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flahute

In appreciation of Woodford Reserve

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flahute

Some things come full circle and for me this is one of those things. I've been percolating on this post for a while now and a recent post by my brother Joe prompted me to get off the snide and post this.

 

I've posted in a lot of the "how did you get started?" threads and I've told my story about being a Maker's Mark and Woodford man for about 15 years before discovering the rest of the bourbon world. During this time, Woodford was my "premium" bourbon.

 

Once my eyes were opened by Stagg and Handy and I subsequently branched out to all the major distilleries, Woodford faded. In fact, one of my earliest posts here as a new member was titled "Did Woodford Reserve used to be better?" Woodford fell out of favor for me partly because of what it cost compared to so many of the new bourbons I was discovering.

 

Then the boom happened. Just about everything went up in price but Woodford stayed the same. I've said a few times recently how I think that Woodford is surprisingly becoming a value. Now of course what matters is how it tastes. About 3 years ago I did a "barrel pick" at Woodford which really means a two barrel blend. We tasted 6 single barrels blind and in what was an eye opener for me, the barrels I rated the lowest (and I really, really hated them) were barrels off the pot stills in Versailles. The barrels I loved came off the column stills in Shively. Some of you taste a metallic/copper note in Woodford. That is undoubtedly from the pot stills. I presume that the Woodford I was reacting to when I made that previous post was pot still heavy. 

 

Now, I don't know what's happening with the blend now, but I fly Delta almost exclusively and they serve Woodford and for the past year I have to say that it's been tasting good. Sometimes it tastes fantastic. I ponied up for the Batch Proof special release last year and that is fantastic (though pricey).

 

I've been content for a while now to get my Brown Forman fix from Old Forester products.

My recent experience with Woodford has me on the verge of buying my first Woodford bottle in 7 years. 

Full circle.

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Paddy
Posted (edited)

Steve,

 

As you know (but many of the new folks here may not), all initial Woodford was column still distillate and it was very good.  In fact, it was so good that Lexington (once a Maker's town) quickly became a 'Woodford free zone'!  Once the pot still product had enough age on it, they started blending it in with the column still make from Shively.  Initially, I didn't care for it because it was a discernible change in the product.  Unlike you and I, most folks mixing it with Coke or Sprite probably didn't really notice too much. 

 

To point; I agree with the current assessment, as I think they've currently got the proportions in a good 'zone'.  They also deserve credit for keeping the product on the shelves while also managing to keep the price in check. 

 

When it hit the market, Woodford was a game changer.  They quickly joined Maker's in leading the attainable, yet perceived premium banner toward the boom we are now enjoying.  So yes you've probably circled back, and for good reason.  But, IMO so have they...

Edited by Paddy
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lcpfratn

The Woodford Double Oaked barrel picks from several of my local stores (I participated in one of the picks) the past year or so have been fantastic. In fact, this post just inspired me to have a pour, and it’s like drinking an iced mocha without the ice. I’m getting sweet cream, coffee and chocolate with just the right amount of oak. Mmmm...mmmm...good! If it wasn’t getting so late, and I hadn’t already had a nice pour of a very good RHF, I might have another pour of this Double Oaked! I just hope I have another bottle of this in my stash!

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beasled

It was the first bourbon I tried, I think. I normally pick up a 1l holiday bottle once a year and am always surprised at how good it is (for what it is). Underrated in aficionado circles I think!

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Old Hippie

Thank you for the post on Woodford Reserve. What I admire about them, aside from keeping their pricing in line, is their adherence to heritage. I have spent time with Chris Morris on multiple occasions and he is a great whiskey historian. Consequently his loyalty to traditional methods with using pot stills is part of paying homage to the past. This is a very expensive production method as the main still has to be cleaned after each distillation versus the continuous feeding of a column still. Yes it does impart different flavors and perhaps lighter notes but blended with distillate from the column stills makes for a "Woodford" taste profile - like it or not. I am sure it helps greatly having a monster brand like Jack Daniels to pay the bills.

I also appreciate is innovation as a way to recognize the past. The Straight Malt that was introduced last year stems from the early 1900's when Straight Bourbon, Rye, Malt and Wheat were recognized by a law signed by Taft to differentiate from the crap that rectifiers were putting into the barrels. It is my understanding that there will be a WR Straight Wheat introduced this fall as the fourth of this act.

I still prefer Old Forester as far as BF bourbon goes but have great appreciation for WR. 

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TimeWillTell

I got started with WR. Now I've moved on but don't turn it down if it's offered.  Strongly prefer the OF line if I'm looking for BF stuff. Not a fan of their rye (but I probably need to revisit as its been nearly 2 years since I tried it) but I do greatly enjoy the straight malt as a change of pace option. Looking forward to their straight wheat. 

