Woodford Reserve Malt Whiskey

Woodford Reserve just did something very interesting, on the verge of awesome. For this year’s Master’s Collection release, they introduced TWO malt whiskeys – one aged in charred new oak (as is typical of bourbon), one in used (as is typical of Scotch). That’s right, these are malt whiskeys, which is highly unusual in the US and basically unheard of in Kentucky. AND they offer the chance to experience the difference that used vs. new barrels have on that malt whiskey. Word on the street is that these are roughly 9 years old, which is a good amount of time to let the two approaches show their stuff – but there’s no age statement on the bottles.

While I haven’t loved some of the previous Woodford Master’s Collection releases, this one definitely had me intrigued. Both of these are made from a 100% malted barley mash. Both are triple distilled in Woodford Reserve’s copper pot stills. Both are bottled at 90.4 proof. Both are aged around the same as regular Woodford Reserve, 6-8 years. In fact, per Woodford, the two “are only one week apart in age in the barrel.” It’s only the nature of the barrels used for aging that distinguishes the two.

As for the the labeling on these two – I find it confusing as heck. One is labeled as “classic malt” and the other as “straight malt” – do you have any idea what that means? I sure don’t. Do either of those names do anything to convey the difference in barrel aging? Nope. Do either of them lead you to believe that the whiskey in the two bottles actually started off the same before going into barrels? Nope.

Luckily, once you have both of these in front of you, a quick glance or a quick sniff tells you all you need to know about which one saw time in new oak vs. used. They are like night and day. And that’s the thing that just might hook whiskey enthusiasts out there into dropping a hundred bucks each for these two bottles. (Full disclosure: I was sent tasting samples from the distillery.) So, how are they? Full tasting notes on ThirstySouth.com.

Woodford Reserve Straight Classic Malt