Friday, July 12, 2013

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Kentucky is an often forgotten state that most individuals forget about except, maybe, once a year when people flock there to participate in the Kentucky Derby, the renowned horse race.  But Kentucky is no longer just famous for its horses.  In fact, Kentucky has received rising recognition for its bourbon which is a drink that, according to an Act of Congress in 1964, is an American Native Spirit.  This means that it can ONLY be produced in the 50 states of the union.  However, true bourbon connoisseurs agree that Kentucky bourbon is the best and in fact most of the spirit's production takes place in this state.

 Sour mash and yeast is fermented in the early states of production
When I visited Woodford Reserve this week I was awed by the sheer beauty of the drive into Versailles, KY, where this famous distillery is located.  The distillery is nestled among the lush green pastures of KY between acres of horse farms and charming vineyards.  After embarking on the tour of the distillery I learned what makes Woodford Reserve so special apart from its exterior beauty.  First, the distillery uses the traditional process of  making bourbon meaning that they only use Kentucky water (packed full of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium).  They also use a special sour mash comprised of 72 % corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley.  And in keeping with the traditional bourbon process, they age their bourbon in new, charred oak barrels.  Most of a bourbon's distinct taste comes from this very special barrel which can only be used once for the production of bourbon.  Woodford Reserve imparts additional flavor into its bourbon by placing the bourbon into the barrel at 110 proof instead of the standard 125 proof.  They believe that this help the bourbon to acquire its unique "Woodford" flavor.

Woodford is placed into the barrel at 110 proof
Woodford bourbon is aged at least six years to give it a strong flavor and its unique caramel color.  Woodford is classified as a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey which, by the way, is a classification that can only be achieved if the bourbon is made in Kentucky and distilled according to the laws for distilling bourbon spirits.  Additionally, if the bourbon is aged for less than 4 years the manufacturer must disclose the age on the bottle otherwise they are not required by law to do so.

Woodford smells deeply of caramel and vanilla flavors and tastes of  oak, spices, and toasted nuts.  It has a long finish.  It is a pleasant bourbon for drinking neat or with a touch of ice.  Or to feel like a true Kentuckian, try a mint julep, which is the classic drink for the Kentucky Derby horse race.  A traditional recipe can be found here. Overall, I raise my glass (of bourbon) to Woodford Reserve and congratulate them on making a product which has achieved international fame despite being relatively new to the market.

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