The 2011 Master's Collection release from Woodford Reserve featured an interesting set of two half-bottles of rye whiskey. One of the rye whiskeys was aged in a new American oak cask (akin to how almost every other American whiskey is matured) - the other rye whiskey was aged in a cask which had previously held bourbon. Both were bottled at 46.2% ABV. The bottles are sold together.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection New Cask Rye is a deep, dark amber in color. The nose offers intense and spicy hints of what’s to come: Punchy, authentic rye character, and surprisingly easy-drinking despite the proof. This is one of the more easygoing rye whiskeys out there; we’d put it in line with Bulleit’s Rye, which should be taken as a compliment. Considering how wood-forward Woodford’s Bourbon tends to be, this whiskey is a surprising, and quite delicious, change of pace.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Aged Cask Rye couldn’t look more different in the glass: Pale yellow, like a very young Scotch. If nothing else these two bottles are amazingly instructive in the power of old vs. new wood on aged whiskey. As expected, the nose is more reserved but similar. The body is entirely dissimilar: That rye grain comes on strong on the front of the palate, but caramel and vanilla notes punch their way in within seconds.