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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we try a new whiskey release that combines some of the best that Kentucky and California have to offer.

The good folks at Brown-Forman are trying some interesting things with their Bourbon brands. I have previously written about their Old Forester Birthday Bourbon efforts and they have just released the second in the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection line up.

Last year it was Woodford Reserve Four Grain, a highly accalaimed product that was one of my favorite spirits products of 2006. This year they have rolled out Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish. Happily, I was able to obtain a tasting sample of this limited bottling.

Only 900 cases of this $89.99 a bottle whiskey were made and, like the Four Grain, it should sell out fairly quickly. The distillery is shipping the product to just 17 states and Washington, D.C.

Bottled at 86.4 proof the Bourbon is first aged in new charred oak barrels, then finished in barrels that were previously used to age Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay. The result is a very smooth drink. There is a bit of honey and wood in the nose, that finishes with some smooth oak, a touch of butterscotch and even hints of roasted almond.

This offering in the Master's Collection is not as assertive as the Four Grain release, but it is attractively mellow. Brown-Forman is following the lead of several Scotch distilleries that have released special wood finishes. This wood finishing practice allows distillers to experiment and find niches to attract new customers. For consumers it offers a lesson in the importance of wood barrels of the finished spirit.

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