Woodford Reserve Bourbon Review: In-Depth Guide (2023)

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Woodford Reserve has been introducing whiskey expressions from the spirits company Brown Forman–building a fan base worldwide.

While many fanatics are impressed with the brand’s spirits, others feel it’s overrated. 

So, as your sound source of liquor insights, we conducted this Woodford Reserve bourbon review to make a fair judgment based on our actual experience.

Sounds interesting? Keep scrolling.  

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review


Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is your standard American bourbon, very accessible, and one of the reputable brands in the whiskey industry. 

The overall profile and character can be a bit complex but ordinary. So it suits experienced drinkers looking for a classic yet versatile whiskey. 

It has a combination of sweet, rich wood and oak flavors, bottled at 90.4-proof. This budget-friendly bourbon is perfect as a daily sipper or a cocktail mixer. 

Quick Facts 

DistilleryWoodford Reserve Distillery (Brown Forman)
Classification & RegionBourbon/Kentucky
Alcohol Proof90.4
Mash Bill72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley
Age StatementNAS
Rating3-Star (Mid-Shelf)
Average PriceAround $30-$60 (MSRP)

What’s Woodford Reserve Bourbon?

Woodford Reserve bourbons are distilled within the Woodford Reserve Distillery – a known National Historic Landmark [1].  

Specifically, the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select uses some of the column still spirits from the Brownman Forman Distillery combined with the pot still whiskey from the Woodford Reserve Distillery.

Unlike other bourbons, this bourbon whiskey is triple-distilled in pot stills, creating the quintessential bourbon flavors drinkers enjoy today. 

“Maturation in a new, charred oak barrel provides Woodford Reserve with all of its natural color and a great deal of its award-winning flavor.”

— Chris Morris, Master Distiller

The flavor balance of the bourbon’s tasting notes made it the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, representing Brown Forman, who also owns the Old Forester and Jack Daniel’s.  

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Tasting Notes 

Man Holding Bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon


A grainy scent welcomes the nose, but a slight hint of sweetness from vanilla and honey notes follows soon after. There are also some notes of dried corn, mint, fruits, and nut. 

Right off the nose, we expect this to be a thick, creamy straight bourbon whiskey. 


We tasted the light flavors of sweet honey upfront; then, there were citrus notes along the rye and oak spice. 

But soon after, we noticed the winter spice (cinnamon, cloves) flavor gently mixing with the sweet honey and vanilla cream flavors. 


The high rye content is noticeable on the finish. There’s a bit of complexity with the charred wood and ryes mixing with the sweet vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel hints, but it’s smooth.  

There are also some floral notes, making the finish a bit confusing, but it’s quite a good balance if you don’t mind the burnt oakiness, 

Our Thoughts 

First Sip

As soon as the scent welcomed our noses, we were certain this whiskey was full of sweet, oak, and barrel-like flavors. 

The rye spice wasn’t noticeable initially, as it was more on the sweet side. But on the palate down to the finish, it was more on wood, rye, and oak spices.  

Second Chance

The second time we had a taste – the sweetness was really the welcoming note in this bottle. Then, the complexity started on the palate to the finish, with the taste getting dark as we proceeded. 

We get this kind of experience in other whiskies, too, so it’s not new. There are more terrible than this, so this isn’t that bad. 

Why We Like It

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Bottle and a Glass on Top of Table
  • The rye content of this bourbon is relatively higher than other bourbons in this range, so it’s something to commend. 
  • It’s distilled thrice, so we taste the smoothness and wheel of flavors. 
  • Although it’s NAS, it’s speculated to be between 6-7 years, which is quite mature. 


  • For beginners, this is a complex whiskey. The burnt oak flavor can be overwhelming.
  • The variety of flavors present in this bottle can be quite confusing. (But for experienced ones, you’re probably used to this roundup of flavors.)
  • Nothing fancy; it’s just the usual bourbon whiskey (except for the making process). 

Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bourbon Rating

We give three stars to this bourbon drink. It’s a good everyday whiskey since it’s affordable.

Besides, this bottle is a good option if you don’t want to spend much on a cocktail mixer. 

Additionally, it’s widely available. If you’re looking for whiskey to serve for your upcoming events, you might want to consider other brands, but it’s up to you, still.  

To Sip Or Skip? 

Man Holding Bottle of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

If you’re looking for an excellent drink or something beyond the usual, we suggest you skip it, particularly the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select.

We recommend better whiskey expressions like:

  • Wild Turkey Bourbon
  • Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

But we’ve tried the Woodford Double Oaked [2], and it’s good. If you ask for a bottle to sip from the Woodford Reserve, that would be the Double Oaked bourbon.  

Although it’s quite pricey than other expressions from the Woodford, it’s a great value for money and easy drinking bourbon. 

You’ll get the same notes we detailed above, but this one is slightly more balanced with the right complexity. 


Is Woodford Reserve considered good bourbon?

Woodford Reserve is one of the good bourbons in terms of quality and reputation.

The flavor profile and character depend on the drinker’s style and preference. Taste is subjective, so it can be good for you but not for others. 

What is special about Woodford Reserve?

What’s special about Woodford Reserve is its triple-distillation process, using combined stills from its own distillery and Brown Forman Distillery.

Also, the production took place in one of the National Historic Landmarks in Woodford County.   

Do you drink Woodford Reserve straight?

Yes, you can drink Woodford Reserve straight, on the rocks, and over ice. We also suggest trying it in cocktails. 

How is Woodford Reserve best served?

Woodford Reserve is best served on the rocks and straight. 

How long does Woodford Reserve bourbon last after opening?

Woodford Reserve bourbon may last 1-2 years open. But, still, it depends on how you store it. 

Is Woodford Reserve bourbon good on the rocks?

Yes, Woodford Reserve is good on the rocks, and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy this bourbon if you want to avoid some off-notes or complexity. 

Final Thoughts

Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey is a mid-shelf whiskey and the typical American type of spirit. There’s nothing out of the ordinary regarding its profile and character. 

It’s not for beginners, as it tends to be complex (depending on your style). It’s not bad, but there are many better options—within the same price range.      



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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