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  • Peter Miles

Looking for more wood ? Woodford Reserve Double Oak.


Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.


Woodford Reserve Distillery was introduced by the Brown-Forman company in 1996 as its new producer of ‘Premium Quality Bourbon’. It has enjoyed much success since, reaching the 1 million case output in 2021. Based near Versailles in Kentucky it occupies the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery Buildings, some of which date back to 1812. The distillate is a mix of its own pot stills and the column stills of Brown-Forman in Shively, Kentucky. The Woodford Reserve distillery is said to be run ‘autonomously’ with little Brown Forman ‘operational’ oversight. Woodford Reserve is a current Kentucky Derby major sponsor.


First released in 2012, the ’Double Oaked Barrel Finish Select’ is finished in a second oak barrel that is said to be heavily toasted and lightly charred to ‘extract soft, sweet oak’ character. There is speculation that this product was, in part, a response to the Makers Mark 46, a French Oak Stave finish, first released in 2010. The novel idea of using finishing barrels for scotch was now moving across the Atlantic and taking off in the bourbon industry during this period.


Double Gold Medal Awards at the 2014 and 2015 SF World Spirits Competition.


Mash bill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% barley. (Classic Brown-Forman, and shared with Old Forester)


Batch Size: Not disclosed. Interestingly the batches/bottle numbers are not on the label breaking with its practice on the core product.


ABV = 45.2%.


Matured: Speculated to be the same seven years of the core product plus six to twelve months in the finishing barrel.


Cost: $64 / 750ml bottle. A significant uptick on the $39 for the core product.


Color: Auburn: 1.5 (Whisky Magazine scale). A nice, rich color, just shy of becoming dark.


Swirl: Well developed rim with significant puckering, some thin ‘legs’ flowing quickly down the glass.


Nose: Classic bourbon nose, caramel dominates, some dark toffee and vanilla. Hints of nuts and some drier wood tannins emerge. Some leather in the background. Dried grass perhaps. Nothing hot or spicy. Overall, balanced and very pleasant indeed.


Taste: Medium viscosity, very woody, and surprisingly dry. Not what I was expecting from the nose. The usual bourbon caramel sweetness is there underneath, but not at all prominent. Some dark but not bitter chocolate emerges along with plain dry peanuts. There are some very faint fruit notes, perhaps melon, Smooth, easy going with a pleasant warmth and no alcohol burn.


Finish: Medium length. Hints of spices gradually emerge as the wood slowly fades. Nothing sharp or surprising.


Verdict: It ain’t called ‘double oak’ for nothing. This is a far cry from today's average bourbon profile. Smooth and interesting for sure, woody, and on the dry side. Kind of serious. A somber nightcap perhaps? A little pricy, but worth having a bottle on your shelf.

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