|Country of origin||Kentucky, United States|
|Alcohol by volume||45.20%|
Woodford Reserve Distillery
|Nearest city:||Versailles, Kentucky|
|Architectural style:||Mid 19th Century Revival, Late Victorian, Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals|
|Added to NRHP:||November 7, 1995|
|Designated NHLD:||May 15, 2000|
Woodford Reserve is a brand of premium small batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by the Brown-Forman Corporation. It is distilled at the company's Woodford Reserve Distillery. The distillery is in Woodford County, in central Kentucky. Formerly known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery and later the Labrot & Graham Distillery, it is approximately eight miles from the town of Versailles off U.S. Route 60, between Interstate 64 and Versailles. Each bottle is numbered with a batch number and bottle number. Woodford Reserve's alcohol content is 45.2% alcohol by volume (90.4 US Proof).
Distilling on the site began in 1780 and the distillery building itself was erected in 1838, making it the oldest of the nine bourbon distilleries in current operation in Kentucky as of 2010—although the site has not been continuously operational as a distillery during that history. In 1995 the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2000 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Originally established by Elijah Pepper, the distillery was passed on to his son and was known as the Oscar Pepper Distillery when Dr. James Crow worked there in the mid-19th century. During this time Dr. Crow went about a series of activities that improved and codified the understanding of, and quality of, key bourbon-making processes such as sour-mash fermentation, pot still distillation and barrel maturation. The Pepper family sold the property to Leopold Labrot and James Graham in 1878, who owned and operated it (except during Prohibition) until 1941 when it was sold to the Brown-Forman Corporation. B-F operated it until 1968 and then sold the then-mothballed property in 1971. Brown-Forman re-purchased the property in 1993 and refurbished it to bring it back into operation. The Woodford Reserve brand was introduced to the market in 1996.
Among the expressions of bottlings branded as Woodford Reserve are two variations, one being the parent brand and the other called the Masters Collection. The Master's Collection is a series of limited-quantity bottlings which are produced using the older pot still distillation method rather than modern column still technology.
Limited Edition Collector's Sets
Woodford Reserve Master's Collection
In 2005, the company released the first bottling in its series called Woodford Reserve Master's Collection. One expression in the collection series is released every year (usually around November), with limited quantities and locations.
|Year||Batch Title||Proof||% ABV|
|2005||Four Grain Batch #1||92.4||46.2|
|2006||Four Grain Batch #2||92.4||46.2|
|2007||Sonoma Cutrer Finish||86.4||43.2|
|2008||Sweet Mash 1838||86.4||43.2|
|2009||Seasoned Oak Finish||100.4||50.2|
|2010||Maple Wood Finish||94||47.2|
|2011||Aged Cask Rye||92.4||46.2|
|2011||New Cask Rye||92.4||46.2|
The company also releases commemorative Woodford Reserve bottlings annually for the Kentucky Derby and the Breeder's Cup.
Reviews and accolades
International Spirit ratings organizations and liquor review bodies have generally given Woodford Reserve solid scores. At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Woodford Reserve's best performance was in 2005, when it won a double gold medal, and it has since won gold (2006–2007, 2011-2012) and silver (2008, 2010) medals at this annual event. The Beverage Testing Institute has given the Reserve scores of between 90 and 91 and Wine Enthusiast awarded it a 90-95 point rating. Spirits ratings aggregator proof66.com, which averages scores from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Wine Enthusiast, the Beverage Testing Institute, and others, ranks Woodford Reserve in its highest ("Tier 1") scoring category.
In a contract arrangement with Churchill Downs, Woodford Reserve has been declared the "official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby" and is used in a $1,000 mint julep cocktail that is sold to patrons on Derby Day. (Although Woodford Reserve is the Derby's "official bourbon", its sister brand Early Times is the "official drink" and is featured in the more moderately priced juleps served at the event.)
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Pot Stills Versus Column Stills, The Chuck Cowdery Blog: American Whiskey & Other Stuff, February 26, 2008. (Access date March 3, 2011.)
- "Proof66.com's Summary Page for Woodford Reserve". Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Proof66.com Whiskey Page". Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Woodford Reserve (Brown Forman)
- Woodford Reserve Facebook page
- Background and a review of Woodford Reserve at Bourbon-Central.com
- The Whisky Portal
- National Historic Landmark: Labrot and Graham's Old Oscar Pepper Distillery