Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Frosty Four Wood - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Frosty Four Wood

Woodford Reserve Frosty Four WoodEditor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

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Master of special releases, Woodford Reserve’s ode to the 2013 “Polar Vortex,” Frosty Four Wood, is a unique spin on what we’ve come to expect from the Kentucky behemoth. Originally slated to be released as a part of Woodford’s Four Wood expression, Frosty Four Wood was taken a step further in the aging process due to exposure to “record-low temperatures during the 2013 Polar Vortex, resulting in flocking, or mineral precipitation. Filtration techniques produced a more fruit-forward whiskey with maple hints.”

The interaction of an already complex whiskey with extreme weather conditions not only adds significant interest to the story of the whiskey, but also adds to its flavor and character, as climate plays a major role in whiskey’s interaction with its barrel.

Take, for example, the story of Buffalo Trace’s E. H. Taylor expression that survived a tornado in 2006. E. H. Taylor, Jr. Warehouse C Tornado Surviving whiskey is a release that survived a tornado. The rickhouse in which it was stored lost its roof and one wall, and the barrels within were exposed to the elements for months before the building was repaired, undeniably altering its flavor profile. The whiskey has since skyrocketed in value and legend. The few bottles left floating around the internet are currently going for upwards of $1,000.

While Frosty Four Wood is arguably not on the same level in terms of popularity or demand, it certainly fits into a small group of whiskies that cannot be replicated. While the demand for these totally unique expressions is mostly due to hype and “I only want it because I can’t have it” syndrome, there are arguments to be made for these expressions testing our beliefs about terroir, storytelling, and the mythology of whiskey.

What if we could replicate a tornado scenario, or a cold shock— would the whiskey turn out the same (holding all other factors constant), or does the story surrounding the incident add irreplacable appeal? What happens when you take the story of whiskey away? Does it taste as good, feel as satisfying, or quench our thirst as well?

These are questions that I cannot begin to answer here; I can, however, describe my experience tasting through Frosty Four Wood.

Woodford Reserve Frosty Four Wood is a non-age statement blend of bourbon initially aged in American oak, followed by finishing in Oloroso sherry wood, ruby port wood, and maple wood. What this breaks down to is 25% new oak, 50% port, 17% sherry, and 8% maple. This sounds like a delicious combination right off the bat. This 2015 release sits at 42.5% ABV and is a distillery only release, so if you want a bottle you’ll need to visit Woodford Reserve.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Frosty Four Wood’s deep red-tinted amber hints at its multi-faceted finish.

Nose: Chalk and heavy ash hit first on the nose.After opening, the ash leads to a very meaty, leathery nose: toffee, burnt Demerara sugar, toasted corn, and Amarena cherries in syrup. Cigar ash finishes.

Palate: Taking a cue from the nose, the palate is filled with savory notes up front. Cornbread and Amarena cherries follow through. Beef jerky, tanning hide, and warm leather define the palate. Savory, but not too salty, the whiskey transforms mid-palate to semisweet chocolate and freshly rolled cigars. The palate remains incredibly earthy and savory, with just enough sweetness to round it out.

Conclusion:

Rarely are there drams such as this that have a balance of sweet and savory without also having considerable salty or tannic elements. The finish feels reflective, with lingering warm leather and sweetness rounding out. Altogether, I was very pleased with this whiskey.

I tasted this whisky prior to doing extensive research on it, as is my practice, so I was unaware of its weather-driven backstory before my initial tasting. That said, even without its story, I would absolutely drink Frosty Four Wood again.

FINAL SCORE: 93/100