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alcoholica

Really like the double Oaked WR. Regular WR is just not my thing. Although it wouldn’t hurt to revisit, and I certainly don’t find it offensive. I think it could benefit greatly from a proof bump. 

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TimeWillTell
10 hours ago, flahute said:

Some things come full circle and for me this is one of those things. I've been percolating on this post for a while now and a recent post by my brother Joe prompted me to get off the snide and post this.

 

I've posted in a lot of the "how did you get started?" threads and I've told my story about being a Maker's Mark and Woodford man for about 15 years before discovering the rest of the bourbon world. During this time, Woodford was my "premium" bourbon.

 

Once my eyes were opened by Stagg and Handy and I subsequently branched out to all the major distilleries, Woodford faded. In fact, one of my earliest posts here as a new member was titled "Did Woodford Reserve used to be better?" Woodford fell out of favor for me partly because of what it cost compared to so many of the new bourbons I was discovering.

 

Then the boom happened. Just about everything went up in price but Woodford stayed the same. I've said a few times recently how I think that Woodford is surprisingly becoming a value. Now of course what matters is how it tastes. About 3 years ago I did a "barrel pick" at Woodford which really means a two barrel blend. We tasted 6 single barrels blind and in what was an eye opener for me, the barrels I rated the lowest (and I really, really hated them) were barrels off the pot stills in Versailles. The barrels I loved came off the column stills in Shively. Some of you taste a metallic/copper note in Woodford. That is undoubtedly from the pot stills. I presume that the Woodford I was reacting to when I made that previous post was pot still heavy. 

 

Now, I don't know what's happening with the blend now, but I fly Delta almost exclusively and they serve Woodford and for the past year I have to say that it's been tasting good. Sometimes it tastes fantastic. I ponied up for the Batch Proof special release last year and that is fantastic (though pricey).

 

I've been content for a while now to get my Brown Forman fix from Old Forester products.

My recent experience with Woodford has me on the verge of buying my first Woodford bottle in 7 years. 

Full circle.

One thing I've always been curious about is do we know an approximate percentage of the column still vs pot still components? Like 75% column, 25% pot roughly? I'd guess it couldn't be too much of the pot still distillate given how much less production they seem to have on site at Woodford, and accounting for the fact that they have managed to keep WR available at all times nationwide. 

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FacePlant
Posted (edited)

Most of my adult life I was a scotch drinker. I phrase "adult life" as an after high school/college kid. Back in the early 70's I had plenty of fills with Jack and George, and of course being a TN kid that was expected. And I think drinking was a little more acceptable back then, by younger folk.

It's was about 2000 when I was first introduced to WR. Man, was it good. Being a Scotch drinker I really didn't think Bourbon could impress, but I was very wrong. Maybe ten years later I bought another bottle on sale at my LS, but something was off. It just didn't taste as wonderful. However after buying another and then some different brands I fell in love with Bourbon the way I had in the 70's with Scotch. Looking back it was the Woodford that began this new journey.

Edited by FacePlant

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BottledInBond

I don’t mind the current Woodford at all. The comments about them maintaining the availability and pricing are good ones. My beef with Woodford is that the Masters Collection is, when viewing the whole series, a dumpster fire. Many of the editions have simply not tasted good. The ones that have been drinkable or better, are pretty expensive for what they are. The batch proof has been fairly well received. However, is it better than ECBP or Stagg Jr? Opinions will vary of course. But for the most part you can get at least two bottles of each of those for the price of a bottle of the batch proof, so the value seems pretty questionable. I won’t bother diving down the rabbit hole of the specifics of other editions but clearly I’m in a hard “try before I buy” stance with that line.

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Jazzhead

Gotta admit I haven't had Woodford in years,  while I've enthusiastically indulged in all of the OF Distillers' Row series.    Maybe I should pick up a bottle again sometime.  

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Mako254

Steve,

 

Solid post. I think this probably stands true to many flagship offerings. 

 

I know for me, I’d always keep a bottle of 101 open and recommend it and use it for tastings with friends but for awhile, I rarely poured it—-always reaching for Russsells or Rare Breed to change it up. When word came out a year ago about the fall of 2018 batches being 7-10 years old, I reevaluated and was truly impressed at the quality WT was putting out for their flagship brand. 7-10 yrs, 101 proof for $20-$25 in just about any shop in the country. 

 

Same case can be made for standard Buffalo Trace. 

 

Despite the price increases and disappearnace of age statements and taters clearing shelves of what used to available ‘old reliable ‘ favorites, quality bourbon is still very available and very moderately priced. 

