Woodford Reserve at Bar Adagio!
This past Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend a meeting at Bar Adagio in San Francisco with Master Distiller of Woodford Reserve, Chris Morris. He is an absolute stand up gentleman, extremely nice and obviously knows his Bourbon. I have never had so much fun learning about the process of making and aging bourbon. The meeting was put on by the USBG of Northern California and Brown Foreman. Breakfast was served in rare form and you could choose from damn near anything. All the culinary creations were cooked in or with Woodford Reserve including French toast, syrup, bacon, pork sliders and desserts. As we were eating, we had 3 tasters of bourbon poured for us; Woodford Reserve, Old Forrester 86 and Old Forrester Signature.
I was surprised to find out that Old Forrester was actually endorsed by the most prominent and respected doctor in Kentucky. Dr. William Forrester held a degree in medicine and in surgery and since he endorsed the bourbon, Old Forrester was one of the only distilleries to stay open during prohibition from 1920-1933, which makes it the oldest brand in the United States. This was also the first bourbon to advertise its product starting in 1881 and was carried in 18 states. Old Forrester is 86 proof and it consists of 72% corn, 18% Rye and 10% malted barley. It is aged around 4-5 years in new barrels.
Tasting notes on this bourbon are very clean and dry, which might be due in part to their usage of purified water by reverse osmosis. It is soured at 12% and uses a 1B grown yeast strain which takes 5 days to ferment. It is then double distilled, first at 140 proof and then once again at 125 proof and then bottled in new charred oak casks. You get clove, nutmeg and all spice on the nose and a really nice smooth, velvety finish.
Old Forrester Signature is a 100 proof bourbon. It was created by George Garvin Brown. He and the company were the first to sell bourbon at 100 proof. This bourbon is a lot darker in color than the 86 proof, since they use older barrels to age the 100 proof in. There is maple and brown sugar on the palate and a finish of light smoke and cooked apples. Old Forrester and Woodford Reserve are the only bourbon distillery in America that make their own barrels. They have been doing this since 1940, which is when the distillery was bought.
Woodford Reserve was launched in 1996 and was created to give whiskey drinkers a bourbon with flavor profiles everyone could enjoy. Since they owned part of Bushmills and Glenmorangie, distillers asked Irish and Scotch distillers how they could better their product. The result of all their collaboration was Woodford Reserve bourbon. This bourbon is made in copper pot stills. 94% of the mash is fresh grained and the mash has a fruity smell to it. The water used for the mash is fresh limestone springwater from the land the distillery is built on. It is so pure, that the FDA approves it. The mash ferments for 6-7 days, which is the longest you can ferment. The bourbon is then distilled 3 times, first at 138, then 110 and finally ends up at 90.4 proof. It then spends 7 years in oak casks and it is then batched according to flavor.
From Woodford Reserve bourbon you get a dark maple brown color. Dried sweet fruits with cooked banana first hit your nose. Then you can taste a nutty caramel, anise, cocoa and tobacco lingers late on the palate.
This was definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had at an industry event. Everyone at USBG Norcal always does such a phenomenal job. From the few events I have been to, they’re always informative about what’s going on in the industry, products and most of all FUN! I can’t wait for tomorrow….Germain Robin road trip!!!