Woodford Reserve Batch Strength, or how Brown Forman totally met my Double Dog Dare to put out a cask strength bourbon

Last fall, I reviewed Old Forester’s Prohibition Style Bourbon, which is very good. At the end of the review I remonstrated:

“But Brown Forman I have a bone to pick with you. You make and char your own barrels which no other distiller does anymore. You know how to make really good bourbon with oak notes and toasted sugars and baking spices. You’ve hit two home runs lately in my book; the Old Forester 1920 and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Just absolutely excellent bourbons. However, even though the 1920 is 115 proof and excellent, when are you going to put out a cask strength unfiltered bourbon so we can really taste the art of your bourbon making?  It’s like you are afraid it is going to suck. I just want to say I really think you can do it!  Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam (inclusive of Maker’s), Wild Turkey, Willett, and even Bulleit (Diageo) all put out Cask Strength unfiltered bourbons that are all amazing.

Comon’ Brown Forman. Bring on the Old Forester or Woodford Reserve Cask Strength! Comon. Show us what you can do.

Dammit, I have drunk enough of your product across my whole life that you owe me this, especially for that one liter bottle of Lem Motlow which was Jack Daniel’s aged less than a year that really threw me for a loop Freshman year.”

Well, Brown Forman apparently heard me. First, they came out with a Jack Daniel’s Barrel Strength whiskey that was a delight. Now, Brown Forman took it up another notch with a new Master’s Collection “Batch Proof” release of Woodford Reserve.

I picked up the bottle today, this 125.8 Proof bourbon that by all reports should be an oak monster.

By way of a little background for those that aren’t bourbon dorks like me, Chris Morris is the master distiller at both Old Forester and Woodford Reserve which are owned by Brown Forman, who owns Jack Daniel’s. Woodford Reserve was initially honey barrels of Old Forester until the pot stilled stocks at Labrot & Graham (now Woodford Reserve) in Woodford County Kentucky came of age. Woodford is currently a blend of whiskey made at Old Forester in Louisville and pot stilled whiskey made at Woodford Reserve.

Anyway, I wanted to try a cask strength Chris Morris bourbon. Now I can.

The color on this is beautiful red mahogany. Deep rich beautiful color. Lovely wood sugars, molasses, dark fruits, and a hint of baking spice on the nose. Palate is more of those lovely wood sugars, dark cherries, baking spice, dark chocolate, and lovely oak. Finish is lingering dark fruits, cherries and raisins, oak and spice that goes on and on and on.

This really is Woodford Reserve, particularly Double Oaked,taken to it’s logical conclusion. Yes, it’s worth the $130 a bottle. Just delicious and to me it’s on the level with other limited release bourbons, particularly cask strength bourbons. This also blows Old Forester Birthday Bourbon out of the water.

Really glad I got to experience this bourbon. Damn. I knew Chris Morris could do this. It’s why I kept calling him out.

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