Formerly only available in travel retail (duty-free) stores, Woodford Reserve’s most expensive product released to date is the Woodford Baccarat edition. It’s a 7-year old bourbon which is then finished an additional three years in X.O. Cognac casks. from varying houses. Unfortunately since Woodford goes through a broker, we don’t know from what house exactly.
Let’s get a little nerdy here for a second. Did you know that the instant it touches the cognac cask, bourbon is no longer bourbon, from a legal point of view? Bourbon, especially straight bourbon, can’t have any flavours added to it, and it can only be aged in new-charred oak. So when it comes into contact with a finishing cask, its legal classification changes. In this case it is now a “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in X.O. Cognac Barrels”. That said, it’s still quite tasty. Onto the tasting notes:
Nose: On the nose, I’m getting notes of rubber, intertwined with a dry sweetness that I’m attributing to the cognac casks. This isn’t the typical sweetness that you pick up on cognac or bourbon. I taste a muted amalgamation of the two. But yet, you can still pick up the individual sweet notes from the corn or the grape.
Working past the top notes, I get hints of apple and grape juice. There is honeycomb, followed by a high cacao-content dark chocolate. The tail end of the nose reminds me of a maple bacon donut; it’s got that sweet and savoury characteristic.
Palate: Savoury right off the bat, but with a bizarre “funk” to it. It’s not quite like a high ester rum, but there is something familiar about it. For an approximate 10-year old bourbon (Woodford Reserve is around 7 years old plus an extra three years in XO Cognac casks from an unknown house) this drinks surprisingly light, and very much like a Cognac.
The Woodford is heavily overpowered by the cognac in this, actually losing a lot of the character that one would expect. The standard bourbon flavour notes are there, but muted, under the cognac. What I’m tasting more than anything is a cognac/bourbon hybrid almost.
Finish: At 90.4 proof, this has a surprisingly long, bitter, and spicy finish.
Appearance: Medium gold, with thin legs.
With a suggested retail price of $2,000 this is probably out of reach for many people, and while it’s tasty I won’t be saving up for a bottle anytime soon.