Ice Ball Review - Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Today, we're reviewing one of our favorite oaky bourbons from Woodford Reserve. As far a Kentucky Straight bourbons go, Woodford Reserve is about as Kentucky as bourbons get. Woodford Reserve has been the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby since 1996, and it even produces a limited-edition bottle each year specifically for the horserace.

The historic Woodford Reserve stone distillery dates back to the mid-1800's and is a classified as a National Landmark. Despite being a major player in the bourbon industry, it is still one of the smallest distilleries you will find Kentucky.

The Woodford Reserve distillery, built in the 1800's

The Woodford Reserve distillery, built in the 1800's

A signature of Woodford Reserve is what they call their "five sources of flavor", wood, grain, sweet aromatics, spice, and fruit & floral. From these "five sources", their distinctive aromas and tastes are born. These five sources also give Woodford Reserve its more nuanced congeners, which include dark fruit and berries, spices (like clove, allspice, and cinnamon), black walnut, vanilla, and caramel.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is exactly what the name suggests. Before bottling, it receives a unique double-barrelling process in which the bourbon is matured in a charred oak barrel, then,  the second maturation is in deeply-toasted lightly charred oak barrels. This process imparts an earthy, robust character while providing deep sweetness and a sweet oak character to the bourbon.  

Aroma: Intense oak, butterscotch, vanilla, tobacco, hints of leather, and pine astringency
Taste: Strong and oaky, slight berry tartness, burnt sugar and peppery spice from the rye content, cloves, caramel sweetness
Finish: Long on the finish, tart tannins, with oak and corn, and lingering caramel sweetness

Verdict: This is one of the most “American” bourbons you will find. Strong on the palate and very bold. We feel that it has a more pronounced flavor that the 90.4 proof would suggest, seeming more like a 100+proof bourbon.

Initially, it comes across as fairly strong on the palate, due to alcohol content and the intense oak and spice. The bourbon really benefits from the slow dilution of the ice ball, permitting you to taste many new flavors as you reach the end of the glass, and the slight chill of the ice ball cooled the “heat” from the proof.

Just like how a Scotch whisky opens up its more delicate flavors with a small amount of water, after adding the slow chill and trace of water from the ice ball, this bourbon's earthy notes, and more subtle congeners guide you to its lingering sweetness, after the initial peppery heat cools down.  It’s a deep bourbon that holds up nicely to strong flavors, including the most potent of cigars. The Double Oaked is about 1½ times the cost of the single-oak version, so unless you are a fan of oak-forward bourbons (which we are), you may enjoy its single-oak sibling more. 

If bold flavors are your cup of tea glass of boubon, then you should definitely grab yourself a bottle of this finely crafted spirit.

Remember to always enjoy responsibly. Cheers.