Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as 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.
The Kentucky Woodford Reserve rye whiskey (90.4 proof, no age statement) is a relatively new offering from the bourbon maker, launched just this year. With a 53% rye, 14% malt, and 33% corn mash bill, the rye character is noticeable but not articulated quite as emphatically as some other higher-rye spirits.
It’s not Woodford’s first foray into rye. The distillery has reportedly been working with rye since 2006 and released two 100% rye spirits in 2011 under the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection line, but they represented a pretty major departure from the core line and didn’t stick around as a permanent product.
This iteration, on the other hand, feels very much in the bourbon family, with a thicker mouth feel, sweeter corn finish, and smoother flavor profile than many other high-ryes out there.
Color: Medium gold
Nose: Vanilla, oak dresser drawer, wet paint, and a very juicy kind of green apple – almost orange-like.
Palate: Initially on the candy shop side with a kind of toasted marshmallow, Milk Dud-like quality and creamy mouth feel, the rye starts to come through more clearly in the mid-palate with black pepper, cherry pits, and a bit of tobacco/leather segueing to a surprisingly sweet (there’s that corn) finish accompanied by ginger and cinnamon heat as well as a bit of dry sawdust bite.
Overall, this is a tasty whiskey. It’s not going to win awards for its sophistication or complexity, nor is it what I would call a contemplative sipper for late night fireside musings, but at $38 for a 750 ml bottle it’s a nice easygoing dram and I bet it would make a great higher-end cocktail whiskey. Excuse me while I go fix myself a Manhattan.
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Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...