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I was recently passing through Gatwick Airport and happened upon an American whiskies section, which happened to be giving out tasters of some of the more expensive varieties. Now, in the past I have been partial to a drop of Jack Daniels and it was all that got me through a particularly bad bout of toothache. So, as I was not driving at the other end, I joined the bar and had a few tastes. There was a bottle of Gentleman Jack, the premium version of Jack Daniels and that was a lovely mellow drop. However, I then tried the Woodford Reserve and I was blown away. I didn't buy this immediately but, upon seeing it on sale in Tesco, I decided to buy a bottle.
First things first. Mine came in a nifty cuboid card box in dark brown with subtle reddish brown lettering. It opened in an unusual way, in that it hinged away from the bottom to create a V-shaped opening that the bottle is removed from. Cleverly, the box doesn't open too far, so the bottle can be lifted out safely. The bottle is, as pictured, a flask shape in clear glass to allow the golden-brown liquid to be clearly visible. The lettering is white, which shows up well against the liquid. In small print on the lower labelling it announces that this whiskey was specially selected and mine came from batch 87, bottle number 10767.
Pouring a measure into a glass you get an aroma that is obviously a spirit but is quite subtle. There are hints of smokiness in the nose and it is quite pleasant. Upon taking a sip, you can taste the same smoky flavour but this is much more subtle than its cheaper cousins. American whiskies have a different flavour note than Scotch or Irish varieties, due in part to the majority corn grain used in the production.
This is sold as a Straight Bourbon whiskey, which means specific things. Bourbon has to be produced in the United States and must be 51% minimum of corn. It must be matured in new charred-oak barrels. It is distilled to 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof,) is barrelled at 62.5% ABV ( 125 Proof) and is bottled at no less than 40% ABV (80 Proof.) In the case of this whiskey it is 43.2% ABV. Unlike other whiskies, it is not always aged for a specific time period, only needing to be 3 months old before being sold as bourbon. If it is labelled as, "Straight" (like this one) then it is usually over 4 years aged and must state if it is younger than that. (This doesn't!) Incidentally, I discovered that Jack Daniels isn't strictly a bourbon whiskey, due to an extra process they do. All this time I had been calling it bourbon at least in my own head...
Now would I recommend this? The answer is a most emphatic yes. It is so far beyond the standard shop bought American Whiskies that is something that I would happily drink neat each and every time. Its smooth flavour allows this to be sipped and savoured, though you could mix it with cola etc. If you like the type of whiskey it is one to try and also worth a try if you wanted to give bourbon a go. Now, at its standard price it is a touch pricey at around £30-35. However, lots of special offers are around right now and I believe it is reduced in a number of places. It was around £9 off in Tesco and made it a reasonable purchase at £26. In terms of price I feel that this is a fairer price for it, as I'm not sure I would have paid the higher price for it. In terms of flavour I would give it 5 stars but would have to take a star off if it is sold at a higher price. As it wasn't I feel happy to give it the full 5.