Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Review

Woodford Reserve  Distillers Select Review

Woordford Reserve Distiller’s Select is masterfully crafted on a site that has been distilling since 1780 with only 2 stoppages. The first was during that annoying event called Prohibition and the second when it was mothballed by Brown-Forman (the owner) from 1968 to 1993 who sold, repurchased and then renovated it during this time. After the renovation the distillery reopened and the first Woodford products hit the market in 1996.

Since then the team at Woodford Distillery have been hard at work crafting a smooth and supple bourbon that has become the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. The Woodford folks make several different kinds of bourbon (including limited editions), but this, the Distiller’s Select, is their flagship offering and what an offering it is.

Overall this a fantastic whiskey and among my favorite everyday bourbons. It’s decently balanced with the sweetness weighing a bit heavy on the scales but it doesn’t overpower the grain, wood and spice. It’s a complex and sippable bourbon for drinkers of all levels and makes killer cocktails should you choose that route. I typically like a little more oomph in my bourbons, but it’s tasty and easy to see why this has become a daily drinker for so many folks.

If you’ve tried the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select I’d love to see what you have to say in the comments below.

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Review

ABV: 45.2%
Price: $30
Distiller: Woodford Reserve
Batch: 839
Bottle: 2582

Deep caramel with hints of red

Caramel and maple with some floral notes at first. After a second brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, citrus light oak and corn notes appear.

Caramel, cocoa and maple were the first flavors that came across my palate. Accompanying these guys were pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, smoky char and some wood. I didn’t smell much rye, but on the palate the rye comes through a bit heavier.

Very round and smooth. Obscenely easy to drink neat.

Caramel, vanilla and light citrus slowly fade to corn and maple wood for a long finish.

SCORE: 89/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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35 Responses to Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Review

  1. I found Woodford Reserve on a Delta first class flight. My first first class flight and my first love for Bourbon. I love the creamy caramel and vanilla notes. I am not learning more about Bourbon.

  2. I love a good bourbon, and when I approached some fellow bourbon aficionados about Woodford Reserve their opinions were surprisingly divided. Some couldn’t say enough great things about it, while others pulled a face at the mention of the name. Never one to shy from controversy, and in need of a housewarming bottle to christen my new home I couldn’t resist. I find myself in complete agreement with you: this is some damn fine whiskey right here. Daily drinker indeed, complex enough to keep one’s interest yet so easy to drink neat. Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select has definitely found a permanent home in my cabinet. I certainly can’t wait to try their Double Oaked (I’m hoping to score a bottle at my housewarming party in a few weeks). Great bourbon, highly recommended.

  3. Josh,
    Tried this whiskey this weekend, and I have to say I totally agree with you! It’s a little sweet and not much spice, but what a pour! So easy to drink neat. Definitely on my daily drinking list. As always you nailed the review. I prefer more of a pepper feel at the back of the throat in my whiskies, but that is just me.

    Keep up the great work!


  4. I tried this for the first time yesterday. This is a very smooth drinking bourbon that has a mix of complex flavors that take a second or two to fully open up (I won’t try to describe them, see the main review). I didn’t find it too sweet, but I tend to like a bit of sweetness, most likely a left over from my Jack drinking days. There’s a mild burn and a long, pleasant after taste. Very nice.

  5. Pure swill. My bottle tastes like paint thinner. Glad yours was enjoyable. I will steer clear in the future.

    Recent favorite bottles: Elmer T. Lee, Four Roses Single Barrel, WT101, Evan Williams single 2004 (still available here, but now $32, bastards!)

    Love your reviews otherwise. They have been very helpful and pointed me in the right direction 98% of the time.

  6. I love Woodford I also have a slight obsession with Basil Hayden. With the being said I was wondering if you have ever had any of the Orphan Barrel whiskeys I had a taste of the 20 year and feel instantly in love , they offer a 26 year that goes by “old blow hard” and have yet to get my hand on this just wondering if you have and what your thoughts are on both…thanks

    • Hey Joe,

      I like the Barterhouse, but I can’t stand the Old Blowhard. I don’t have a formal review of it up, but I’ve had it on more than one occasion and it’s completely over oaked in my opinion. Cheers!

  7. So I’m really quite new to the Bourbon world, but I have to say that I am really enjoying this. I agree with you on the sweetness, and maybe that’s what is making my inexperienced palate enjoy it so much. Aside from neat, I have to say it makes a killer old fashioned.

    Oh well, that’s my two cents worth.

    Thanks for the great site and reviews Josh!

  8. Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is my go-to Bourbon. I drink it with just a small splash of distilled water and sip—sip—sip. Nose, palate and finish—for ME—are as good as some of the so-called premium bourbons. Nice butterscotch-caramel nose with just enough oak on the palate to give a nice slow finish—really enjoy it and would recommend it heartily to anyone not acquainted with it yet. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and best of all—–IT’S READILY AVAILABLE!!!

