Woodford Reserve Derby bottle 2022

The Woodford Derby 2022 bottle is revealed!

Woodford Reserve Derby bottle 2022
And we’re off! For Derby 2022. | Courtesy

March is finally here, which means Louisvillians can brace themselves for warmer weather, two chances to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and a looming countdown to the Kentucky Derby, even though we’re still 68 days away. The first news out of the gate: Woodford Reserve has revealed its special Derby 2022 bottle.

This year’s fancy bottle features the artwork of Kentucky native Jaime Corum, an equine artist known for her horse portraits. The painting on the bottle, titled “Dreams in Bloom,” features three thoroughbreds racing neck-and-neck, surrounded by a vivid spring flowers, including the iconic red roses of Derby.

Woodford Reserve Derby bottle 2022

“The attention to detail in Jaime’s artwork is remarkable — and so realistic,” said Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris in a news release. “This year’s bottle celebrating the 148th Kentucky Derby will make a gorgeous addition to anyone’s bar.”

So how do you get the bottle for your bar and/or impending Derby party? Well, you can pre-order your bottle now at ReserveBar if you don’t live in Kentucky, but if you do, it should be available wherever you buy booze later this month.

Unlike most other limited-edition bottles, these tend to hang around a while, so no need to rush out or stand in line. The 1-liter bottle is priced at $49.99.

Woodford has released special Derby bottles since 1999. I think the oldest one in my personal collection is 2007, but I’m not really trying to collect them due to increasingly limited shelf space. Occupational hazard, I suppose.

Woodford Double Double Oaked

Woodford Double Double Oaked hits gift shop on Feb. 1, plus a lottery

We’ve got two chances to score a bottle of the highly sought-after annual release of Woodford Reserve Double Double Oaked, so let’s hope we’re extra lucky this year! So far I have one bottle from each year they’ve come out, so I am determined!

First up, you can head to the Woodford distillery on Tuesday, Feb. 1, where they will be for sale (limit 2 per person) starting at 10 a.m. Chances are, people will camp out/line up early, so depending on how many they have for sale, it might be a cluster-f#$k trying to score even one bottle.

The second chance is a sweepstakes lottery-style release, where you can sign up online for the chance to win a bottle (one sign-up per person). The bad news here is that anyone in the country can sign up for a chance, so winning might be just about impossible. The caveat is winners must pick their bottles up at the distillery in Versailles, Ky., so that might deter someone from, say, Oregon throwing their name in the hat. But who knows.

Woodford Double Double Oaked
Double Double … Yes! Yes! | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

“Double Double Oaked has such a cult following, which makes it very difficult for consumers to get their hands,” says Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris in a news release. “This sweepstakes will allow more of our fans to have the chance to try this special release.”

You can enter the sweepstakes anytime from now through Feb. 8. Winners will be notified by Feb. 10 and have until April 10 to purchase their bottles in person at the distillery.

So what makes Double Double so special special? Well, they take fully mature Double Oak and age it for an additional year in a second, heavily toasted, lightly charred, new oak barrel. The extra year creates a bourbon that is distinctly spicier and a little darker and richer than the original.

These bottles are also only 375ml and are sold for $49.99. The bourbon is 90.4 proof, following the standard Woodford Reserve proof of most of its products.

Good luck! And if you end up getting two, remember to reward the messenger!

A scene at Woodford Reserve Distillery

Woodford Reserve celebrates 25 years with special events and releases

A scene at Woodford Reserve Distillery
Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall celebrate 25 years. | Photo by Sara Havens

On an unusually warm Monday afternoon in October, media gathered at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Ky., to hear more about the exciting things planned for the Brown-Forman brand’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall were on hand to raise a toast to the milestone and fill us in on some upcoming events and news.

“We see no sign that the global demand for bourbon will diminish,” Morris said. “More and more consumers worldwide are discovering one of the greatest exports from Kentucky — bourbon. And they are especially enjoying Woodford Reserve.”

Morris added that Woodford Reserve is the top super premium whiskey in the world, and under his leadership and the rest of the Woodford team, the brand has grown exponentially from 1996 until now, adding four other expressions to the Woodford cannon: Double Oaked, Rye Whiskey, Wheat Whiskey and Malt Whiskey.

Potstills at Woodford Reserve
The iconic Woodford Reserve copper pot stills will soon be joined by three more. | Photo by Sara Havens

Morris and McCall also showed off the distillery’s newest expansion, which will double the capacity.

Not only are they adding three more iconic pot stills to the facility, but they also constructed a new building that’ll make more room for more fermenters in the current distillery.