 

Bourbon zen can (generally) be found at your local for abt $25

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Vosgar

Can anyone tell me if the "Approved by Lincoln Henderson" bottles were column stilled vs pot stilled? I have 1 bottle left and those bottles tasted, to me at least, much better than the  subsequent Chris Morris bottles I tried. (I'm fully aware it could just be my mind working on me because there was a change......:wacko:)

 

I do have to say, however, the few times I've had WR recently its been much more to my liking.

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Curtis Reed

Like everyone else, I used to always have a bottle on the shelf. That was what I used to consider “top shelf” bourbon. After a few years of drinking other great bottles I realized its not really there for me anymore. A bit one dimensional. I think the double oaked is interesting, and a butterscotch bomb but too much $$$$.  I did a streaming tasting with Chris Morris on the WR and Double Oaked which was enlightening and a good time, but for the price, Im grabbing WT101, BT, ECSB, OGD114, KC, OF Sig100, EWBIB... just to name a few.  For me, the nose on WR is off putting to me.  I don’t have any shelved now and don’t foresee that changing soon. 

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mbroo5880i

I have always enjoyed Woodford.  Much like Steve, I enjoyed exploring new options and found the relative cost of Woodford to be out of line with other options.  I still periodically enjoy a bottle and it is a go-to bourbon when dining out.  I will say I always perceived the earlier bottles to be slightly better as I presume they came from OF.  However, I have enjoyed my most recent WR bottles.  

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mal00768

I had a bottle of Woodford years ago and it worked just fine in sweet tea. :)

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PaulO

I think I missed out on the all honey barrel OF Woodford.  Mostly I remember the copper penny aftertaste.  Tried it several different times, and was done.  Then, my sister in law gifted me a selection from a liquor store.  This was much better, not amazing, but no metallic aftertaste.

I've gotten quite a few laughs reading reviews of whatever they call their one off odd ball batches.

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flahute
1 hour ago, Vosgar said:

Can anyone tell me if the "Approved by Lincoln Henderson" bottles were column stilled vs pot stilled? I have 1 bottle left and those bottles tasted, to me at least, much better than the  subsequent Chris Morris bottles I tried. (I'm fully aware it could just be my mind working on me because there was a change......:wacko:)

 

I do have to say, however, the few times I've had WR recently its been much more to my liking.

I'm pretty sure those are all column thought I can't say for sure.

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flahute
25 minutes ago, PaulO said:

I've gotten quite a few laughs reading reviews of whatever they call their one off odd ball batches.

Are you referring to the Master's Collection failures?

 

I guess I should have clarified in my original post that I was talking about the base bourbon only and not the complete offerings of the distillery.

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0895

Fine, so tonight at dinner I looked at the menu, thought about this post, and ordered a Woodford. 

It was good. 

My pour had a distinct banana flavor profile that I enjoyed. 

 

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Kyjd75
On 5/20/2019 at 10:12 AM, TimeWillTell said:

One thing I've always been curious about is do we know an approximate percentage of the column still vs pot still components? Like 75% column, 25% pot roughly? I'd guess it couldn't be too much of the pot still distillate given how much less production they seem to have on site at Woodford, and accounting for the fact that they have managed to keep WR available at all times nationwide. 

It has been a while, but the ratio that I was told was 95% column, 5% pot.  Obviously that is subject to change as production and demand has changed, but . . . that is what I was told by someone who should have known at the time.

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Guss West

WR was a whiskey I remembered fondly from over a decade ago. 

I found the last bottle to taste of copper, young juice, and green wood. 

Just not my flavor anymore, I guss, good thing there's hundreds of other options. 

 

Clearly people like it, they can have mine! 

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mosugoji64

That copper penny flavor was something that I enjoyed when I was in the mood for it, but ONLY then. As a result, I never kept a bottle on the shelf. When WRDO came out, I picked up a bottle and enjoyed it, but it also had that copper flavor and took a while to finish the bottle. It wasn't replaced. A couple of years ago, Mrs. Mosugoji and I did a tasting at the distillery just to kick back and enjoy the scenery at WR. The samples we had were much better and more balanced that I remembered. I could see picking up a bottle of WRDO now if a good deal popped up. Not something I'd seek out, but I wouldn't turn it down, either. 

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Old Hippie

SC just received a small allocation of WR Master's Collection Batch Proof. It is 123.2 proof and is stellar. For me, the the Master's Collections have been hit or miss and a bit pricey but this one is spot on and well worth the dollars. 

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BottledInBond
On 6/3/2019 at 7:36 AM, Old Hippie said:

SC just received a small allocation of WR Master's Collection Batch Proof. It is 123.2 proof and is stellar. For me, the the Master's Collections have been hit or miss and a bit pricey but this one is spot on and well worth the dollars. 

Just out of curiosity, besides this Batch Proof, which from this series do you consider to have been hits? I have a hard time thinking of any off hand 

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