Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Elizabeth O'Neill led us through the proper tasting methods, including how to properly nose the aroma, why you don't give it a big swirl as you would with a wine tasting, and how to sip the whiskey for optimal taste.
I loved the Sweet Mash Redux. This bourbon had a really sweet, fruity up-front note that was extremely pleasant and reminiscent of an Irish whiskey. I'd recommend this for a fan of Bushmills or Jameson, anyone who loves fruity notes of apple, pear, or cherry, or those who often complain that bourbons have a harsh taste.
The second whiskey we sampled was Double Double Oaked. A variant of the popular Double Oaked label, this bourbon was aged an additional year. A lot of folks at the tasting detected deep, spicy notes in this one. At first, I found it very unstructured with a strong burn. However, when paired with the cheesecake samples we were provided, it was delightfully spicy against the brown sugar crust.
One of my favorite aspects of attending Woodford Reserve tastings is the way that they integrate food to influence flavors. They've developed a fascinating flavor wheel, and they always put great care into choosing food that works with a particular bourbon. Of course, it doesn't hurt when, like last night, the food was chosen by brilliant local chef Ouita Michel.
After the tasting, we moved to the lawn for drinks, snacks, music, and a fabulous display of basket charring.
My cousin Amy and her husband joined us for the festivities!
Chris and Elizabeth used hay from American Pharoah's stall to light the barrel, which was allowed to burn for seven seconds, leaving the barrel "toasted."
The air was filled with a magical scent of roasted marshmallows; it was such a fantastic sensory experience and really illustrated how the toasted barrels produce the rich, caramel-vanilla finish for which Woodford Reserve is known.
Thanks so much to Original Makers Club and Woodford Reserve for the fabulous party and delicious samples!