American malt whiskeys are a big deal these days and one of the bigger plays on the whiskey scene—Woodford Reserve—has officially joined the fray with their newest release, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey.
The recipe for the new whiskey was based on historical recipes and influenced by Woodford Reserve Bourbon. When the US (thankfully) exited Prohibition, malt whiskey was one of the four approved categories of whiskey, proving that it was being created and consumed pre-Prohibition. Using these recipes as a launching point, Master Distiller Chris Morris then worked to create his own iteration.
“Inspired by history and a distinct flavor profile, Woodford Reserve is charting its own unique path with this new malt whiskey based on historical precedence and our commitment to flavor, something that’s ingrained in everything we do,” Morris said in a statement.
This is the fourth addition to the brand’s permanent portfolio (the previous three being Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, and Woodford Reserve Rye). Woodford Reserve also produces a number of limited runs of special whiskeys, which have included bourbons finished in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrels, among a wide variety of other specialties. (They also do limited edition Kentucky Derby bottles every year.)
The grain bill of the new whiskey, as you might expect, is 51-percent malted barley. The rest is made of 47-percent corn and 2-percent rye. (If you’re playing along at home, that means this is not a bourbon, no matter how hard the guy at the bottle shop argues with you about it. It doesn’t matter how many whiskey Facebook groups he belongs to, he’s wrong. Let him be wrong.)
On the nose, Malt is nutty, with hints of caramel and milk chocolate shading light tropical notes. On the palate, you’ll find more chocolate—darker this time—and more caramel. Some toasted coconut and oak present themselves in addition to some baking spices. A medium long finish comes last, bringing sweet malt notes to the very end.
If you’re a fan of Scotch or Irish whisk(e)y, the malted barley flavors will be appealing and immediately recognizable. If you’re not, well, time to dive in to the exciting category of American malt whiskeys!
Woodford Reserve Malt comes in at 90.4 proof and retails for $34.99. It is available nationwide.