Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Brandy Cask Finish Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $100
- 90.4 Proof
- NAS

The 2016 Woodford Reserve Master's Collection release was a brandy cask finished bourbon. Though intriguing as it sounds, and perhaps indicative of the kind of reception this series has received the past few years, these are still sitting around on shelves in some places collecting dust. I, for one, was excited to give this a try. I love finished bourbons, and I can enjoy the occasional brandy, so this seemed like a tasty proposition.

The nose gives away the fruity characters from the brandy. It's sweet on the nose, with distinct notes of raisin and brown sugar, complemented by some crisper, softer fruits including lighter notes of pear as well as heavier notes of plum.

As expected, this bourbon is very fruit forward on the palate. What I didn't expect, however, is how vanilla forward it is. I didn't really get any vanilla on the nose, but it underscored every sip.

It also wasn't as sweet as I expected based on the nose. It carried the fruity notes that I expected, including plum and pear. The sweetness was there, but it was more of a wine sweetness, a sweetness that occurs naturally from the fruit.

This bourbon seemed to change significantly as I made my way through the bottle. The fruit-flavor profile seemed to change, and later pours were dominated by the sweet flavor of dried apricots mixed with brown sugar. It was very jelly-like in flavor and had me smacking my lips after each sip. Though it wasn't what I'd look for in an every day drinker, I really enjoyed it for what it is. It's kind of like peach cobbler to me in that sense. Something that I really enjoy on occasion, but nothing I'd want to have with any regularity.

The bourbon is somewhat watery in texture, and overall soft on the palate. By that I mean that you aren't smacked with intense flavors, bold spice or high heat. It's an easy drinker that is sweet up front and has an inoffensive finish of lingering fruit and light baking spice that lasted, though not as long as I'd prefer, more than a few seconds anyway.

This bourbon is incredibly unique in taste, and overall, the brandy finish is a success. When the mood struck me, this was exactly what I needed. It's kind of like how most of the time when I eat candy I eat chocolate, a Snickers or something. But, sometimes, I want that fruity, chewy Starburst, and when I have it, it satisfies that craving, and I'm back to my Snickers and Milky Ways. This is a niche bourbon, but it fills that niche very well.

Grade: B+

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