Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve 2020 Batch Proof Bourbon

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Brown-Forman. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

From its launch in 1996, Woodford Reserve has always stood for decent bourbon. They don’t let just anyone be official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby! The long fermentation makes it fruity, the Glenn’s Creek water gives a clean finish, the high rye adds spice, the thousands of barrels ensure consistency. The creation of the Master’s Collection has served to burnish that reputation. 

Every drop of Woodford’s Master’s Collection is the product of triple pot distillation. These are also expressions of Master Distiller Chris Morris’ imagination. He took on the role in 2003, and The Master’s Collection began just one year later (and those bottles sold for just $69!).  There’s the batch proof half of the series, and then the late-year experimental offering, which plays with cask finishes and grain bills.

Woodford’s Distillery Series often takes inspiration or extends the metaphor from the Master’s Collection. This is where where the brand gets to dig in even deeper, with experiments like a Five-Malt Whiskey and a Double Double Oaked Bourbon.

The whiskey we’re discussing today is higher octane classic Woodford Reserve, with the identical high-corn mash bill, six-day fermentation and sour mash technique (where a bit of a previous batch is used to jumpstart the new batch’s fermentation – the sourdough starter of spirits). The only change is, well, no proofing down. You get to taste this whiskey as it misspent its youth: full strength.

Woodford Reserve 2020 Batch Proof Bourbon

Woodford Reserve 2020 Batch Proof Bourbon (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve 2020 Batch Proof Bourbon

Vital Stats: This special edition whiskey is made from 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt, and registers 123.6 proof. Find a 750mL bottle in select markets worldwide for $129.99.

Appearance: The liquid is very clear, a rich red-brown like finished cedar that forms fat, slow tears.

Nose: This nose climbs right out of the glass to greet you, banana peel esters that bloom into caramel, ripe peaches and, finally, shortbread.

Palate: Powerful allspice on the attack, this high-proof whiskey is pretty smooth. Toffee and stone-fruit sweet, the chewy flavors quickly give way to tannic dryness on the mid-palate. The finish is swift for something so robust, with medicinal bitterness just lingering on the back palate.

The Takeaway


It’s fascinating to taste Woodford Reserve in its unaltered state. It gives you exactly what you’d expect, the larger than life persona of a familiar favorite.

User Review
3.09 (35 votes)


Cindy Capparelli

In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...