A few weeks ago we told you the story of bourbon. Of how there are more barrels of bourbon ageing in Kentucky than the local population! And the distillery that started it all was on the site of the present day Woodford Reserve Distillery at Versailles, Kentucky in 1812, by Elijah Pepper. It was also here, way back in 1838, that the “Father of Bourbon Whiskey” James Crow perfected the “sour mash” process that is still used in bourbon production today.
A Very Brief History
This oldest distilling site still operating in Kentucky today used to be known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery. Over the centuries, it remained the site for innovations in distilling but it also had a chequered past, including changing owners a few times.
It wasn’t until 1993, when Brown-Forman bought back the very distillery they had sold to a local farmer in the 1970s, that the first new make spirit flowed from its stills. And it wasn’t until 1996 that Kentucky witnessed the official launch of the brand that redefined how the world viewed bourbon – Woodford Reserve.
Woodford Reserve was launched as a super-premium, small-batch bourbon, defying all conventions by choosing to build a modern classic brand from scratch rather than draw on nostalgia. By 1999 it was already the toast of the whiskey world and earned the prestigious title of the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby”. An honour it holds even today.
The Making of Woodford Reserve
· The grains: It is crafted from a recipe of 72% corn (for sweetness), 18% rye (for spice) and 10% malted barley (for nuttiness) to create one of the most flavourful bourbons in the world.
· The water: Its source, located within the distillery, is mineral-rich water that is naturally filtered by the limestone under the property.
· Fermentation: It has one of the longest fermentation processes in the world of bourbon, creating great depth and the bourbon’s complex flavours.
· Distillation: Woodford Reserve gets its flavour profile from a batching process of both a whiskey distilled in pot stills as well as a whiskey distilled in column stills.
· Maturation: The bourbon is matured in new white oak barrels that are crafted, toasted and charred in-house. The filled barrels are aged (on average for just over 7 years) in unique heat-cycled warehouses until matured.
The World of Woodford
A perfectly balanced bourbon with more than 200 detectable flavour notes, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spice, and fruit & floral notes. This is one silky bourbon.
An innovative approach to twice-barrelled bourbon, its process begins with their Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which is matured in new white oak barrels. The bourbon is then matured for a second time in another new barrel which is deeply toasted before a light charring. A smooth, full-bodied bourbon with a long, creamy finish.
The Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection honours the pioneering processes established in the 1830s by owner Oscar Pepper and Master Distiller James Crow. Now in its 15th expression, these limited edition bourbons apply handcrafted methods to unique grain recipes, maturation techniques and distillation styles.
These one-of-a-kind expressions push the creative boundaries of whiskeys to the extreme. Each selection is masterminded by Master Distiller Chris Morris and is available for limited purchase. Some of the past Distillery Series expressions include Sweet Mash Redux 2015, Double Double Oaked 2017 and Brandy Cask Finished Bourbon Blend 2021.
Drinking Woodford Reserve in India
Call us old fashioned but our favourite way to enjoy a dram is in a Glencairn Glass. These high quality crystal glasses are now available with.
While you wait for your glasses, make the most of stone fruit season with this recipe for a smashing Bourbon Peach Punch to brighten up your evenings:
· 45 ml bourbon
· 30 ml pineapple juice
· 20 ml lime juice
· 1 peach in 8 slices
· Black pepper to garnish