Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection

It’s Whisky Wednesday and after already participating in the Blind Tasting Experience by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I’m on dram number two for the day. Not that that’s a punishment though, let’s just say it’s all in a day’s work for a whisky blogger haha. That previous dram did put me in a very good mood for another review though and I decided to pull out something special. I still had a sample that I got from Norbert (from Whisky4all), of this Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection editions No. 16. And according to Norbert I’m in for a treat.

Starting with this 2020 edition, the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection will honour the past, while at the same time focussing on innovation. The collection will be a celebration of present and future. A very special detail about this bourbon is that it includes some 17-year-old stock. Which means it originates from 2003, when Chris Morris became Master Distiller. And thus, after I pour myself a glass, I will raise it to honour his legacy at the distillery.

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Ltd. Edition No. 16 (2020)
Stats:

ABV: 45,2% (90,4proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Woodford Reserve Distillery

Owned by: Brown Forman

Category: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Chill-Filtered: Paper Filtered only.

Setting:

As stated before, I’m already one whisky in and later on I will have a couple more drams to go as I’m also doing some YouTube reviews today. Why combine that all in one day, you might ask? Well, I’m in an excellent whisky mood and my palate seemed to be on point this morning. So, what better time to pour myself a view more drams to enjoy? For those worrying I’m going to get drunk on YouTube, no worries though. The measures I’m pouring into my Glencairn are all 2cl or less.

Nose:

The fact that there’s some older barrels in this dram shows up immediately on the nose. There’s plenty of darker notes that accompany the familiar sweet scents of bourbon. Yes, there is still plenty of brown sugar, vanilla and molasses. But there’s also pine resin, maple syrup, charred wood chips and some bracken. There’s leather upholstery and old wooden furniture. And all those flavours combined paint a picture of stepping into an old Victorian home, to join the residents for a maple syrup pancake breakfast.

Palate:

The palate is a beautiful continuation of the nose, but this time around it’s even more balanced. The first sip brought forth an intense trip down memory lane for me, as it put me right back in our old summer holiday home. Or I should say, my grandparents old summer holiday home. My grandfather was extremely good at woodworking, and he used to build entire bungalows as a hobby. His favourite one was the one in Vledder Drenthe, and for the summer my parents, my sister, and I got to stay there for 4 weeks each year. Every year he would apply a fresh layer of varnish which made it a thing of beauty as it stood there in the middle of the woods.

This Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection brings me right back to that place, because it reminds me of pine forests. It reminds me of the maple syrup pancakes we had for breakfast. But it also reminds me of the smell of dirt under your feet, as I used to run around barefoot all day. It reminds me brown sugar in a cup of tea, and molasses on a piece of rye bread. It reminds me of summers as a child and it does so intensely. Because all the flavours are so well balanced, and nothing overwhelms. Allowing you to really explore the story this whiskey can tell.

Finish:

This whiskey will last you a while, as it lingers around for a very very long time after you take a sip. Notes of liquorice root, molasses, pine resin, and rye bread all seem to work in perfect harmony. It doesn’t evolve and it hardly loses strength until the very end. It simply provides a wonderful taste and sensation. Lingering like the heat of a fireplace as the last blocks of wood still smoulder.

Verdict:

This dram was simply too good as it stands, to add any water to it. Usually, I will always try a drop or two, but this one is so intensely good as is, that I would just be afraid of ruining it. If you’re on the fence about bourbon because of its well-known sweetness. Give this one a try if you have the chance. Those quintessential bourbon flavours are still there, but it’s so beautifully balanced and complex.

This is one I can recommend highly to anyone. It’s just a shame that it might be very hard to get your hands on. I believe that when these bottles are released, they cost about a 130 euro retail here in The Netherlands. And though that might seem like a hefty price tag, it still a very good price to quality ratio in my opinion. Nonetheless, I won’t be giving this a Value rating. As I don’t think it’s available anymore and the prices on the secondary market are to unreliable for me to put a figure on it. Still, if you can get your hands on it for roughly its retail price, I’d say go for it!

Rating:

93/100

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