Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Historic Barrel Entry Bourbon Whiskey (700ml)
The 18th Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection release continues to explore a particular aspect of whiskey making. This year’s is created from a mashbill of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley and bottled at 45.2% Alc./Vol. New-make went into the barrel at 100 proof. The entry proof plays an important role in the maturation process, and the standard for barrel entry proof has changed over the past two centuries. 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. Why is this significant?
Evrim Icoz from thewhiskywash.com explains, "A lot of distilleries use 125 proof (set as the maximum standard by law in 1962) as their base because this means they do not have to use as many barrels to hold the less watered down distillate. This saves a lot of space and money. However, there are notable distilleries that have lower than average barrel entry proofs such as Maker’s Mark (110 proof) and Michter’s (103 proof). When bourbon enters the barrel at a lower proof, it contains more water content compared to higher proof spirits. This higher water content allows for more efficient extraction of flavors from the wood during the aging process. The lower proof enables a slower and more gradual interaction between the bourbon and the barrel, allowing for the extraction of desirable flavors from the oak, such as vanillin, caramel, and other compounds that contribute to the bourbon’s flavor profile. Lower barrel entry proofs can result in less intense barrel influence on the bourbon. The wood influence, such as tannins and other compounds present in the oak, can be mellowed and balanced by the lower proof."
Bourbon writer, Fred Minnick points out, "...this subject is one of friendly debate; most agree with former Maker Mark’s Greg Davis, who notes that his 110 barrel entry proof doesn’t make Maker’s Mark better than Heaven Hill or another distillery going in at 125. “It just makes it different,” Davis says.
Other reviews... The bourbon starts off with a wonderful nose showcasing lighter aromas that feel like they’ve mingled together perfectly over time. It elicits reminders of a dusty bourbon from the 70s. But the palate abruptly changes course, focusing instead on drier flavors with a prominent bland oatmeal with a raisin note. A mingling of various light spices caps off the sip, with a pleasant warming heat before gently fading. While Historic Barrel Entry delivers a slightly elevated sip compared to the standard Woodford Reserve and is well-composed, the asking price doesn’t match the overall sip. For those who are fans of the series or the brand overall, this will be a subtle but pleasant hit, for everyone else though, the asking price may be a bit too steep. - breakingbourbon.com