Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon

, | February 10, 2020

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.

I always wonder what the gang at Woodford Reserve will come up with when it comes to the new Master Distiller’s edition. Chocolate Malted Rye. Is it a rye? Nope. As the story goes, the rye grain is roasted a bit heavier to bring out the more chocolate notes, but yes this is definitely a bourbon at a percentage of 70% corn.

Historically, this series has been a fun ride. Going back in recent history we’ve seen American Oak/Oat Grain (2018), Cherry Wood Smoked Barley (2017), Brandy Cask Finish (2016), White Corn (2015), Pinot Noir Cask Finish (2014) and Straight Malt/Classic Malt (2013). These passed expressions do say a great deal as to how far the team at Woodford Reserve are interested in going to find something fun. Personally, the journey has been a tad bit hit or miss. But that comes with the territory.

“The rye malt was roasted to a level that its natural sugars caramelized into a dark chocolate note,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris at the time it was released. “This special bourbon even surprised me as it matured in our warehouses. Each time I tasted it, the chocolate notes became even more pronounced.”

Chris Morris knows a lot about bourbon. He began his career back in the day  in 1976 as a trainee in Brown-Forman’s central lab. After the fact, Morris studied under Lincoln Henderson, whom he succeeded in 2003 at Woodford Reserve.

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon (image via Kenji Mizumori/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon

Vital Stats: 90.4 proof, 45.2% ABV with a mash bill of 70% corn, 15% chocolate malted rye, and 15% distiller’s malt. $130 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Reminds one of a cherry lifesaver. Ruby red with oaky undertones.

Nose: Amarena cherry up front, peanut notes, and a hint of amaretto in the background.

Palate: Light bodied, with flavors of chocolate and cherry. This one is absurdly smooth and easy to drink. This is one of those that gets straight to the point. Simple flavors and tasty.

The Takeaway


I’ve been following this series for a while. Sometimes good, sometimes not so much. It’s always interesting for sure. Simply an opinion, this is a tasty bourbon. It is fun, but perhaps not one to be sought after.

User Review
3.09 (11 votes)


Kenji Mizumori

Kenji is a bartender in Portland, Oregon at the Pope House Bourbon Lounge. A bourbon enthusiast for decades. He likes big whiskeys, pretty much anything over 100 proof.