Woodford Reserve: Winter 2022 Master’s Collection “Historic Barrel Entry” Release

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This grabbed my attention – BARREL ENTRY PROOF. How hot is the juice running when it first enters the barrel for the marriage with all those wood chemical compounds that are so pivotal in flavor (and color of course).

Think of it like this – sugar is more soluble in water than alcohol. Lower proof, less alcohol, more water. More water, more opportunity for the liquid to break down and grab the sugars and other desirable flavor compounds lingering in the wood.

I’ve done the Pepsi Challenge of a lower entry proof whiskey vs higher entry, the whiskey being identical otherwise. I was astounded by the difference and how much more I enjoyed the lower BEP.

And it’s a bit of a bragging right per the brand as lower BEP is a more costly commitment. You can squeeze more bottles from an aging vessel at higher BEP vs lower, when diluting the final bottle proof. One could say a brand who does lower BEP is more heavily committed to quality.

Will BEP be a rising trend? I think it’s certainly a possibility.

The Bill Nye tangent aside – Woodford Reserve has announced the winter 2022 Master’s Collection release – Historic Barrel Entry. Per the brand, the whiskey is a rich and darkly robust expression of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

For this Master’s Collection release, Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris called upon the rich history of Kentucky Bourbon and their own interests for inspiration. The product was first available at Woodford Reserve Distillery starting at 9 a.m. February 9.

This 2022 Master’s Collection was made with newly-distilled whiskey that went into the barrel at 100 proof.

The barrel entry proof of “new make” plays an important role in the maturation process, and the standard for barrel entry proof has changed over the past two centuries.

Per the brand, the bourbon of the 19th century had a barrel entry of 100 to 103 proof, and after the repeal of Prohibition, barrel entry proof levels began to increase. The present barrel entry proof standard that was set in 1962 is 125 proof.

“A lower entry proof seems counterintuitive when one thinks of getting more flavor from the new, charred barrel.  In fact, many of the barrel extractives we desire are more water soluble than they are alcohol,” Morris said.  “By having a lower entry proof (in other words more water in the barrel than the Woodford Reserve standard of 110 proof entry) will result in richer, sweet characteristics being absorbed from the barrel’s famed red layer.”

Woodford Reserve Distillery introduced the Master’s Collection, a new era of innovation to the historic Kentucky bourbon industry, in 2004 with the first release of its Master’s Collection, “Four Grain”.

This year’s limited-edition release marks the 18th edition of the Master’s Collection. It is available in select U.S. and global markets and has a suggested retail price of $129.99 for a 700ml bottle.

Tasting Notes (Brand Provided)

Color:  Deep russet orange

Aroma:  An alluring medley of vanilla bean and dried apple dusted with nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon with a hint of cocoa. Roasted coffee and hazelnut soften into notes of dark cherry and plum muddled with spearmint.

Taste:  Rich toasted oak is tempered by overripe banana and a medley of cooked berry fruits. Hints of leather, coffee, and baking spice trail  into minty dark chocolate.

Finish: A lingering finish of charred oak, leather, and orange oil.