Here at Master Quill I’ve explored some Scottish Whiskies and I think it’s time to expand a little. There is a lot more out there and I feel it’s time for me to look into what America is capable of. The journey started for me with a Bourbon, as can be read here. Since I don’t have any Tennesee Whiskies, or even bottles from micro distilleries, I will focus for the time being on Bourbon, with the odd Rye-Whiskey thrown in for good measure.
What is Bourbon you might ask. The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits state that Bourbon must be:
- made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn,
- aged in new, charred-oak barrels,
- distilled to no more than 80% ABV,
- entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 62.5% ABV,
- bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.
It is clear that Bourbon has to be aged, but no one knows for how long. Also there are more rules for a Bourbon to be called Straight, but we’ll get to that another time.
Lets move on to the next candidate. The first Bourbon we will explore is the small batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Woodford Reserve. This bourbon is made by Brown-Forman, but marketed under the name of the previous owners from long long ago: Labrot & Graham. The Distillery was built near Versailles (Kentucky) in 1812, but distilling activities started as early as 1797. Brown-Forman owned this distillery previously from 1940-1960 and now owns it again from 1996 onwards. The first batches were distilled ‘elsewhere’. Whisky is distilled partly in Scottish Pot Stills and partly from Column Stills from their Early Times plant in Shively (Kentucky). Besides this there are also Woodford versions made for the Kentucky Derby at a slightly higher ABV (45.2%, I don’t know if there are more differences, besides the illustrations on the bottle). There is also a small Masters Collection series and now a new Double Oaked version.
Nose: Very Nice. Sweet/creamy character with spicy oak. Candied yellow fruits. Apples (skin), raisins and again some wood. Honey, almonds and cinnamon. Distant smoke.
Taste: Dry, more like spicy rye and spicy wood. Acetone and toast. Toffee and popcorn. Very elegant and nothing is in excess here. First a solvent like and slightly bitter finish, but after that somewhat late; a creamy finish and mouthfeel. And even later than that the toast from the cask. This really unwinds slowly. Still its a bit unbalanced, and thin. I would have bottled this at a higher ABV.
Pretty decent bourbon. But be careful, because for me this isn’t always as nice. Some day I like it more than on others.