Woodford Reserve has released a different Master’s Collection expression every year since 2005, with the first being a Four Grain Bourbon. This year’s release pays homage to Oscar Pepper and Dr. James Crow by using white corn, obviously, instead of yellow. Due to the tools available back in the times of Pepper and Crow, converting the grain starches to sugar was less efficient, so by using the sweeter white corn there was more sugar for the yeast to convert into alcohol.
I’ve been looking forward to this release since I enjoyed last years Sonoma-Cutrer. I saved some cash and put the word out to anyone that found an available bottle that I wanted it. Well, let’s get started.
Distillery: Woodford Reserve Distillery
Mash Bill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley (same as the normal Woodford expression, just with a different color of corn used)
ABV: 45.2% (90.4 proof)
Released: November 2015
Color: Reddish Honey
Nose: Initially it sort of, “stings the nostrils” like the feeling you get while exhaling after some wasabi but, after opening up a bit I do get some unusual sweetness, different from that in a typical Bourbon. I definitely get something a bit floral and then a bit fruity, like the smell from a glass of apple juice. I don’t pick up on any particular wood notes here. It smells young.
Taste: There’s a cinnamon candy heat that develops into that wasabi-like burn in my sinuses. The lack of an age statement and that harshness makes me think this must be a pretty young release. There’s an acidic sweetness like something you might associate with a lemonade that has too much lemon and not enough sugar. I didn’t really find much oakiness here either.
Finish: Hey, have I mentioned that there is a weird relationship with wasabi here? It’s not the flavor, but the burn in your sinuses as you exhale. If you enjoy that sensation this is for you! I also get some warmth deep in my chest so this would make a great flask drink to keep you warm outside during the winter. Luckily for me these things fade relatively quickly. I do get a little honey sweetness toward the very end.
Overall: If you haven’t gathered this has not been my favorite
rubbing alcohol Bourbon. Aside from being really disappointed from a cost point of view I really expected more from the Master’s Collection label. I really wanted to like this and I had built up a bit of hype for it. In a blind tasting I’m sure I would pick this as a bottom shelf bourbon due to the ethanol burn I experienced. I really didn’t get many of the flavors that Woodford claims to get on their site which is too bad because the things they listed sound nice. It’s not my least favorite Bourbon ever but the value aspect makes this… pretty tough to swallow. Ba-dum-tissss.
I’d like to give a special thanks to @fletcher_whiskeydog for giving me the opportunity to review this. Thanks Mr. Whiskey Dog!