Traditionally, when it comes to Bourbon, I've always been primarily a Woodford Reserve man. Past that, I go to Bulleit when I want to go down just a notch or Pappy's when I want to splurge and go up ten notches. (Pappy's is so great and so prohibitively expensive that it almost doesn't even count when one tallies up the gradient scale of Bourbon.)
But recently, I've found myself sneaking around and cheating on Woodford Reserve, and having a mad passionate affair with Four Roses Single Barrel 100 Proof that's quickly developing into a serious love relationship.
Just as I don't do winespeak or cigarspeak (pretending to be tasting "notes" of lavender, charcoal, bismuth, dirty diapers or armadillo sweat), neither do I do bourbonspeak. Let it suffice to say that this is the first Bourbon I've ever found myself not just sipping from shots, but swigging from the bottle like soda pop. It's that great.
The reason my feelings about Woodford Reserve are drifting may not be entirely in my head: while hyperlinking the Bourbons mentioned here to bourbonenthusiast.com, I just read one user's comments about how Woodford Reserve really has changed its formula somewhat:
Taste: There has been some drift in the flavor profile as Woodford Reserve transmorgrified from a single malt variant of Old Forester to the vatted malt of copper pot stilled and the column stilled whiskey. There is an astringent metalic taste on the sides of the tongue now that wasn't there before, but it is not unpleasent - just different. Gone is the ultra candy of batch #40 (my favorite) and in it's place is the tart fruitiness of the 'brass section' that tastes like a mixed fruit jam of some kind which is a very unique and unexpected delight. Yes it's different now. More like a variation on a theme rather than a whole new tune.
Finish: A cooler finish prevails. Not softer, but not the spicey heat of the Old Forester single malt. Again there is some metalic tartness of the copper stilled element. Along with a pleasent, but a decidedly different and intriguing finish of respectable length.
Overall: OK it's different now. Accept it or don't drink it. The Woodford Reserve of old is gone with it's do-wop sweet melody line and hot soulful finish, but you can still enjoy this in Old Forrester 100 proof.
Since Four Roses is based out of Lawrenceburg, KY, which is just a short drive from me, I'll be dropping in there to pay my respects to my latest liquorly obsession (and hopefully get some free samples!) very, very soon. Expect a report on it either here or on Unusual Kentucky.
- - JSH