Revisiting: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, selected by Richard III

Single Barrel picked by Plumpjack Wines & Spirits (2019)
Nicknamed “Richard III”

MASH BILL – 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% barley

PROOF – 90.4


DISTILLERY – Woodford Reserve Distillery / Brown Forman

PRICE – $70


As a person who works in theater, how could I pass up a bourbon “personally selected by” one of William Shakespeare’s greatest villains, Richard III? Of course, it wasn’t actually a theater character who picked it, but the spirits buyer at Plumpjack Wines & Spirits in San Francisco. 

Back in June when I first uncorked this bottle, I snapped a pic of it outside on the back stoop in the sunlight, to capture its extraordinarily rich color. The color was the bourbon’s most immediately striking feature. Recently, I noticed I hadn’t been going back to this bottle much. I remembered it having something more than color to offer. So I decided to revisit it. Here are some brief notes:

COLOR – dark maple, copper, brown-orange amber

NOSE – autumnal and sweet, tangy maple, chutney with plump juicy raisins, an ex-red wine barrel’s oakiness

TASTE – oak, dark juicy raisins, a touch of that red wine barrel at the edges

FINISH – even darker juicy raisins, with the red wine oak barrel gently fading and an almost cooling heat that lingers…

OVERALL – consistent, sweet, tastes red-wine-barrel finished though it’s not

The color indeed remains this bottle’s deepest, most intriguing aspect. It seems to shift in endless and subtle variations in the light, not unlike the chameleonic personality of Richard III himself. But getting into the nose, taste, and finish, this single barrel pick feels more Lady Anne than Richard III. The flavors are pretty and sweet, more interesting on the nose and finish than the palate. It’s a nice, easy bourbon, uncomplicated by either wit or brooding. The second barreling does add an extra oak note that the regular Woodford Reserve doesn’t have, yet not enough to overpower the prominent fruitiness.

After airing out for two+ months, it has remained consistent in its profile at this third tasting. Back at the second tasting, I’d sampled it after some sherried Highland scotches. It fit right in, tasting very much like a bourbon finished in red wine casks. Unlike the scotches, which clearly had coloring added, to its credit this Woodford tastes very naturally what it is: simple, straightforward red wine and sweet juicy raisin flavors. Not my favorite flavor profile. But when I’m in the mood for uncomplicated autumnal sweetness, or a red wine substitute, this will do fine. 

This is a notable step up from the standard Woodford Reserve. Though I don’t need another bottle given the price-to-experience ratio, I’ll gradually and contentedly finish this one off. Maybe I’ll serve it when I’m having meaty Italian or Spanish dishes, which pair well with the red wines this bourbon could almost pass for in a distracted moment…!

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