Woodford Reserve is the Buick of bourbons. Like the venerable and ubiquitous automobile, Woodford aims to be classy and stylish — yet affordable.
Cynics will say that you can dress up a Buick all you like but at the end of the day it’s still a Buick. Likewise, the same could be said about Woodford Reserve. It doesn’t matter how it’s presented or what bottle you put it in, it’s still WR — which in my opinion isn’t an indictment of the whiskey. After all, you can do much worse than WR.
But it is it my first choice? No. Is it a solid and reliable everyday bourbon? Sure.
Appearance: Clean, brilliant honey amber.
Nose: Heavy with rich dried fruit, hints of mint and oranges covered with a dusting of cocoa. Faint vanilla and tobacco spice.
Taste: Rich, chewy, rounded and smooth, with complex citrus, cinnamon and cocoa.
Toffee, caramel, chocolate and spice notes abound.
Finish: Silky smooth, almost creamy at first with a long, warm satisfying tail.
2015 Ultimate Spirits Challenge: Excellent, Highly Recommended
2014 Whiskies of the World Awards: Gold Medal
2014, 2012, 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition: Gold Medal
2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition: Double Gold Medal
2012 International Spirits Challenge: Best in Class, Gold Medal
2012 Ultimate Spirits Challenge: Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation
Tasting Grade: C
Yeah, it’s pretty good. Not excellent. You won’t see me making special trips to the store to pick up Woodford Reserve nor will you see me hounding liquor barn employees to save me a bottle. That said, it’s good to have a bottle on hand, especially for parties or occasions where you don’t want to share your favorite swill with the simpleton or the drunkard in attendance.
Value Grade: C
At around $35 a bottle, it’s not the best bang for your buck. You’re not going to lament the fact that you bought one, but at the same time you’re not going to feel as though it’s highway robbery.
I’ve found that the best place to purchase WR is at a pharmacy or drugstore, e.g. Walgreens, CVS, etc. It’s usually significantly cheaper there than at any liquor store.
Overall Rating: C
Like I said at the outset of the review, Woodford Reserve is the Buick of bourbons. It is widely available, moderately priced and relatively reliable.