During the event, the Woodford team topped off some newly filled barrels that’ll soon — well, in five or six years — be part of a commemorative 25th anniversary release.

To celebrate the big 2-5, the distillery will be offering special tastings, cocktails and releases all month long. And on Friday, Oct. 15, Morris and McCall will be at the distillery to sign bottles and answer questions from 2-4:30 p.m.

New Woodford Brandy Finish, new Evan Williams makeover, and more

I’m a big fan of the Woodford Reserve Distillery Series not only because my highly coveted Double Double Oaked is part of it, but because it’s fun to watch (and taste) a brand experiment with various aspects of bourbon production.

In other words, it’s fun to see Master Distiller Chris Morris play mad scientist.

The latest release — Woodford Reserve Brandy Cask Finished Bourbon — launches today, May 26, at the distillery’s gift shop and retails for $49.99 for a 375ml bottle.

According to a news release, the product is a blend of Woodford finished in French and California brandy barrels, and it has loads of brown sugar and caramel notes, as well as — get this — “chocolate-coated vanilla wafer laced with cotton candy and citrus peel.” Now there’s a mouthful, all of which I’d like to have in my mouth.

“Each core expression of Woodford Reserve pushes the creative boundaries of whiskeys to the extreme, and I wanted this one-of-a-kind limited expression to be no exception,” said Morris in the release. “The result is a unique whiskey — the perfect addition to Woodford’s Distillery Series expressions.”

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch gets a makeover

Evan Williams just got back from “the doctor,” and it looks like he’s beginning to experiment with Botox. But instead of poison that makes your skin puffy and temporarily removes wrinkles, Williams’ botox was filled with extra proof — and he got a facelift while he was there!

The Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch will now be released in a fancy new bottle and at a higher proof: 90 (up 4 points from 86). The new bottle features Williams’ signature blown in across the top, and it now looks like a premium spirit — but at an affordable price: $19.99.

“Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch pays homage to some of the earliest years of licensed distilling in Kentucky, and an important year for bourbon and the Commonwealth’s signature industry,” said Julie Cole, Evan Williams Senior Brand Manager, in a news release.

“With a return to the original 90 proof, the award-winning mash bill … is full-flavored and works both as a cocktail base and stand-alone sipper. We are excited to bring more focus to what is known as the ‘best kept secret’ in the Evan Williams Bourbon family.”

Around The Horn

So I haven’t been keeping up with some of these release announcements because I’m a busy girl … and there’s like a new bourbon coming out just about every day now. But I’ll try to be better by doing better.

Also, I have a bar full of new bourbons to try, and I’m gonna need some help! I’m way behind on my Tasteless Tastings, so I’ll need to schedule one of those ASAP! Holler at me if you’d like to join, and that way I’ll know you’ve read this entire post to the end.

But, a quick look at some other new releases:

  • E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Bourbon — 10-year-old bourbon aged in Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C, which Col. E.H. Taylor built in 1885.
  • Weller Full Proof — Blue label Weller, bottled at 114 proof. Good luck, you won’t find it.
  • Weller C.Y.P.B. — Stands for “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon,” while label Weller, bottled at 95 proof. Good luck, you definitely won’t find it.
  • Angel’s Envy Finished in Madeira Casks — Part of the Cellar Collection, this new release is finished in Madeira wine casks, a type of wine made on the Portuguese Madeira Islands off the coast of Africa.
  • Buzzard’s Roost Peated Barrel Rye — For this release, the brand’s sixth, they actually imported peat logs from Scotland to add smoke to the process, much like peated scotch in Scotland.
Woodford Reserve Derby bottles

Woodford Reserve Derby Bottle 2021 artwork flows with 2020 bottle; Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Fest bottle; new Maker’s Mark wood finish

The sun is shining in my old Kentucky home today, and with talk of the Kentucky Derby, I feel as if spring is officially here. I jumped on a Zoom call this morning with fellow Louisville media to hear all about the new Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle, which features equine artwork from the same artist as last year — Richard Sullivanand, get this, the image is basically an extension of last year’s art.

Why does that matter? Because it’s going to look damn cool on your bar, that’s why! Sullivan’s image of the horses running the Kentucky Derby has basically been extended between the two bottles, so you can display them side by side and practically have Derby artwork on your bar — with delicious bourbon inside!

Woodford Reserve Derby bottles
The one on the left is the 2020 bottle, and 2021 is on the right. | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Bourbon and art make a lovely pair.

In this morning’s press conference, Sullivan, a Louisville-based artists and former professional baseball player, said this opportunity has been a dream come true, and his artwork is meant to “capture the spirit of the Kentucky Derby.”

