Woodford Reserve’s Oldest Bourbon To Date Part Of Newest Master’s Collection

The Woodford Reserve distillery in Kentucky is known each year for its Master’s Collection releases as its contribution to the fall premium bourbon release cycle. For 2020 the new bottling being offered up is certainly no exception to this, containing within its blend the oldest Woodford whiskey released to date.

The new Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2020 Very Fine Rare Bourbon, according to those behind it, includes liquid from barrels that are 17 years old and date back to 2003, the year current master distiller Chris Morris was named to that role. Morris and assistant master distiller Elizabeth McCall, it is said, had “been holding back the barrels to batch with other barrels for a special release.”

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection 2020 Very Fine Rare Bourbon
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2020 Very Fine Rare Bourbon (image via Woodford Reserve)

“The name Very Fine Rare Bourbon is a nod to the descriptors used by our ancestors to auction highly-aged Bourbon barrel lots,” said Morris in a prepared statement. “While Woodford Reserve will always honor the past, this Master’s Collection is about the present and future.”

This year’s expression marks the 15th release of the Master’s Collection and, starting with this expression, all future ones from this series “will focus on modern innovation by Morris and McCall.” What this specifically means is not entirely clear, but from a bottle design perspective the older shape, made to look like a pot still, is being changed somewhat to reference “the classic and iconic flask-shaped Woodford bottle.”

Also of note for this new release is that this will be the first Master’s to have McCall’s name appear on the bottle hang tag since being named assistant master distiller in 2018.

Plans call for the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2020 Very Fine Rare Bourbon to become available starting this month, bottled at 90.4 proof and priced at around $130 per 750 ml bottle. Official tasting notes are below from the distillery.

  • Color: Burnt Sienna
  • Aroma: Layers of rich oak sweet aromatic notes, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla merge into a cured tobacco character brightened with apple fruit
  • Flavor: Very old oak notes sweetened with honey balanced by a touch of citrus and apple peel and a touch of clove spice
  • Finish:  A long finish of raisin fruit and malty sweetness
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