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Woodford Reserve Master's Collection 1838 Style White Corn

Posted on by Eric Burke

Once a year, Woodford Reserve releases a new whiskey in its Master’s Collection Line. Each release is a an expression of curiosity and experimentation. Woodford likes to tout its “five sources of flavor: (water, grain, fermentation, distillation and maturation).” In each release of the Master’s Collection they change one of those five things. Previous years have mostly included changing either the grain or the maturation, though there was one year where they did a sweet mash fermentation instead of the typical sour mash. 

I’d love to see them come out with a version where they change out the water. Not because I’d want to buy it, necessarily. But I’d love to see every pundit on the internet explode when they release the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: Bardstown Water edition for $100. 

After changing the maturation last year with a Pinot Noir finish, this year they are continuing the Tick-Tock of changing grain and maturation by changing the grain from yellow corn to white corn. This is exactly the type of experimentation I like. It is a seemingly minor change that may or may not make a huge difference.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: 1838 Style White Corn

Purchase Info: $89.99 for 750mL bottle at McDonald’s Liquors, Minneapolis, MN.

Details: 45.2% ABV

Nose: Juicy tropical fruits which transition to dusty, earthy corn and oak.

Mouth: Dusty corn and oak, cayenne, tropical fruits and baking spices.

Finish: More tropical fruits and then a slightly bitter dusty corn along with a lingering gentle heat. 

Not good, not bad...just kinda meh.

Thoughts: This isn’t terribly different than the normal release of Woodford Reserve. It’s a little rougher around the edges. It has a bit more earthiness and funk to it. It is certainly more interesting, though in this case that isn’t exactly a good thing since I find the regular release tastier in its understated way. 

This is a whiskey where I find my opinion changing as the conditions I’m drinking it in change. I liked it the first time I had it in a normal rocks glass. When I did the tasting notes, I hated it. I wrote things in my notes like: “it’s hard to pay $100 for interesting when you realize you need to choke down the rest of the bottle.” As I normally do, I’m having a little more as I write about it (drinking not tasting) and my opinion has swung back toward my initial reaction. 

It’s ok. It’s interesting. It’s also overpriced since it tastes like a rougher and less refined version of the regular release. But for all of that, it is mildly recommended if you like seeing the results of experimentation. Because I think this will tend to be a like it or hate it sort of whiskey, I’d try it in a bar first. It’s too pricey to just flat out recommend.


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