From the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection, this is a Kentucky bourbon finished in American brandy casks for up to two years. The nose is slightly woody, with aromas of chocolate, cinnamon and light caramel. On the palate there are notes of raisins, figs and ripe banana, with spicy gingerbread and heady caramel and vanilla notes. The finish is gentle and woody, a long lingering finish that doesn’t overpower.
While the nose and palate do a good job of helping highlight the brandy finishing on the whiskey, the finish reminds me more of a standard Woodford Reserve finish. Gone is the berry sweetness found in the nose and palate. Instead, a lingering buttery finish is present that provides a quick hit of green apple, hay, grass, and dried raisins before slowly mellowing out to light oak. It peters out into a drier astringent note, which almost ruins the whole experience. Thankfully whiskeys aren’t determined after just one sip. After sitting with it for a while and getting acclimated to it, the astringent note becomes less and less overpowering and more a slight flaw rather than something that really takes away from the experience.
Flavor wise, Brandy Cask Finish delivers a pleasant surprise. The flavor profile is one solidly rooted in the Woodford’s lineage, but enhanced to pull a more fruit forward flavor profile vs the more predominant grain found in standard Woodford Reserve. While Woodford Reserve is usually nothing to write home about, the brandy finishing ever so slightly enhances it into a more exciting product. It may not blow you away, but in a side by side comparison to standard Woodford Reserve, it’s definitely a more pleasant drinking experience.