I’ve loved good food for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved cooking for most of my adult life. I wasn’t always very good at it, at least not at first, but I was extremely enthusiastic. So much so that I spent almost 20 years improving and perfecting a recipe for homemade pizza sauce, starting with the recipe, then growing tomatoes, then growing multiple breeds of tomatoes. There were false starts and restarts, but once I had something that was as good as I could get it…I moved onto the crust. I learned so much, from the biology of keeping a sourdough starter alive (7 years and counting now) to how various baking temperatures affect crust texture and density.
You might have guessed this already, but I’m a bit obsessive about subjects that fascinate me.
So yeah, I like to cook and I love the science behind it. The book Cooking for Geeks was written just for people like me. One thing that I always wanted to try was sous vide cooking. If you are unaware, this is cooking that uses a circulating hot water bath to cook your food to a precise temperature and keep it there long enough to kill the harmful bacteria that might be in undercooked food, especially if you are like me and like your meat a bit on the rare side (in a complete oversimplification: killing the little nasties is a function of both temperature and time, the lower the temperature, the longer you will need to hold it at that temperature to kill off the buggers).
To that end, I recently bought myself a gadget that I have fallen in love with. I bought the Anova Precision Cooker. This thing allows me to seal some meat in a bag, drop it in the water and come back in a few hours to finish off the meat in a skillet (can’t miss out on the crispy crunch goodness of a Maillard reaction). In fact, once I am done here, I’ll be doing just that with the pork chops I started a few hours ago.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, what if anything does this have to do with whiskey? And I’ll be honest, I really just wanted to recommend that product to people because it has upped the quality of the steaks and chops served in my house by leaps and bounds. But I do have a reason it popped into my mind tonight, other than hunger. One of the reasons I love cooking is that it is a weird blend of both science and art. Which is the exact reason I love whiskey. You can know the science, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to experiment to figure out how to apply it. And experimentation leads to trying new things and learning new things.
Which leads me into what is in my glass tonight. For the last couple of years, Woodford Reserve has been putting out distillery-only experimental whiskeys. These aren’t always ground-breaking. They are releasing a Bottled-in-Bond bourbon soon. Bottled-in-Bond is about as old fashioned as you can get, yet it is a departure for the brand. By definition it has to be distilled at one distillery, and Woodford is usually a product of juice distilled in both the Woodford Reserve Pot Stills and the Old Forester Column Still. It will be an interesting product when it comes out.
But tonight I’m sipping on a Rye that made its way home with me on my last trip to Kentucky. Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Barrel Finished Rye. This is a Rye whiskey that started life just like any other Woodford Rye. It was aged in a new charred oak barrel. For the whiskey that ended up in these bottles though, there was a second heavily toasted new barrel used to age it a second time. Think Double Oaked without the light charring on the second barrel.
Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Barrel Finished Rye
Purchase Info: $49.99 for a 375 mL bottle at the distillery gift shop.
Details: 45.2% ABV. Rye whiskey finished in new heavily toasted barrels
Nose: Mint, candied apple, maple, floral rye bread, and leathery oak notes
Mouth: Fairly gentle for a rye. Floral mint dominates at first with baking spices and dried fruit showing up after a bit.
Finish: Spicy and warm. Floral rye bread notes linger along with a nice sweetness.
Thoughts: This is a pretty good rye. I like it more than the standard Woodford Rye. It is sweeter and has a nicer mouthfeel. If this were a regular release that was priced similarly to Double Oaked, I’d certainly be picking it up now and then.
BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!