The bottles will hit shelves as early as this week and retail for $49.99. You might be able to find some of the 2020 bottles in area liquor stores, and in fact, I just saw some recently at the Total Wine in St. Matthews.

Evan Williams releases Kentucky Derby Festival bottle March 11
Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Festival bottle
Love that pink! | Courtesy of Evan Williams

And speaking of Derby, the fine folks at the Kentucky Derby Festival are once again partnering with Evan Williams for the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Bottle that features the 2021 Pegasus Pin on the neck. This year, the wax is a dapper hot pink!

The limited-edition 2013 vintage is bottled at 115 proof, which commemorates both the 66th Kentucky Derby Festival plus the 49th Pegasus Pin anniversary (66+49=115). Each bottle of the single barrel bourbon contains the exact day it was put into an oak barrel to age, the barrel number and the date it was bottled.

“Our partnership with Evan Williams celebrates two of Kentucky’s favorite things — the Derby Festival and bourbon,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO, in a news release. “Although 2021 will be different, Pegasus Pins are still a great way to share the Derby Festival spirit and support your favorite events.”

The bottles will be available mostly at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville on Thursday, March 11. They’ll retail for $74.99.

Say hello to Maker’s Mark FAE-01
Maker's Mark FAE-01
Can’t wait to try this! | Courtesy of Maker’s Mark

Also coming out this week is a new limited release in the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series, titled FAE-01. This is the third in the series and is named after the staves that altered the standard Maker’s Mark bourbon.

“For 2021, we leaned into our column stills and nonchill-filtering process, which, simply put, helps us retain the texture and a higher viscosity of the whisky,” said Jane Bowie, Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation, in a news release. “What we got is an expression that highlights the fruit-forward taste profile in an unexpected and much welcomed way. It tastes just like a barrel warehouse smells.”

Now you got my attention! The smell of a rick house is like no other, and it brings me pure joy whenever I’m inside one.

The bourbon will be released anywhere from 110.3-110.6 proof and retail for $59.99 a bottle.

Woodford Double Double Oaked

Woodford’s Double Double Oaked 2020 to be released Wednesday

You know it, you love it, you look forward to it every year. No, it’s not the Super Bowl, it’s the annual Double Double Oaked release by Woodford Reserve.

Woodford Double Double Oaked
Double Double!

It was announced just about 15 minutes ago that the 2021 edition (which actually has 2020 stamped on it) will be put out at the distillery in Versailles on Wednesday, Jan. 27, starting at 10 a.m. The limit this year is four bottles per person.

I definitely applaud the limit, because last year the Distillery Series release sold out in one day, as people were allowed to buy an entire case if they so desired — and many of them definitely desired.

It’s hard to say if the Double Double will last longer than a day this time, but it’ll be interesting to see. The 375mL bottles usually run about $50 each.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Double Double Oaked, we’re glad you crawled out from under that rock to join us. The product was first launched in 2015 and is basically bourbon that was meant to be Double Oaked but was left in the second flavoring barrel (heavily toasted, lightly charred) for an extra year. That first release may have been an accident, but it flew off the shelves, and now Woodford is aging it extra on purpose.

Just a warning: It’s going to be a madhouse Wednesday at the distillery. So dress warm and pack some patience.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat bottle

What you need to know about this $2,000 bottle of Woodford Reserve

Before you roll those eyes and cringe at the $2,000 price tag on the latest finished bourbon release by Woodford Reserve, just take a minute to hear me out about why it’s such a hefty chunk of change.

First of all, before we even get to the juice inside, this is the first American whiskey to be bottled in a pristine Baccarat crystal bottle.

For those of you who don’t travel on your own private jet or rub elbows with the housewives of Beverly Hills, Baccarat is a market-leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of luxury crystal products. Based in Paris, the company dates back to 1764.

The fancy decanter — which takes a crystal artist about five days to make — is engraved with both Woodford and Baccarat, and it comes with a fancy crystal stopper. So the idea is that you’d keep this bottle in your collection even after you’ve drank all the precious whiskey inside.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat
Fancy pants!

And speaking of whiskey, let’s dip our toes into the details.

The Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition takes fully mature Woodford Reserve bourbon and finishes it for an additional three years in high-end XO cognac casks from France.

Cognac barrels are much larger than bourbon barrels, and they’re toasted, not charred, like our oak barrels. Woodford isn’t the first company to finish whiskey in cognac barrels, but, as Master Distiller Chris Morris pointed out Monday afternoon during a virtual press conference, there is a distinct cognac note found in Woodford Reserve bourbon that made it a natural partnership.

