by jeff; 07-05-2006 at 13:36.
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  2. #2
    Novice
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    Jul 2006
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    Northern Illinois
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    7

    Not like it used to be

    My wife purchased Woodford Reserve last week when she saw the Labrot & Graham insignia and remembered the flavor from our tour of the distillery about 10 years ago. One taste and she immediately knew it wasn't the same drink as before; the nectar quality is missing. She absolutely loved the flavor then, but won't be pouring from this new bottle.

    I think it's a decent drink and would serve it to guests but it'll be a long time before we empty this one. (Most of our guests are tee-totalers.)

  3. #3
    Disciple
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    Feb 2005
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    1,674
    I never did get around to ordering the last bottle of the month, but I have seen this on the shelf of at least on shop, so I will be getting a bottle soon. I will get around to ordering the PVW 15.
    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    Jan 2004
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    Saline, MI
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    753
    I have found this bourbon highly variable with time. About 2 years ago I got a bottle that was so bland as to be almost tasteless. Several months later my brother in law brought a bottle around and I approached it skeptically, but found it a decent medium-bodied pour with a pretty fair amount of character. So the jury is still out - my experience suggests that Woodford Reserve is really inconsistent.
    Craig

  5. #5
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2004
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    Chicago
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    295
    I had a bottle from batch 133. It was okay, but never really knocked me over---I figured there were other bourbons I liked better in the same price range, and after finishing that bottle I have not replaced it. The oft-discussed variability of the whiskey from batch to batch is a further disincentive to further experimentation.

    I'm curious whether people who like WR and drink a lot of it still detect a similarity of "house style" with Old Forester now that they are apparently incorporating more of the pot still bourbon in the final product. Last I heard, it was still a secret how much pot still bourbon made up any given batch, but that was a while ago.

  6. #6
    I am away for a couple of weeks, and bought a bottle of Woodford Reserve (batch 211) to be my only drink while I was gone. I figured this would be a good way to immerse myself in a new bourbon, allowing me to fully delve into its treasures. Big mistake.

    This stuff is $26 a bottle for me, vs. $20 for Eagle Rare 10 YO (my personal favorite), $16.99 for ETL and $15.99 for Elijah Craig 12 YO. As my second most expensive bourbon purchase, I was expecting great things.

    It has a medicinal flavor to it that reminds me a bit of the original listerine. I also taste oak, vanilla and a bit of honey & orange. Overall though, this is quite bland compared to the other premium bourbons I have tried. I'd take ETL any day of the week over this stuff, and at a considerable savings too...

    I don't understand the "pot still" comments. If someone would like to enlighten me as to what is supposed to make this stuff special, I'm all ears. This bourbon and its packaging reminds me of the wineries in california who make a big deal about how great their wines are, they have beautiful facilities and charge fabulous prices, but their wines are just mediocre. They sell though, because people will buy the image and don't trust their own palates.

    So, in conclusion my review of WR can be summarized like this: "Big Hat, No Cattle."

    Joel
    "Oh Bother!" said Pooh as he slapped another magazine in his AK-47...

    http://vinesnwines.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward_call_me_Ed
    I never did get around to ordering the last bottle of the month, but I have seen this on the shelf of at least on shop, so I will be getting a bottle soon. I will get around to ordering the PVW 15.
    Ed
    Don't you have something like 114 bottles of bourbon opened right now? I am stunned that you don't have these fairly common pours in your collection...

    Joel
    "Oh Bother!" said Pooh as he slapped another magazine in his AK-47...

    http://vinesnwines.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Guru
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    Dec 2004
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    Northern Kentucky
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    3,425
    I echo the comments that others have made.... this was once a very good pour. Now it's a middle-of-the road bourbon that (through attractive packaging and heavy advertising) is marketed at a premium price.

    The only time I drink it now is when I'm out for drinks and the only alternatives tha bar has are Beam White and MM.
    John B

    "Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons… that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals."

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Sep 2002
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    Toronto, Canada
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    Pot still refers to the distillation equipment used to make part of WR. These are small copper "pots", a trio is used to distill successively the spirit in a traditional, batch process. They are similar to what is used to make single malt whisky in Scotland and cognac in France. Some bourbon is blended in to the aged pot still WR sourced from Brown-Forman's distillery in Louisville, but recent batches seem to stress the pot still component. The Louisville whisky and all other bourbons made today are made in large column stills. This is a different technology that is a newer, more efficient style of production that (to make a long story short) tends to result in a spirit with less "whiskey" (congeneric) character. Originally, all bourbon was made in pot stills although quite early on (mid-later 1800's) early versions of the column still (e.g., the 3-chambered beer still) took over. So part of the appeal of the pot still WR is to see what some bourbon was like when it was made in pots in, say, 1830-1850. Funny you say WR reminds you of Listerine. I recall bourbon historian Mike Veach stating that a pre-Prohibition whiskey he tasted reminded him of dental mouthwash. The whiskey Mike tasted may or may not have been made in a pot still but the analogy is apposite since even column still products before Prohibition tended to be distilled at a relatively low proof, as one obtains today from 2 or 3 runs in a pot still. So the pot still has the aura of authenticity, or an early version of it, and that appeals to many of the cognoscenti here.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 07-05-2006 at 17:59.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    I can answer one question from Jeff's original post for this thread. According to Chris Morris, who is the man in charge, Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select never will be 100% pot still whiskey from the Woodford plant. The reason? That plant can't make enough to meet present, let alone future demand.

    They are, however, committed to releasing limited edition products that come 100% from their pot stills. The first of these was the Four Grain.

    In order to distill a mash in a pot still, which isn't done in Scotland (they screen out the grain solids and distill from an all liquid wash), they came up with a system in which the mash is pumped into the still horizontally, so it kind of spins around the pot down to a drain at the bottom, then back to the pump to be shot in again, until all of the alcohol has been stripped out. This shooting of the mash into the still seems to have a scouring effect. Copper contact is considered good for whiskey, but this just might be too much of a good thing. At any rate, you can really taste the copper in the pot still whiskey.

    Whether you like this taste or don't, it's definitely different.

    Another factor, I think, for some here is that we are used to our super premium American whiskeys being distinguished by age, whereas Woodford is about six years old and even with the temperature controlled warehouses, it just doesn't have the oaky depth of something with ten years or more. In other words, it's just not going to stand up to comparison with a Pappy 15, for example.

    All that said, I have to agree with others here who have said they have enjoyed previous bottles of WR more than they have more recent ones.

 

 

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