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Woodford Reserve Bourbon Review: In-Depth Guide (2024)

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Review 

Last Updated on March 16, 2024 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. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Woodford Reserve considered good?

Yes, Woodford Reserve is widely regarded as an excellent bourbon whiskey by both enthusiasts and experts alike.

Its reputation stems from its meticulous production process, which includes the careful selection of grains, the unique copper pot still distillation method, and its aging in charred oak barrels.

These factors contribute to its smooth and complex flavor profile, characterized by notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice, making it a favorite among bourbon connoisseurs.

Is Woodford Reserve a top shelf whiskey?

Absolutely, Woodford Reserve is often considered a top shelf whiskey due to its premium quality and craftsmanship.

It occupies a coveted position among other high-end bourbons and is frequently featured on the shelves of upscale bars and restaurants.

Its luxurious packaging and rich heritage further add to its allure as a top-tier spirit, making it a popular choice for special occasions and discerning drinkers looking for a sophisticated sipping experience.

Is Woodford a good sipping bourbon?

Without a doubt, Woodford Reserve is an exceptional sipping bourbon that is meant to be enjoyed slowly and savored.

Its well-balanced flavor profile and smooth texture make it ideal for sipping neat or on the rocks, allowing drinkers to fully appreciate its depth and complexity.

Whether enjoyed as a contemplative evening drink or as a celebratory indulgence, Woodford Reserve consistently delivers a satisfying sipping experience that showcases the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into its production.

Where does Woodford Reserve rank?

Woodford Reserve holds a prestigious position within the world of bourbon, often ranking among the top contenders in blind tastings and competitions. Its consistent quality and distinctive flavor profile have earned it numerous accolades and awards from industry experts and enthusiasts alike.

While personal preferences may vary, Woodford Reserve is frequently praised for its smoothness, depth of flavor, and overall excellence, solidifying its status as a standout bourbon among its peers.

Whether enjoyed neat, in a classic cocktail, or as part of a whiskey tasting flight, Woodford Reserve continues to impress and delight drinkers around the globe, cementing its place as a beloved and respected spirit in the whiskey world.

Why is Woodford so expensive?

Woodford Reserve’s higher price point can be attributed to several factors, including its meticulous production process, which involves premium ingredients, longer aging periods, and artisanal craftsmanship.

Additionally, the brand’s reputation for quality and prestige also contributes to its perceived value in the market, leading to a premium price tag compared to other bourbons.

Is Woodford better than Jack Daniel’s?

Comparing Woodford Reserve to Jack Daniel’s is subjective and depends on individual preferences.

Woodford Reserve is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey known for its smoothness, complexity, and rich flavor profile, while Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey with a distinct charcoal mellowing process, resulting in a slightly different taste profile.

Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal taste and the desired drinking experience.

Is Woodford made by Jack Daniels?

No, Woodford Reserve is not made by Jack Daniel’s. They are two separate and distinct whiskey brands with their own unique production processes, recipes, and histories.

Woodford Reserve is produced by the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, while Jack Daniel’s is produced by the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

While both are renowned whiskey brands, they are not affiliated with each other in terms of production.

Is Woodford Reserve expensive?

Yes, Woodford Reserve is often considered a premium bourbon whiskey and is priced accordingly. Its higher price point reflects the quality of ingredients, craftsmanship, and aging process involved in its production.

While it may be more expensive compared to some other bourbons, many enthusiasts and connoisseurs find that the depth of flavor and overall drinking experience offered by Woodford Reserve justifies its cost, making it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a top-tier whiskey experience.

Is Woodford a premium bourbon?

Yes, Woodford Reserve is considered a premium bourbon. Its reputation stems from its meticulous production process, which includes the selection of high-quality grains, a unique fermentation process, and aging in charred oak barrels.

These factors contribute to its distinct flavor profile and smooth finish, making it a sought-after choice among bourbon enthusiasts.

Why is Woodford Reserve so good?

Woodford Reserve’s quality can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, it is made from a carefully crafted mash bill consisting of predominantly corn, along with rye and malted barley, which impart rich flavors and complexity. Additionally, Woodford Reserve is distilled in copper pot stills, a traditional method that helps refine the spirit and enhance its character.

The aging process in charred oak barrels adds depth and richness to the bourbon, as it absorbs flavors from the wood, such as caramel, vanilla, and oak.

Moreover, the master distiller’s expertise and attention to detail ensure consistency and excellence in every batch, contributing to Woodford Reserve’s reputation as a top-tier bourbon.

How do you drink Woodford Reserve?

Woodford Reserve can be enjoyed in various ways, depending on personal preference. Many aficionados savor it neat or on the rocks to fully appreciate its complex flavors and smooth texture.

