When firing on all cylinders, the notes quietly climax on the palate.On other occasions, the bourbon is classic and wonderfully pungent, but slightly offset by a bitter finish.It was Crow who discovered sour mash fermentation, a method still employed to this day in the bourbon industry.Meanwhile, the distillery itself remains one of the oldest and smallest in all of Kentucky, complete with National Historic Landmark status.As such, Cherry Wood Smoked Barley whisky touts a mashbill with 30% malted barley, much higher than most bourbons.To deliver even deeper, richer and smokier flavours, the malted barley was exposed to cherry wood smoke during the kilning process.
Meanwhile, James Crow’s name still looms large over the brand’s legacy.Among the range of limited edition offerings is Woodford Reserve’s Cherry Wood Smoked Barley bourbon.We gave it a taste and then made it our Spirit of the Month for November 2017. Drive eight miles outside of Versailles in north-central Kentucky, and you’ll find Woodford Reserve Distillery nestled amidst the rolling hills and farmland.Likewise, the distillery stands as a testament to the timeless ritual of quality bourbon making, the Master’s Collection in particular relying heavily on old school practices.
Inside the distillery you’ll find a 500-foot-long gravity-fed barrel run, copper pot stills, 100-year-old cypress wood fermenters and one of the only heat cycled barrelhouses in the world.
On some tastings, cherry pie sweetness dominated while ingredients like barley seemed somewhat muted.