  9. I’ve experimented with Bourbon for 3 years (neophyte). For my budget, Woodford Reserve is at the top of the list for a for a great bourbon, on the rocks or in Old Fashions. Right up there with E.T. Lee in my opinion, and much easier to find.

  10. Wonderful review , Josh . I recently enjoyed a bottle and my first impression of it was …. Man , this is the perfect newbie bourbon for neat drinking . It is a super easy drink , as you mentioned . I dig a bit more Rye going on , I’m a Old Granddad 114 lover , but this stuff is so easy that it would never be turned down by me … ever . My son also enjoys it . Heck , I’d have nudged up to 90 just because of it’s non offensiveness to a new bourbon drinker . I mean , there’s nothing that could turn someone away from this . Not that I could figure anyway

    • Your assessment is fairly on-par with my own and I’ve used it to introduce folks to bourbon. It’s sweet, soft and easy to drink and isn’t horribly challenging in any way. Decent sipping whiskey for sure. Cheers John!

  11. Just uncorked a bottle for the first time and my experience didn’t match my expectation. There was so little nose to the whiskey that it kind of took me back. And after having the first few sips there is a lot of sweetness. Like the caramel, maple and vanilla overpower the rest of the bourbon. It’s not bad at all and there is so little burn for a 90 proof whiskey. I dare call it a dessert bourbon.

  12. A friend received a bottle of Woodford Reserve as a gift and since he’s a rye drinker and not fond of Bourbon he offered it to me for a reasonable price. My usual drink is Crown Royal but I’m up for variety so I said yes. I thought I’d tried every drink with alcoholic content but had never heard of this one so I turned to the internet and found your page. I drink whiskey with just a bit of ice so that’s how I tried this, and I agree with your review all the way. I’m on my first glass of a 1.75 liter bottle but based on the first few sips I’m not going to regret my purchase.

  13. This may seem patently obvious, but I think this is one bourbon that’s more affected by what it’s served in than others.I’ve had it in glassware several times and really enjoyed it, but I’ve been served it in plastic at a party and it was unpalatable. I’m not going to investigate this too far with other pours though.

  14. Got a liter bottle of those for Valentine’s Day. It’s smooth. It’s sweet. It lacks character. Save your cash and get the 1.75 bottle of Dirty Bird 101.

  15. In my country, the choice is limited. WR is the best easily available in my locality one I’ve had. Just had an Old Fashioned with it that had a pinch of fine, sticky, muscavado sugar, orange bitters and angostura bitters with a burnt twist of orange peel. There was quite a lot going on in it flavour-wise. My country is famous for Scotch; but the quality of affordable stuff has plummeted in the past 5 years over here as lucrative export markets suck up the best stuff. It’s also weak at 40% (80% US) so I’m getting more pleasure out of Bourbon right now. I only use Scotch in the amazingly good Difford’s Blood and Sand these days (drip of Islay smoke in it)

  16. Its not bad for a low $20’s bottle. I don’t understand why people think its trying to be something its not, with the lower price tag and all. Its obvious its not claiming to be high end bourbon. Its certainly drinkable though, a bit chewy, just how I like it. It’s liquid greatness compared to something like basil hayden’s, and half the price. It won’t wow you, but it wont disappoint either. Wouldn’t mind tasting a higher proof of it myself.

  17. This is not bad but I feel the whole “hand crafted” thing is over blown.
    Plus it’s a tad too expensive for what you get.
    I feel like I’m paying for the fancy bottle and cork.
    Obviously a Brown Foreman product- the cherry note of Old Forester is evident.
    Good overall bot for my money Barton 1792 Small Batch has more character and cost less.
    To each his own!

  18. This is a very reliable “go to” bourbon. Your review is quite fair and should be helpful to those wishing to expand their bourbon experience. For me, the Distillers is more enjoyable than the double oaked which is a bit hot for my aging palate. Bourbon is to be enjoyed…if you don’t like this one, try something else. Your Buffalo Trace review is another lead for novices to follow. No need to go broke getting a decent bottle of bourbon that YOU will enjoy. And, no needto be snobbish about one YOU don’t care for. Kentucky has enouh distilleries that one of them will produce a product that even the most picky sipper will relish. If you have a chance to do so, tour the Woodford property and enjoy the history. I was lucky enough, (many years ago), to enjoy a couple of their meals where bourbon was included in every dish. It was most enjoyable!

  19. So I’m finishing my bottle of this stuff and I think it has gotten better with age. With nose it feels like loads is going on. Seems like a very sophisticated Bourbon.

    On a side note, it’s my first entry into my new tasting notes booklet of yours. Anyone reading this I highly recommend you buy this on Amazon 🙂

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