VERSAILLES — Woodford Reserve is launching a "Distillery" series that will include small-batch bourbons and other whiskeys available only to visitors who make the trek to Woodford County.
"We like to think of the Distillery Series as a reward for Kentucky Bourbon Trail visitors," master distiller Chris Morris said at a recent preview tasting.
The series will also be available soon to select retailers in Kentucky, too, but you can get it first in the gift shop.
Brown-Forman plans as many as six releases a year, Morris said, beginning with two in the gift shop now: Double Double Oaked and Sweet Mash Redux. In early fall, Woodford will add another release — Five Malt, a malt whisky.
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And unlike the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection, which includes only one-time releases, "if people like these, we'll make them again," Morris said. "This is fun, a celebration of creativity."
The Distillery series will retail for $50 for a 375-mL bottle; all will be bottled at 90.4 proof.
Double Double Oaked is a deeper, darker version of Woodford Reserve's popular Double Oaked, which is finished in a second long-toasted barrel to give the bourbon extra exposure to caramelized wood sugars.
Unlike other finished whiskeys that pick up flavors from port or wine or other spirit barrels, "Double Oaked is the only whiskey in the world matured in two barrels made especially for it, in barrels made by the Brown-Forman cooperage," Morris said.
Double Double Oaked is in the second barrel for two years, Morris said. That's twice as long as regular Double Oaked, giving it a drier, smokier complexity with notes of bitter chocolate and dried cherries.
Morris said it is intended to be a dessert bourbon, sipped neat or over ice.
The second new release, Sweet Mash Redux, is a variant on regular Woodford Reserve, a traditional sour mash that uses a little bit of the previous cooked mash to make the next batch more acidic.
Sweet Mash doesn't do that, creating a different environment for the yeast and changing the flavors the yeast produce. The result is a bourbon with more notes of caramel, apple and spice, along with toasted and soft oak.
"That, to me, is a cinnamon apple Pop-Tart," Morris said, nosing and sipping a glass of Sweet Mash Redux.