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  • Writer's pictureTony Pangilinan

Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

Welcome to the Bourbon, Banter, and Barrels blog! We will be using this platform to provide insight into bourbon culture, share random brain droppings, and provide some musings about what's in our glass. The content provided here will be synthesized organically and really is the opinion of each individual author.

According to the VA ABC's CEO Travis Hill, "The pandemic has greatly affected our licensed establishments and Virginia’s distilled spirits industry (Virginia ABC, 2020)," It's hard to believe how much time has passed since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and the negative effects it has had on the hospitality industry, first line responders, and people's personal lives. There is a bright spot in all of this doom and gloom! Vaccines to help protect people from Covid-19 is becoming more available as time goes on and will help flatten the curve and hopefully get the pandemic under control.

Bourbon is all a matter of taste, primarily your own, but it is always great to get insight into what you have in the bottle. I take an experiential method of learning about anything new and that includes what I taste in a glass. Regardless of what others think about this or that dram, the opinion that matters the most is what you think about the aroma, flavor, and finish since you will be plunking down your hard earned money to experience it.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get my hands on the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection: Very Fine Rare Bourbon which I purchased for the MSRP of $129.99 at my local VA ABC store (Virginia ABC, n.d.). The first in the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection was released on October 1, 2005 when they introduced a Four Grain Bourbon that was bottled at 92.4 proof and featured a unique bottle shaped like a copper pot still. Nearly 16 years later the new release features barrels that were withheld from the batching process and blended together using bourbons aged between eleven and seventeen years old even though the release has no age statement.

Distillery: Woodford Reserve (Brown-Forman)

City: Versailles, KY

Style: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

ABV: 45.2% (90.4 Proof)

Availability: Limited Release, 750 ml, $130.00 MSRP

Appearance: Auburn/Polished Mahogany (1.5 on a scale of 0.0 - 2.0)

Glass: Norlan Whisky Glass

Nose: Aged Oak, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Orange Zest

Palate: A little bit of peppery heat on the front that starts to spread to the mid palate. There is a touch of molasses, caramels, and cherry notes. The finish is long and has baking spice, vanilla, and a hit of dark chocolate which complements the tannins.

For a 90.4 Proof bourbon, it packs a lot of flavor from sip to sip and is a great way to finish off an evening after a meal talking with friends. There is a lot of complexity in this pour and I like how it continues to linger on with that dry finish, spiciness, and richness which I attribute to the master blending techniques of Chris Morris and Elizabeth McCall. I think this helps demonstrate how the extra barrel time and masterful blending can make such a wonderful product that is worth revisiting time and again.

One of the things that I did with this bourbon was to do a progressive tasting from the time that I opened the bottle for the first pour, to where I am now which is halfway through the bottle which was done over the course of multiple days. I did this to see if my opinion on what I was tasting would change much and it did not. If you are a fan of Woodford Reserve, then this is definitely one to add to your collection if you can get your hands on a bottle. For newcomers to the Woodford Reserve brand, it is highly recommended and will not disappoint.

Final Rating: Bottle

Rating Scale (Schwartz, 2020)

Bottle: Buy a bottle

Bar: Try it at a bar

Bust: Buy something else


Schwartz, J. (2020, August 28). Whiskey ratings, ratings, ratings! But what do they all mean? Bourbon & Banter.

Virginia ABC. (n.d.). Woodford Reserve master Collection Very Fine Rare Bourbon. Virginia ABC.

Virginia ABC. (2020, September 2). Fiscal year 2020 revenue.

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