Morris added that Woodford has been experimenting with finished bourbons for quite some time now, dating back to 2007 with a chardonnay finish. The goal of finishing his bourbon, he said, is to both highlight and intensify the flavors already found in Woodford Reserve.

“If you can’t taste Woodford in the finish, it’s not something we’re going to release,” he noted.

Morris said Woodford, which is owned by Brown-Forman, secured several brands of cognac barrels for the project, which will continue to be released yearly in a limited amount.

Many of these $2,000 bottles can be found in the duty-free shops inside airports or at high-end bars, most likely sitting next to even more expensive bottles of scotch, brandy, cognac, etc.

The 2020 limited release has about 2,000 bottles for the U.S. market, which came from 16 casks.

Those of us in Monday’s press conference were given a sample of Woodford Baccarat and led through a tasting with Master Taster Elizabeth McCall. From first sniff to the long finish, you could tell this was interesting stuff.

It’s fruit and spice forward, with notes of red apples, vanilla and baking spices waltzing around your tastebuds. There is a hint of dark chocolate, and on the finish you get orange peel, spice and a drizzle of honey.

It’s creamy, and it’s quite dreamy.

But would I shell out $2,000 for it? Seeing that I don’t have a full-time job at the moment nor do I DM with Erika Jayne, that’s a definite no.

Maybe I’ll win the lottery someday. You gotta have goals.

Woodford Reserve Five Wood bottle

Woodford Reserve officially releases Five Wood; Buffalo Trace opens for tours July 1

Since I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment than take a deep nosedive into the numerous private bourbon groups online, I’ve known about the new Woodford Reserve Distillery Series release, Five Wood, for about a month now.

The little bottles have been popping up on liquor store shelves, and the ravenous whiskey warriors (myself included) have been snatching them up quicker than Lysol wipes.

But alas, I received an official press release from the Woodford folks today about the product, and I truly can’t wait to try it.

Woodford Reserve Five Wood bottle

Five Wood!

As you know, the Distillery Series is an experimental line of bourbons and whiskeys from Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris that is released a few times a year. The infamous Double Double Oaked is part of that series, and it’s the only one to this day that continues to be released once a year.

The others are one-off concepts Morris has tinkered with in his mad scientist laboratory, like the Five Wood. So where does the name come from?

Well, basically, Morris took some mature Woodford Reserve bourbon (which is aged in oak barrels), then finished that juice in four other barrels: an Oloroso Sherry barrel, an Amontillado Sherry barrel, a Ruby Port barrel, and a Tawny Port barrel.

I’m no math wiz, but those four barrels + the original oak barrel = Five Wood.

“This is the first time in Woodford Reserve’s history that we’ve blended whiskeys that have been finished in five different barrels,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris in the press release. “The result is a rich taste and a bright finish.”

The finishing process is nothing new in the bourbon world, as many brands have similar experiments on the market, including Angel’s Envy, which is based strictly on finishing straight Kentucky bourbon in sherry casks. But, as Morris noted, it is a new concept for Woodford — as far as the number of different barrels it is finishing its bourbon in.

I have not yet tasted the Five Wood, but I plan on doing that ASAP. I cannot confirm nor deny I own a bottle, but you better believe I’ll be posting the tasting notes once I get a taste!

Until then, Morris has shared his tasting notes with me:

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series – Five Wood Taste Notes

Color: Deep Black Cherrywood

Aroma: An intense medley of rich blackberry, dark cherry, dates, raisin, prune and red fruit

reduction notes sweetened with Damara sugar and caramel-coated walnuts. Dark

leather, oak and black licorice spice develop slowly.

Taste: Rich dark chocolate and espresso coffee caramel icing coated with a raspberry and cherry reduction.

Finish: Long, mouthwatering rich red fruit brightened with a drop of orange oil

Five Wood is now available to purchase online and pick up from the distillery every Friday. It retails for $49.99 for a 375 ml bottle.

* * *

Buffalo Trace reopens July 1

Buffalo Trace Distillery

The Buffalo Trace Distillery is a beautiful experience. | Courtesy of Buffalo Trace

Slowly but surely, Kentucky distilleries are opening up for public tours. Included in the early bunch are Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Barton 1792, Copper & Kings, Wilderness Trail, Bardstown Bourbon Co. and a few others. Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Ky., is the latest to announce its opening date, which is Wednesday, July 1.

Of course with COVID-19 measures in place, things will be slightly different in this new time, including smaller tours, advance registration, and limited access to distillery operations.

