Woodford Reserve’s New Bourbon Is a Delicious Accident

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In the whiskey industry, it seems that you can turn any accident, error, or mistake into something worth selling. While it’s best to take all of these stories with a grain of salt, the latest happy accident comes from Kentucky distillery Woodford Reserve, which claims its new limited-edition bourbon was the result of the wrong barrel delivery.

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Let’s look at some other “accidents” in whiskey that have resulted in new releases. The entire concept of Orphan Barrel is based on casks that have been misplaced for years, only to be discovered hidden away in the furthest recesses of warehouses (perhaps some were better off left there). Natterjack has a new release literally called The Mistake, an Irish whiskey that it says was erroneously left in virgin oak casks for an extra year. Westward Whiskey says the wrong barley delivery was the source of its recent Vienna Malt expression. Even Wild Turkey had a screw-up when an employee mistakenly blended bourbon and rye, resulting in 2022’s Master’s Keep Unforgotten. The bottom line is that all of these are plausible scenarios, and it would seem pretty blatant to just totally make up the stories behind these releases. Still, whiskey marketing has always had a little bit of BS and dash of bluster in the mix, so it’s understandable to at least question the veracity of such claims.

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This all brings us to the new Woodford Reserve Toasted Bourbon, part of the annual Distillery Series that is available at the distillery itself in 375-ml bottles as well as select Kentucky retailers (and, soon enough, on the secondary market for much more than its $65 asking price). According to the marketing team, in 2017 Doubled Oaked barrels were accidentally delivered to Woodford and filled with new make spirit. The difference is that regular Woodford bourbon barrels are lightly toasted and heavily charred, while Double Oaked barrels are heavily toasted and lightly charred (these are used to finish already mature bourbon for the Double Oaked expression). A total of 18 barrels were filled, and ultimately the distillery team decided to keep them and watch them as they matured in Warehouse C for over six years.

We did not get to taste this bourbon yet, but master distiller Elizabeth McCall thinks the results were worthwhile. “Toasted Bourbon resulted in a delicious whiskey that blends the flavor profile of both Woodford Reserve’s Bourbon and Double Oaked,” she said in a statement. “After more than six years of patiently waiting, we’re thrilled to share this one-of-a-kind bourbon with our fans.” Tasting notes include toasted oak and graham cracker on the nose, followed by cinnamon brown sugar, raw honey, baking spice, and toasted oak on the palate. At the moment, the easiest way to get a bottle might be to visit the distillery, but you can find the rest of the Woodford lineup available to purchase from ReserveBar now.

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