Back in 2013, Woodford Reserve just did something fascinating, on the verge of awesome. For that year’s Master’s Collection release, they introduced TWO malt whiskeys – one aged in charred new oak (as is typical of bourbon), one in used (as is typical of Scotch). That’s right; these are malt whiskeys, which is highly unusual in the US and unheard of in Kentucky. AND they offer the chance to experience the difference that used vs. new barrels have on that malt whiskey. This listing is for the Straight Malt.
The color is typical of bourbon of some age – a bright, full amber. The nose, too, heads in bourbon direction – bold, with some baking spice and vanilla coming through, a bit of orange zest, but mostly something like brown sugar oatmeal – a toasty, grain-driven nose with just a bit of caramelization. The sweetness is minimal, though, compared to bourbon.
Sipping neat, this is relatively smooth stuff. All the way through the finish. Again, the malt grain is very present, but it is bathed in orange rind, cinnamon, a bit of crisp pear fruit. It's not woody, but you get the impact of that charred oak in the baking spice profile. A touch of water brings out the butterscotch, but interestingly… it also brings out the Scotch! That sounds like two different directions, and it is, but we like how a bit of water manages to accent both the wood and the grain here.
With a cube of ice, we are digging this even more. It takes on a fuller, chewier feel in the mouth. Orange, baking spice, pear come more to the front ahead of the grain. The finish is warm and steady, though veers a bit into a tart and tannic direction at the end.