American By Nino Marchetti / October 9, 2014 The Woodford Reserve bourbon distillery, which I had the pleasure of touring a few years ago, debuts each fall a new bottling for its popular, limited edition Master’s Collection. Last year saw the release of two malt whiskies, and for its upcoming launch in early November for this year it has announced the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish, which “was created by adjusting the whiskey’s fifth source of flavor—maturation.” Woodford Reserve turned once before to the Sonoma-Cutrer winery in California for ex-chardonnay barrels for one of its Master’s Collection releases. This time around it got from the winemakers there used red wine barrels, which had previously aged three unique vintages of the brand’s Burgundian style pinot noir. These barrels were then used by the distillery to finish a batch of its whiskey for its special release. What’s interesting to note about this 45.2% ABV spirit, according to the distillery, is that because industry definitions require that bourbons be aged in new, charred oak barrels, the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish is not technically a bourbon. Rather, it represents the overall direction of the category, one that sees inspiration stemming from ingenuity, passion and creativity. So while it may not be a bourbon, it still is something in the whiskey genre worth taking note of, especially given it will price for around $100 per 750 ml bottle. It marks as well the ninth expression in the Master’s Collection history. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-3is13n9yk] Tasting notes for the rich, deep garnet colored Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish are below from the distillery. Aroma: Bursting with rich red fruit and berry character overlaying a complex sprinkling of spice (cinnamon, clove), oak and dark caramel. Flavor: Warm and fruit forward with notes of cherry, raspberry, blackberry followed by a crisp spiciness and subtle oak sweetness. Finish: Long and warm with lingering fruit and earthy oak character.