Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Tuesday Tasting: Woodford Reserve 1838 Sweet Mash
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste the third release in a limited edition series from Woodford Reserve.
While I was in Europe last month the good folks at Woodford Reserve released the latest in their Master's Collection series, this time a revival of a historic whiskey making technique. I was disappointed to have to miss the launch event, but lucky enough to secure a tasting sample of the whiskey. I was just able to get around to tasting it this evening. Like the Woodford Reserve Four Grain and the Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish that came before it in this series, this is a unique whiskey experience.
Bourbon whiskey is traditionally made with what is called the sour mash process. What this means is that a supply of the spent mash -- grain, yeast and water -- or "sour mash" from a previous batch of whiskey is mixed with a new mash mixture. The use of sour mash is said to create a more consistent Bourbon from batch to batch.
The 1838 Sweet Mash is produced using 100 percent fresh ingredients, so it is a "sweet" and not a "sour" mash. Woodford Reserve believes this to be the first Bourbon to use this process since prior to Prohibition and perhaps the first in 150 years.
The resulting 86.4 proof whiskey is a bright amber color. It has a clear maple syrup aroma that opens to reveal oak notes. The flavor hits quickly with some holiday pie spices, hints of almond, more maple, a touch of tart apple and a finish that carries through the oak and some raw grains around the edge.
I still rate the Woodford Four Grain as one of the best Bourbons I've had in recent years and the 1838 Sweet Mash is a very respectable addition to the series. There are 1,045 cases of the Bourbon being sold in 25 U.S. markets and Canada at $90 a bottle.