Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey breaks from tradition with two malt whiskeys. One of the whiskeys was aged in charred new oak—the typical production method for bourbon. The other, as is typical for Scotch, in used casks. The departure from the norm is that both of these whiskeys are malts, something that doesn’t happen in the U.S., and especially not in Kentucky.
Both are made from 100 percent malted barley mash and then triple distilled in copper pot stills. Woodford stays true to their normal aging process of a minimum of nine years. While the names “straight malt” and “classic malt” are used to distinguish the two, the real distinction comes from the look and smell of the whiskeys. The classic has a rich, gold hue while the straight is deeper in color. The aroma is also peculiar to each, with the smell of new and old oak being prevalent respectively.
The approach is an interesting departure from tradition—especially since the Woodford Reserve tradition goes all the way back to 1838, when Revered Elijah Craig established what became Kentucky’s oldest bourbon distillery still in operation today. Craig turned the reins over to his oldest son, Oscar Pepper, and master distiller James Crow. The two reformed and modernized the process to what it is today. Chris Morris, Woodford’s seventh master distiller, distilled the new reserve malts in homage to the innovation of the company’s founders. The straight malt whiskeys are actually the eight iteration of the master’s collection series.