According to a news release, Buffalo Trace is opening its newly expanded Visitor Center, which triples the size of the original and will allow ample space for the Gift Shop and new expansive tasting rooms.

“We are taking every step we can to address the health, safety and comfort of our guests to ensure the best experience possible,” said Homeplace Development Director Meredith Moody in the release. “Our goal is to create a safe haven for all visitors while providing the same rich history and experiences for which we’re known. We can’t wait to reopen to the public and show guests our expanded Visitor Center and tasting rooms.”

There’s a short list of guidelines for those looking to tour the distillery starting July 1:

  • Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
  • Advance registration required online.
  • Access to grounds and the playground only available to registered visitors.
  • New safety and sanitation protocols in place, including guests must wear face masks.
  • All tours remain free.
Woodford Reserve

New releases: Batch Proof, Barrel Proof and bourbon-battered beer

Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy your bourbon collection as it now stands, along come more damn releases — but that’s a good thing! Right?

Batch Proof

Woodford Reserve

Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

First up, Woodford Reserve is releasing another limited-edition Batch Proof, which is up slightly in proof from last year’s first-ever Batch Proof release (123.6 vs. 123.3). Hey, we’ll take what we can get, right! I thought last year’s was incredible, so I’m excited to try this one on for size.

“Most people do not get to experience Woodford Reserve at such a high-proof presentation, so we are honored to share this special bourbon with the public,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris in a news release. “The intensity and depth of flavor found in Woodford Reserve Batch proof is truly remarkable.”

Thanks, Chris. Now I really need to try it!

According to the release, some flavor notes include rich raisin, brown sugar, “spicy leather character” (huh?) and cedar wood. Sounds like Grandma’s old closet to me.

Regardless, this is going to be great stuff. It’ll retail for $129.99.

Barrel Proof

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Photo by Sara Havens

Next up, it’s the 2020 release of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (A120), at a whopping 136.6 proof! Each year, the Barrel Proof starts trickling out to thirsty bourbon fanatics, and it has garnered top accolades throughout the years, including Whisky of the Year.

This is bourbon in its purest form, you all! The only thing they do to it after dumping from the barrel is filter out the flecks of char.

It’s uncut, 12-year-old bourbon that packs a punch as well as a fascinating flavor that you just can’t put down. It’s hot, it’s sweet, it’s sticky. It’s what you’d taste if you found yourself in a rick house with a long-ass straw.

This usually retails for around $60-$70.

Bourbon-aged beer

And finally, Angel’s Envy is preparing to launch a barrel-aged beer program called “Angel’s & Ale,” and its first partner in crime is Against the Grain.

Angle's & Ales

Courtesy of Angel’s Envy

Apparently, AtG created a Belgian Quadruple Ale that was aged for three to four months in port barrels formerly used to finish Angel’s Envy core product.

While the beer will be available for the entire month of March at AtG, they’re having a kickoff party on Feb. 28 at the Angel’s Envy Distillery, just right across the street from AtG. And more good news: They’ll be announcing additional “Angel’s & Ale” collaborations throughout 2020.

Can’t wait to try this brew out, as I’m curious how much flavor resonates from a used port barrel that has aged bourbon for a few months.

Cheers!

Woodford Master's Collection

Say what? New Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection is Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon

Woodford Master's Collection

I knew you were trouble when you walked in. | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

There’s gotta be someone looking down on me, because this new release from Woodford Reserve has my name all over it! The latest in the brand’s Master’s Collection is a concoction called Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon, and it comes out THIS MONTH!

You had me at chocolate. You had me even more at chocolate malt. The fact that it’s a high-rye bourbon just seals the deal. And you thought I was hard to get?

Tell me more, Chris Morris!

“The rye malt was roasted to a level that its natural sugars caramelized into a dark chocolate note,” Morris said in a news release. “This special bourbon even surprised me as it matured in our warehouses. Each time I tasted it, the chocolate notes became even more pronounced.”

It must be something if the master distiller is enticed!

The Master’s Collections come out twice a year — in the spring and in the fall. This bourbon is proofed at the Woodford standard of 90.4 and retails for $129.99. Of course it is highly limited, as it is a one-time-only release.

According to Morris’ tasting notes, the flavor notes include roasted rye grain, dry cocoa nibs, a dark chocolate spice, and a soft mocha character atop a layer of cherry fruit and toasted oak.

I can’t wait to try it!

• • •

Coming soon: A Halloween edition of Tasteless Tastings … I promise! Keep your eyes peeled this week, girls and ghouls!