Woodford Reserve Bourbon Review

photo credit: WoodfordReserve.com


Proof: 90.4
Age: 6 – 7 years old
Woodford Reserve Distillery: Brown – Forman
Master Distiller: Chris Morris

4.2 (83.08%) 39 votes

Woodford Reserve Bourbon is the best bourbon whiskey for new enthusiasts. It’s easy to please and a year-round sipper. A must for every bourbon collection!

If you haven’t tasted Woodford Reserve Bourbon yet, you have been hiding under a rock. In my experience as a bartender, this whiskey is oftentimes a bourbon drinker’s introduction to the world of America’s Spirit.

Woodford Reserve is the product of one of the oldest distilleries in the country. Chris Morris, Master Distiller at Brown-Forman, explains the history of the operation and where the name ‘Woodford Reserve’ comes from:

Our distillery site is on its 4th name over 200 years of distilling activity. From 1812 until 1838 it was the Elijah Pepper farm, grist mill and distillery, one of thousands like it scattered over Kentucky. Pepper’s son, Oscar, built our current distillery building in 1838 and named it after himself, The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery. His son, James, sold the operation to Labrot & Graham in 1878. It operated on and off under that name for 126 years.

Our parent company, Brown-Forman, purchased the distillery and renamed it, “Woodford Reserve”, after the county in which it is located – Woodford County, Kentucky. It follows the Scottish single malt distillery tradition of naming the distillery after its location. – Chris Morris

Since 1995, Brown-Forman has produced the pot still  bourbon that we know as Woodford Reserve. The mash bill and processing methods have changed a little over the years, so this review may not reflect the character of older bottles. When Woodford first got started, it was a single malt variant of Old Forester. That affected its character, changing it from a candy shop to a ‘pot still-ish’ character (hows that for snobbish descriptors!)


We know that all bourbons are created from the same six sources of flavor. What makes Woodford Reserve different is the way that Master Distiller Chris Morris expresses each of those flavors. It is rumored that Woodford is crafted with more than 70 different flavor variables taken into consideration.

Lets start with the nose: The first thing that I notice is how reserved Woodford is (see what I did there?) The nose takes some time to come forth, but when it does you know you have a nice whiskey in your glass. The expected oak and rye are there, along with fruity new-make: green apples, green pears, and banana. The sugar and spice shop is there as well – caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon.

The mash bill for Woodford Reserve features a high percentage of rye: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt. This is evident in the first sip, when the fruit nose and spice intermingle in a warm and flavorful whiskey. Mid way through, I get mixed fruit jam and the cinnamon that I picked up in the nose.

Woodford is only 90 proof – not hot at all. In fact, the burn barely registers at first sip. Could be because Woodford Reserve is triple distilled and has the lowest proof upon entering the barrel where it matures for at least six years.

The finish is the only downside to Woodford Reserve. If you know me, you know I like a pleasant finish that lasts. That’s what separates A- bourbons from A+ bourbons in my book. The combination of low proof and triple distilled and aged mellow leaves the finish light, tingly, and mildly metallic.



Woodford Reserve is a proper introduction to bourbon for new drinkers, and is a great old standby for daily sippers or neighbor visits. Experienced bourbonites will look for (and miss) the strong personality that some other ‘A grade’ bourbons possess, but that doesn’t discount the quality of the bourbon. For that, we give Woodford Reserve an B+.

Learn about how we grade bourbons.

The ONLY reason that Woodford Reserve scores a B is that it lacks character in its finish. This is purely subjective, but I like bourbons that have features that stand out. Woodford is tasty. Woodford is smooth. Woodford is made to please. I cant see anyone going wrong with picking up a bottle or two!

The Woodford Reserve price is around $39 for a fifth in most places, so you should be able to indulge on a budget. Get Woodford Reserve delivered to your home or office.

2018-12-08T09:37:41+00:00January 5th, 2018|B RATED BOURBONS, BEST BOURBON REVIEWS, BOURBON REVIEW|7 Comments


  1. chris February 23, 2015 at 10:19 am - Reply

    I too am on a quest to try all Bourbons this year, and ironically all hamburgers. Let me say, I just did Russell’s Reserve small batch and Woodfords reserve. Both great spirits, but probably a B+ in my books. Please review four roses single barrel, that is my high bar so far. It really has a complex flavor, spicy, sweet, citrus, and an oak finish. Russels and Woodfords do their notes exceptionally well, but four roses really contains it all. Stay away from the non-single barrel Four Roses, it’s really bad. Night and day.

    • BourbonDaily February 23, 2015 at 8:27 pm - Reply

      Its funny that you say that, I was just sipping Four Roses last night. Review on the way! I am really proud of what Jim Rutledge has done for the Four Roses brand, and I would agree that in many ways it sets the standard. I can remember when Four Roses was the rot gut of the whiskey world. How times have changed!

      • chris February 23, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

        That’s awesome! I’m glad we agree. The quality drop off from the single barrel to the yellow is pretty dramatic, so they have a ways to go, IMHO. But the single barrel and single barrel limited are probably some of the best spirits I’ve ever tasted. But for now I will suffer through the rest of my Russel’s Reserve bottle, and dream of better days. In hindsight, I can’t believe I spent so much money, time, and effort on Rum, Vodka, and Gin. I mean, good straight bourbon doesn’t need anything, and it is delicious. Thanks for the blog and getting the word out, I’ll try and buy another bottle and convert more friends. It’s strange that only a select few people I know, comb the liquor stores for Four Roses small batch or the precious limited. Good luck, I’ll keep reading, maybe you’ll find another diamond in the rough before me.

  2. Brian Brochard July 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    I wish to join the “try all bourbons club.” I have been drinking bourbon since I was 18 & my taste and wallet have aged. Started out with Jack Daniels, but loved Wild Turkey. Wild Turkey Rare Breed 108 proof was my favorite. Have read articles and reviews for 40 years and still searching for the perfect bourbon. I have one for mixing and one for sipping. My mixing is Virginia Gentleman , double distilled 80 proof and started out at BuffAlo Trace. Still searching for the prefect sipping bourbon. Woodford Reserve is a fine bourbon, but not memorable. I would rate it a “B.” Nothing about it makes it stand out against most Buffalo Trace bourbons, Elmer T. Lee, Eagle Rare. If I am going to buy a 90 proof bourbon, I would not but Woodford, I would buy Eagle Rare

  3. Paula August 6, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    1st time trier, last time buyer. Tastes like black velvet in an expensive bottle.

  4. Ben August 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I find this stuff to be all over the place. The first bottle I tried was going to make me swear off all other bourbons. The second one made me wonder what the heck I was thinking. This had led me to purchase this in 50 ml bottles only and I find those to be all over the place as well, but at least if I get a bad 50 ml bottle I’m only out a couple bucks, not $40.

  5. comRonald Remy July 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    The first Bourban I tried was Woodsford Reserve. I liked it so much, I never tried any others. Too me it is perfect. Been drinking it about 5 years.

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