a whisky book from whisky expert Ian Buxton.
Donít make the mistake of asking
directions to Versailles in a European
accent (as I once did). All you get from
the locals are blank looks Ė itís ĎVersalesí!
But when you get there some things at
least will seem familiar Ė especially
the still room.
And thatís because the distinctive pot
stills in which Woodford Reserve is
distilled were manufactured in Rothes,
Scotland and shipped to Kentucky where a
distiller from Scotland taught the
locals how to use them.
Single batch bourbon was, in essence,
the USí answer to the phenomenon of
single malt Scotch and an attempt to
make bourbon, which had acquired a
blue-collar image, chic once again.
Well, itís worked and Woodford Reserve
was one of the first to show that it
could be done.
The parent company, Brown-Forman
Corporation (who also own Jack Daniels),
invested around $14m in restoring the
old Labrot & Graham distillery which
they had owned for 30 years from 1941.
They sold it in 1971 but bought it back
in 1994, turned it into a showpiece, and
re-branded it as Woodford Reserve in
At first the product was actually
another B-F brand, Old Forester, but
today theyíre understandably coy about
that piece of marketing legerdemain. Not
that it matters, the Woodford Reserve
youíre going to drink is the real thing.
The distillery, which is quite
Brown-Formanís pride and joy, is on an
unusual boutique scale (well, for the
USA anyway), and stresses the
contribution to spirit character of its
limestone spring water, cypress
fermentation vessels, small pot stills
and stone warehouses. The result is a
Ian Buxton's Tasting Note For
Colour: Dark honey.
Nose: Vanilla sweetness, honey, fresh
fruits and hints of
Taste: Rich and warming, with layers of
mint, tobacco, leather
and fruit. Smooth and full-bodied. Will
seem sweet to
the European palate.
Finish: Smooth and warming, very
consistent and balanced