The folks at Woodford Reserve have never been content to rest on their laurels. Since 1995, they have released their whiskey experiments to the world as part of the Master’s Collection. And on a recent trip to the Woodford Reserve Distillery, we were introduced to the eighth addition to the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: malt whiskey.
The Double Malt Selections (Straight Malt and Classic Malt) mark the first time a large-scale distiller in Kentucky has released a malt whiskey since Prohibition. They’re also the first to be triple distilled in copper pot stills, as is the case with all Woodford expressions. The hallmark of each new Master’s Collection expression is the way in which Master Distiller Chris Morris varies one of the five sources of flavor (grain, water, fermentation, distillation, maturation). These malt whiskeys display a variation in grain and maturation as the Straight Malt is matured in new American oak casks, and the Classic Malt is matured in used casks.
Morris says the hope with these new expressions is to help make the bourbon drinking experience more sophisticated, much like drinking a fine cognac.
Straight Malt Tasting Notes
The Woodford Reserve Straight Malt is a very smooth drinking whiskey. There’s a nutty quality on the nose with peanut and hazelnut notes. Upon tasting you get brown sugar, cloves and spice, plus some fudge notes which adds to the rich smoothness. You’re left with a long, satisfying finish and a creamier mouth feel than the Classic Malt. This is meant to be enjoyed neat, or with a simple drop of water.
The always-fun Woodford Reserve flavor wheel, prepared by chef Ouita Michel, aids in showcasing the Straight Malt’s multitude of flavors. When paired with an orange slice, the malt mellows, while a bite of orange zest brings out more spice. Fresh blackberries work with the aged wood and malt to bring out a maple syrup pancake flavor.
Classic Malt Tasting Notes
From the second you nose a glass of Woodford Reserve Classic Malt, you can pick up lots of oats and malted barley aromas. The color of the liquid is lighter than that of the Straight Malt due to its being aged in a used barrel. There’s a fresh, buttery bread taste with a warm, malty finish.
A spoonful of local Kentucky honey brings out a sweeter flavor profile. When paired with a sip of malted milk, you get a raw nut character from the malt. A chocolate covered cherry reveals more spice and more of that new oak character from the barrel.
The Straight Malt and the Classic Malt are distinctively different tasting experiences, to be sure. Experiences that will likely appeal to the scotch dinker, bourbon drinker and whiskey collector. The Double Malt Selections will be available in limited release on November 1. Both are 90.4 proof and will retail for $99.99.