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Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

Review: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon 89.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted May 30, 2018

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, distilled and bottled at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. The folks at Woodford Reserve pride themselves in the manufacture of what they call ‘craft whiskeys’. The Kentucky distillery is apparently located over top of a deep limestone aquifer which contains mineral rich (iron free) limestone water. The fermentation tanks are constructed from cypress which (according to the folks at Woodford Reserve) helps to eliminate unwanted flavours which could arise in a stainless steel fermentation tank. The wash is distilled three times on copper pots stills to a full 158 proof, and the resulting new make is barreled in freshly charred new oak barrels prepared by the distillers own cooperage. The spirit is set down to mature in a temperature controlled warehouse where it is carefully monitored to be bottled when the right flavour characteristic has been achieved.

In the case of the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, the bourbon undergoes a two barreled maturation process. The first portion of the maturation is in what the distillery calls a custom crafted barrel, and the second portion of the maturation is in a deeply toasted (but lightly charred) barrel which imparts a second amount of oak character to their whiskey.

The Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is bottled at 45.2 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle  (4.5/5)

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon is sold in a handsome flask bottle with a nice solid wooden topped cork. Although my photograph makes it appear that the secondary label on the bottom of the bottle is hard to read due to the similar colour to the whiskey inside the bottle, I want to assure you that this is just poor photography. The label is actually very easy to read as the copper font is distinct from the bronze coloured whisky.

The back label describes the double-barreled maturation process which helps to entice the buying decision.

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured the whiskey into my glass it displayed itself as a rich bronze coloured spirit. When I tilted and twirled my glencairn, the bourbon imparted a thickened sheen on the inside of the glass the crest of which very slowly dropped medium-sized leglets back down to the whiskey below. The initial nose featured thick butterscotch, maple and honeycomb, fresh oak and cedar with accents of wood sap, orange peel and vanilla which was very pleasing.

The nose grows richer and richer as I let the glass breathe. What began as orange peel and oak spice moves towards marmalade. Almond scents move with the vanilla to marzipan, and rich dark fruits (raisins and cherries) have come forward with obvious impressions of dark tobacco and less obvious impressions of bittersweet chocolate. The scents and smells are so good that it is hard to stop myself from stealing a sip (oops I just did).

In the Mouth 53.5/60

Woodford Reserve is a bourbon company which likes to revel in the flavour of new oak. I was a little worried when I was taking my first sip, that I would find the Double Oaked version overwhelming with the flavours of wood chips and fresh sap. Fortunately (although I encountered some of that) the bourbon has much more to offer. Although oak and cedar takes the lead with their woody flavours mixed with pungent baking spices (nutmeg and cloves), there is also a nice undercurrent of maple and butterscotch bringing balance to the whiskey. Honeycomb and marmalade are hinted at as is a more obvious impression of marzipan (a merging of almond and vanilla). There is a nice fruitiness underneath with flavours of apple and apricot, and a convergence of menthol and tobacco which reminds me of my Dad’s pipe tobacco.

When I added a spot of ice I noticed some bitter chocolate flavours coming forward which turned to milk chocolate as the ice melted.

In The Throat 13.5/15

The Double Oaked Bourbon has a long finish full of oak and cedar spice which leaves firm impressions of nutmeg and cloves lingering upon the palate after the swallow. A light touch of caramel and maple sweetness lingers within the pungent spice. As I enjoy the final flavours, I notice a light fruitiness of apricot and apples has appeared as well. All in all the exit is extremely satisfying.

The Afterburn 9/10

This is my favourite expression of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I find the balance between the bitter wood flavours and the sweet caramel to be very good and I like the depth or perhaps I should say the overall concentration of flavour profile. I enjoyed the spirit the most with a touch of water rather than ice, and found it was a very good spirit when served as a Julep (see recipe below).

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fell on the same day this year and so I decided to shake up the official drink of the Kentucky derby (The Mint Julep) by adding a little Mexican flavour in the form of Herradura Tequila.

If you want to try this recipe at home, I would suggest going easy on both the tequila and the bitters the first time you make it. It certainly is easier to add a more and re-shake the serving, than it is to try to take some of the aggressive ingredients back.

When you get it right the cocktail is delicious!

The Choco-Mint Julep Shake-up

1 1/4 oz Woodford Reserve Double Oak Bourbon
3/8 oz Herradura Silver Tequila
3/8 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Chocolate-Mint Leaves
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
dash Fees Bothers Chocolate Bitters
Ice
Sparkling Water
Mint Sprig (Mojito mint makes an attractive garnish)

Muddle Mint Leaves in a Mixing Glass with 1 oz of Bourbon
Strain into a Metal Shaker filled with Ice
Add the Tequila and Sugar Syrup
Shake until the outside of the Shaker begins to frost
Pour into your Serving Glass
Complete with Sparkling Water
Garnish with Lime and Mint Leaves

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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