On a trip to the big city recently, Asda had Woodford Reserve bourbon reduced to £23 from £30.
This was a very good offer, so I had to have some, and share my observations as we don’t hear so much about bourbon in Britain.
The first thing that hits you with Woodford Reserve is the beautiful bottle.
That wide but shallow design, coupled with the small labels, creates a minimalist classic.
(I will of course be peeling off the labels and using it for my sloe gin in a few weeks. Or as a decanter.)
The whiskey is a bright honey colour, and after swirling it round my brandy glass, the nose had a bit of honey there too.
There is a hint of sweetness, a sniff of dried fruit, a whiff of smoke, a slap of leather.
It smells nice.
Drinking it neat, it is a surprisingly smooth drink.
The most striking thing for me was the taste of the rye.
It’s made from 18% rye, which isn’t huge, but the taste is really clear and unusual at first to a single malt drinker.
It gives a warming spiciness, which combines with the slightly sweet, fruity taste.
It gradually fades into a long, lingering finish, leaving a warm glow.
If you see this on offer anywhere for under £30, I’d definitely recommend buying some.
It is a complex drink, with the rye throwing up extra interest.
Woodford Reserve is often spoken of as ideal for making into an Old Fashioned cocktail, so I got me some maraschino cherries from Morrisons and dived in.
I mixed a tea spoon of light brown sugar with a little water in a tumbler and gave it a good stir.
Then I added six splashes of Angustora bitters, and then put in a cherry and a slice of orange.
I gave these a good pounding in the glass (use a chunky glass here!), then fished out the bigger bits of fruit, squeezed out any juice, and ate them.
Finally I added a generous double Woodford, a cube of ice, and a final maraschino cherry.
This is an easy, very unfussy cocktail
Unlike the Martini, it doesn’t change much and has remained a boozy treat. Maybe that’s why it was popular with Don Draper (and cigarettes were still safe then too!)
It’s not the prettiest cocktail – it’s murky and lacking in pizazz – but it’s a very good drink.
Unlike many cocktails, you can still taste that bourbon clearly, particularly the rye which cuts through bold as brass.
The process makes it a little sweeter, rounding off the edges, maybe taking a little off the nose (perhaps because of the chilling).
The orange and cherry give a citrus kick and fit well with this bourbon.
And at the end, that lingering Woodford boozy finish comes back to remind you that this is a proper drink.
You get that pulse of warmth, without having to have neat bourbon, if you find it too fiery, although you are losing a good bit of the complexity.
And at the end you get the lovely marinated cherry.
Well, is it a waste of good bourbon?
Not if you get it on offer, and it’s your money, after all.
A bottle of this, a jar of cherries, and a bottle of bitters will give you a very pleasant time.
The easy drinkability is a problem, though.
After two martinis, you know you’ve had a lot to drink.
After two of these, I felt I was just getting going, and Bethan had to lead me away firmly.
You are drinking big measure, but it tastes like pop.
Woodford Reserve is worth trying neat, or in a cocktail.
I’d get some in, if I were you.