Woodford Reserve Rye
Earlier this year, Brown-Forman added a rye whiskey to its core lineup of Woodford Reserve "Distiller's Select" and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Woodford Rye is a 90.4 proof, 53% rye, and spends somewhere around 6 years in the wood, though it bears no age statement.
Unlike some of the other new ryes on the shelf (e.g. Bulleit's 95% rye, sourced from MGP Indiana or Whistlepig Farms' 100% rye, sourced from Alberta Premium), master distiller Chris Morris has produced his own product and from a lower rye mash bill of 53% rye, 33% corn, and 14% malted barley.
While this particular whiskey is new in 2015, Brown-Forman has plenty of experience producing great rye. In 2012, the Woodford Master's Collection New Cask Rye won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Also, between November 1996 and 2008, Brown-Forman produced Rittenhouse Rye for Heaven Hill after the catastrophic fire at their Bardstown distillery. Rittenhouse, a Gold Medal winner itself, has been declared to be the world's best whiskey (Whisky Magazine, 2010) and "the best whiskey in the world around $20" by Jason Pyle of Sour Mash Manifesto.
Chris Morris clearly knows a thing or two about making fine whiskey, but as our notes reflect, his Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is light on the nose and a tad sweet. Not the big, bold rye you may be looking for, but that's OK.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
$40 at ABC in Richmond, VA
Batch 006. Bottle 05665.
Color: Medium amber. (drinkspirits.com calls it "light gold." breakingbourbon.com calls it "dark gold)." Whatever. It's pretty nice to look at, better to whiff and sip.
Nose: Light on the nose, but sweet aromas dominate. Caramel, orange peel, and bright pear waft around as time brings out a freshly baked biscuit quality. There is the faintest scent of charred oak.
Tasting Notes: Up front, this rye is smooth with a bright, lemony entrance. As it develops in your mouth, honey and vanilla sweetness meet more classic peppery and spicy flavors. The heat lingers nicely through a very dry and pleasant finish.
Overall: B. The Woodford brand of whiskey is consistent, flavorful, and comes in the best bottle in the business. While we're glad to have picked up a bottle of the Woodford Rye for $40, it's a touch sweet and fruity for a rye. If you want spice, heat, and bold flavors, this isn't your rye. It drinks more like a high rye bourbon, which is perfectly fine, but you should know that before you make the purchase.