Friday Tastings: Wood-Finished Bourbon

Wood finishes—a category whose name refers to the practice of transferring a whiskey to a different type of barrel for extra aging—have been popular with Scotch makers for years. These days, us Yanks are getting into the finishing game. Case in point: this new Woodford Reserve, the latest in the distillery’s “Master’s Collection” series, which is finished in sugar maple wood barrels. Let’s set the record straight: Bourbon, to qualify as bourbon, doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky (that’s a misconception which, zombie-like, refuses to die). But it does need to be aged in new charred oak. This Woodford Reserve is the first bourbon ever to then be finished in maple, and that sugar-rich wood adds a delicious dimension to the whiskey. It’s fragrant and light, with appealing hints of brown sugar and maple syrup, but keeps things interesting with a surprisingly zesty, cinnamon-charged finish. A unique hooch to savor—and at $90 a bottle, we imagine you’ll want to (savor, that is).


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