The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 123 of 140

october 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  123 The World of Woodford Reserve With rolling green pastures and horses peppered across the horizon, the land surrounding the Woodford Reserve distillery is, undeniably, bourbon country. Master Distiller Chris Morris makes the hour trip between the distillery and labs at Brown-Forman's HQ several times a week, in order to taste, nose and observe every aspect of the whiskey's production. It's tough work, but Morris knows each day will have lasting repercussions: "What we're making today, people won't be drinking for years. This is the future of Woodford Reserve," he comments. Since launching the brand in 1996, Morris and the Woodford Reserve team have turned this pot-distilled bourbon into one of the leading calls in the whiskey world, but this brand has its eyes clearly trained on the future, turning to Master Tasters like Elizabeth O'Neill to continue to move the brand forward. Woodford Reserve Chef in Residence Ouita Michel has developed a food flavor wheel for Woodford Reserve Rye that helps visitors better understand and translate bourbon tasting notes. Here, she pairs the rye with pear, apple, orange, toasted almond, pear butter, local honey, dark chocolate and cardamom- infused chocolate, all of which are apparent on the palate. Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Elizabeth O'Neill taste each wash in various states of open tank fermentation. Morris refers to employees like O'Neill as the future leaders for Woodford Reserve, and the two walk the distillery grounds like a seasoned mentor and his protégée. "Someone like Elizabeth could very well be the next Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve," admits Morris. For her part, O'Neill, who found her way into supertasting from the world of psychology, "would love the opportu- nity" to be among the wave of women leading the future of whiskey. In a completely mechanized system, Woodford Reserve barrel heads are charred before follow- ing an assembly line and being hammered into place by specially trained coopers. Cooperage Production Manager Chad Ruch touches a freshly steamed bar- rel, heating and softening the wood in order to make it pliable enough to place the hoops and force the barrel into its final shape.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - October 2015