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NOSE-ABLES hile Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris certainly believes great whiskey is the result of hard work and respect for traditional methods, now and then he likes to let what’s left of his hair down and have a little fun. And with the Master’s Collection, Morris gets to do just that. Woodford Reserve Maple Finish W Released periodically beginning in 2005, these limited-supply offerings have been produced in some unusual ways. The first, Four Grain, was made with corn, wheat, rye and malted barley. Next came Sonoma-Cutrer Finish, aged in Chardonnay casks. That was followed by Sweet Mash, then Seasoned Oak, aged in wood that spent years being “seasoned” by the elements. The latest whiskey is the most ambitious to date. Woodford Reserve Maple Wood Finish (SRP $89.99) is the first commercial bourbon aged in sugar maple wood. Indeed, it was long assumed maple wood was too dense to be crafted into barrels. The resourceful coopers at Brown-Forman proved that supposition wrong. Maple Wood Finish is a frisky whiskey that is seriously flavorful—sweet, but not cloyingly so, with a crisp fruity finish. It’s also quite nutty, which is what some folks probably said about Morris’s Master’s Collection experiment in the beginning. Bet they aren’t saying that anymore. —Dan Dunn New Courvoisier Expressions R eleased in October, the Courvoisier Connoisseur Collection revolutionizesthe category by declaring an age right on the bottle, making Courvoisier the first of four major cognac houses to introduce a product with an age statement. The handsomely packaged collection consists of floral, spicy Courvoisier 12 (SRP $49.99), primarily selected from the Borderies, and rich, aromatic Courvoisier 21 (SRP $250), sourced from Grande Champagne. The jewel in the Courvoisier crown is L’Essence de Courvoisier (SRP $3,000), a rare combination of more than 100 eaux-de-vie, some dating back as far as the early 20th century. The Baccarat decanter has a crystal stopper inspired by the signet rings that Napoléon bestowed upon favored military commanders. L’Essence is the lasting legacy of Courvoisier’s fifth Master Blender, Jean-Marc Olivier. Courvoisier is imported by Beam Global Spirits & Wine. 28 / the tasting panel / november 2010 The first maple wood barrels ever were crafted for this Woodford Reserve release. It was long assumed maple wood was too dense to be crafted into barrels.” PHOTO: DAN DUNN

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