Woodford Reserve Four Wood Masters Collection Bourbon
By: Fork & Stave
Proof: 94.4 Proof (47.2% ABV)
This review looks at the Four Wood Master’s Collection release from Woodford Reserve. The purpose behind the Masters Collection is to create a special product by varying one of the five sources of flavor: water, grain, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Woodford Reserve Four Wood Selection is crafted from a unique batching of bourbon, matured in American oak, that has been finished in barrels made from maple, sherry, and port wood.
According to Woodford Reserve, each finishing barrel was selected to impart distintive traits. The maple wood to bring in flavors of maple syrup and spice, the oloroso sherry barrels for walnut and caramel notes, and the ruby port barrels for rich berry fruit flavors.
After reading the background on this release, I was excited to try it and experience the various “balanced flavors” that come from playing with the finishing of this whiskey. I have to agree with Brad at Thirsty South that this whiskey feels anything but balanced. For more on that, let’s go to the review.
Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I tasted this bourbon neat. It’s got a nice, dark color in the glass.
Nose: Toffee, oak, cherry, and maple syrup with hints of brown sugar. From the maple and fruit scents, I actually expected some sweetness in the first sip, but I was wrong.
First Sip: I immediately noticed oak, leather, and spice with toasted nutmeg and Mexican vanilla. It feels like the flavors imparted from the different finishing barrels are vying for control of your pallet. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I did not care for this part of the experience with the Four Wood.
Mouth Feel: The mouth feel is smooth and coating, keeping the spice and oak notes around for the finish.
Finish: The finish is spicy and warm with notes of cinnamon. I’m left with a good bit of oak aftertaste.
Summary: I’ve said before that I applaud experimentation with different finishing methods for bourbon. I enjoy knowing that I’m about to taste something that a master distiller felt was so good that he or she had to share it with whiskey drinkers everywhere. Woodford Reserve Four Wood has several nice components, but they never come together to form a complete expression. Woodford Reserve falls short of the Masters Collection mark, for me, with this offering. At $90+ for a bottle, I think buyers should be aware that it may not deliver what they expect.