Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Woodford Reserve, 45.2% abv (90.4 Proof), $30/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Copper

Nose: Wonderfully comforting with butterscotch, toffee, crisp green apple, Christmas mulling spices, lightly dry oak, and barrel. Sweet, rich nuances with bracing freshness.

Palate: Old fashioned butterscotch candy, maplye syrup, buttery popcorn, toasted oak, cinnamon, flinty minerality, and fresh, crisp green apples.

Finish: Moderate length, cinnamon, apple cider, and some bitter oak tannins remain.

Overall: The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I expected it would be considering it’s partially copper pot distilled. Perhaps a higher proof might help that and thus would carry the flavors and drill them home a bit more forcefully. I think with a little more texture, this bourbon would be elevated nicely. But even still, this whiskey has some wonderfully comforting flavors and aromas. I love the really intense butterscotch flavors – perhaps the most pronounced I’ve had with a bourbon. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.5 (Very Good/Excellent)


  1. Hope Boyce says:

    Wow … the description makes me want to try it … not sure I even like Bourbon, but I’m gonna give it a shot.

  2. Well try it mom. You might like it. It might convert you to the dark side.

  3. Ed Maurer says:

    Jason – great site! I had just finished a pour of Woodford Reserve when I saw your review. I went and got a refill to taste along with you.
    I have always thought the whole WR marketing scheme was a bit too high brow for my tastes. Pretty bottle, scenic distillery, horse farms, etc. But the whiskey is certainly good. I won’t buy WR myself, but my wife insists that only WR is good enough for her holiday bourbon balls…so she uses a few ounces and I get the balance.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Ed, thanks for the comment. Woodford is certainly highly marketed and highly mainstream bourbon. You see it in almost every airport bar, every restaurant, etc. etc. But that’s honestly why I reviewed it. It’s important to remember that it’s also a great product. I think it’s built for the masses with it’s sweet notes and balance. But it’s certainly well done.

    As for Bourbon Balls, your wife is right. Someone I converse with a lot on Twitter asked me for a bourbon recommendation for Bourbon balls. My first recommendation was Woodford mostly because of it’s butterscotch notes without being TOO sweet. Smart lady!

    Thanks again!


  5. Chris Gross says:

    Living in Kentucky I’ve had the pleasure of sampling Bourbon Balls (even my Mother-In-Law’s) from all over the state and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Balls are by far the best. When you visit the distillery they pass them out free.

  6. Hope Boyce says:

    Do you have boubon balls on the holiday list?

  7. Ron says:

    Great reviews. I’m a bourbon lover. In fact it’s the only spirit I lie or indulge in! I’m a Kentucky native and live in central KY bourbon country. One of the great things about our state is our wonderful bourbon! I am not yet a conneisseur, just a guy who LOVES my bourbon! There just isn’t any other spirit like it, that can be enjoyed in so many forms! I like sipping my bourbon neat, or in shots, or sometimes in a glass with ice if I am in a social situation. But neat is by far my preference! I’ve tried several, but I find that so far I keep coming back to Knob Creek small batch it is just incredible, strong, pretty complex, and spicy with a LONG finish that lingers. I also love Makers Mark and it is always on hand. I haven’t tried Woodford yet, but I plan on buying a bottle soon. I REFUSE to drink a bourbon less than 90 proof call me a snob but I just need that intense burn along with the flavors for it to do it for me! Keep up your great reviews and come visit us in Ky anytime and keep spreading the word about our bourbon!

  8. David says:

    I would love for you to review one of my favorite budget bourbons, and WR cousin, Old Forester Signature.

    Are you planning a review anytime soon?

  9. David, I hope to get to it some time this year. Cheers!

  10. Jon says:

    Coming to this review a little late but just happened on this wonderful site about a month ago. My impression of WR: A large smack of vanilla at the beginning on the front palate and then a wash of almond across the mid palate with a quick finish leaving one wanting. Candied/ dried Banana is in the background and there is a charred oak, backbone holding it together. I used to love this bourbon but as my palate has grown this has fallen slightly to the wayside. Do you think it is bit out of balanced or disconjugated? Thanks in advance.

  11. Jon, I enjoy Woodford Reserve. Enthusiasts enjoy bashing it, but I think it’s rustic, corny, fruity, and just well done. That said, it’s not uncommon for your likes and dislikes to change.

  12. Arthur says:

    Why somotimes it is 86,4 proof, not 90,4 ?

  13. Arthur, I am not aware that it’s ever been 86.4.

  14. Alec says:

    its thin b/c its triple distilled

  15. Dawn says:

    Jason, We added this to the cabinet over the weekend and so far, the nose of the Woodford Reserve gives me some resemblance to George Dickel #12. The similar nutty, corny and Werther’s candy nose is a delight. The palate leads one in an entirely different direction, with mulling spices and cider and a less syrupy texture than Dickel #12. I think this will fit in well around here, though pours are predictably messy; there’s something weird about the neck/spout/lip design.

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