Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Brandy Finish - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Finish

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Brandy FinishEditor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Woodford Reserve’s Masters Collection is a series of unique yearly expressions that add an innovative twist to traditional American whiskey categories. Over the last ten years, these releases have run the gamut from American malt expressions to bourbon finished in sugar maple or chardonnay barrels. The 2015 release, for instance, was 1838 Style White Corn, an expression that used the standard Woodford Reserve mash bill, but with sweeter white corn instead of the traditional yellow.

The new release, out in November, is this brandy barrel-finished expression that’s known as Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Finish. It’s mature Woodford Reserve bourbon, finished in ex-brandy barrels. As we noted earlier this fall, the distillery is careful to point out that the additional aging in used barrels means this is technically finished whiskey, not bourbon. As they put it, “brandy, a spirit distilled from wine or fruit, is often aged in oak barrels. Unlike bourbon, brandy does not have the new, charred barrel requirement allowing their barrels to be used multiple times. Therefore, this release is technically not a bourbon but rather a finished whiskey.”

The mash bill here is the typical Woodford Reserve one: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% barley. After the distillery’s standard bourbon aging process, it was finished for two years in brandy barrels. Like their bourbon, it’s bottled at 90.4 proof and set to drop at around $100 a bottle.

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Finish

Color: Deep amber

Nose: Sweet vanilla, milk chocolate, and caramel open the nose, along with rich, sweet fruit like raisin, dried cranberry, and preserved black cherry. A substantial, sort of dry oak note lingers throughout, along with a touch of warm spice.

Palate: There’s more fruit on the palate, but it’s more on the juicy red side—think ripe cherry and plum. Vanilla, honey, and caramel follow, along with nuts, then a nice spicy clove note on the finish. Still fairly oaky, especially on the finish, with a tannic, but not drying mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts:

In plenty of time for the holiday season, this is a warming, comforting whiskey that conjures images of cozy fireplaces and brightly-lit Christmas trees. With its mix of spice and sweet fruit, it also conjures images of a Manhattan, albeit an extravagant one, at $100 a bottle.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Finish is a little on the sweet side for everyday drinking, at least for my taste, but it’s a flavor profile that has a place—I can imagine it would be delicious alongside a fruit-based dessert, or maybe a creme caramel.


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