When served neat, pour a measure of Woodford Reserve into a glass at room temperature and allow it to breathe for a few moments before taking small sips to explore its nuances. For those who prefer a colder drink, serving it over ice can mellow its intensity while still preserving its character.

Additionally, Woodford Reserve is a versatile spirit that can be used in cocktails, such as a classic Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep, where its robust flavor can complement other ingredients.

Is Woodford Reserve a true bourbon?

Yes, Woodford Reserve is indeed a true bourbon. To be classified as bourbon, a whiskey must meet specific legal requirements, including being made in the United States, containing at least 51% corn in the mash bill, and aging in new charred oak barrels.

Woodford Reserve meets these criteria and more, as it is crafted in Kentucky, the heartland of bourbon production, and undergoes a meticulous distillation and aging process that adheres to bourbon-making traditions.

As such, Woodford Reserve proudly carries the designation of a genuine bourbon, recognized for its exceptional quality and adherence to time-honored techniques.

Is Woodford better than Elijah Craig?

Comparing Woodford Reserve to Elijah Craig ultimately boils down to personal preference, as both are highly regarded bourbon brands with distinct characteristics.

Woodford Reserve is known for its balanced flavor profile, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice, while Elijah Craig offers a richer, oakier taste with hints of dark fruit and caramel.

Some may prefer the smoother finish of Woodford Reserve, while others might appreciate the boldness of Elijah Craig. It’s advisable to try both and decide based on individual taste preferences.

Is Woodford Reserve smooth?

Woodford Reserve is often praised for its smoothness, attributed to its careful crafting process and high-quality ingredients. The bourbon undergoes a meticulous distillation and aging process, which contributes to its refined and balanced flavor profile.

Woodford Reserve typically exhibits a velvety texture on the palate, with subtle sweetness and a warm, lingering finish.

However, the perception of smoothness can vary from person to person based on individual taste preferences and sensitivity to alcohol burn.

What is the smoothest bourbon whiskey?

Determining the smoothest bourbon whiskey is subjective, as it depends on various factors such as personal taste preferences, aging process, and production techniques.

However, several bourbons are often praised for their smoothness, including brands like Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace, and Blanton’s. These bourbons are known for their well-rounded flavor profiles, with a harmonious balance of sweetness, spice, and oakiness.

Ultimately, the smoothest bourbon whiskey is a matter of individual preference and may vary from one person to another.

Is Woodford Reserve Scotch or whiskey?

Woodford Reserve is a bourbon whiskey, not a Scotch whisky. Bourbon is a type of whiskey primarily made in the United States, specifically in Kentucky, and is distilled from a mash bill containing at least 51% corn. Woodford Reserve follows the traditional bourbon-making process, including aging in new charred oak barrels, which imparts distinct flavors and characteristics.

Scotch whisky, on the other hand, is made primarily in Scotland and follows different production regulations, including the use of malted barley and aging in used oak barrels.

While both Woodford Reserve and Scotch whisky fall under the category of whiskey, they have distinct flavor profiles and production methods.

What does Woodford taste like?

Woodford Reserve is renowned for its intricate flavor profile, captivating the senses with a harmonious blend of rich, velvety notes. Upon the first sip, one encounters a symphony of flavors, starting with a luscious caramel sweetness that dances on the palate. This sweetness is accompanied by delicate hints of vanilla, lending a smooth and creamy texture to the bourbon.

As the taste journey unfolds, subtle undertones of toasted oak emerge, infusing the whiskey with a comforting warmth and depth. These oak notes intertwine with gentle whispers of spice, adding complexity and dimension to the overall experience.

Additionally, discerning drinkers may detect nuances of dried fruit, contributing to a lingering finish that leaves a lasting impression. Overall, Woodford Reserve embodies a perfect balance of sweetness, spice, and oak, creating a truly indulgent sensory experience for bourbon aficionados.

Is Woodford Reserve good with Coke?

While some individuals may enjoy mixing Woodford Reserve with Coke to create a simple and refreshing cocktail, many whiskey connoisseurs argue that such a combination masks the nuanced flavors and complexity of the bourbon.

Woodford Reserve is crafted with care to offer a rich and flavorful drinking experience on its own, making it ideal for sipping neat or with a splash of water to unlock its full potential.

However, taste preferences vary, and ultimately, whether Woodford Reserve is good with Coke depends on personal preference and the desired drinking experience.

Final Verdict: Woodford Reserve Bourbon Review

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.      


  1. Inside Woodford Reserve Distillery
  2. Woodford Reserve Drops a Bourbon So Nice They Cask Finished It Twice
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