If there's one thing I love more than good whiskey, it's good food. I think that's why I've always been fascinated by Woodford Reserve's flavor wheel style of tastings.
Every distillery has "their thing" -- the story they tell about their product. Woodford Reserve's thing is telling a story about the separate notes within the bourbon as well as the different tastes that you can pick up depending on your own palate and the flavors accompanying the spirit. I've had the opportunity to enjoy Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select in a flavor wheel tasting twice now -- once at Midway's Holly Hill Inn a few years ago, and once earlier this summer at an event led by Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Elizabeth O'Neill. Let me tell y'all, Elizabeth and Chris are great at leading a group through a tasting!
The Woodford Reserve Tasting Wheel breaks the flavor notes that you're likely to encounter within a taste of bourbon into five categories -- Wood, Grain, Sweet Aromatics, Spice, and Fruit & Floral. Of course, there are hundreds of individual tastes and aromas you may pick up on from within those categories.
The key to a flavor wheel tasting is to marry bites of different foods with sips of the whiskey to encourage the detection of different notes. The first selection is parmesan cheese, which brings out a woody, nutty flavor. Next is hazelnut, similarly nutty, of course. Next comes cranberry, which brings fruit and floral notes, followed by orange -- both peel and pulp -- for additional fruit and floral notes. Then comes chocolate -- a well-selected dark chocolate -- which highlights notes of aromatics and spice in the bourbon. Finally, a tiny spoon of sorghum spotlights the aromatics and grains within the whiskey. It's so interesting to taste the different aromas and flavors emerging from the whiskey, and really deepens your knowledge of how to taste whiskey.
There are variants for of the tasting wheel for each of Woodford Reserve's spirits -- Distiller's Select bourbon, Double Oaked bourbon, and Rye. Check out the Woodford Reserve website for tips on dong an at-home tasting!