Woodford Reserve - Master’s Collection: Batch Proof (2018)

Nose: This has a nice rich and sweet nose. It has the usual “classic bourbon” scents as well as some cherry. Palate: Like most high proof selections, the first sip is a doozy! Even when you are prepared for it, you’re never REALLY prepared for it. So….the first sip was hot. Still, you can tell that there is a lot of flavor going on and it made me look forward to the next sip…..because I knew my palate would be better prepared to deal with it. That preparation is rewarded on the second sip. The heat doesn’t hit you immediately but does still kick in considerably on the finish. The mouthfeel is nice but I have to say that the heat doesn’t invite you to keep it in your mouth for very long. This has a nice, sweet, dark chocolate and cherry flavor. It also has a decent amount of cinnamon, and a lesser amount of caramel and vanilla, which are overpowered by the heat. There is also a slight amount of toasted grain and just a smudge of rye spice that comes through, closer to the finish. What I found interesting is that the heat stayed primarily on the tongue. I was a bit surprised that it did not continue down my throat when swallowed. When my glass was about 1/2 gone, I added about 7 drops of water, swirled it around a bit and then let it sit for a few minutes. The few drops of water magically did the trick. It toned down the heat so you could enjoy the flavor without the searing heat. It didn’t seem to bring out any new flavors, just brought the ones that were there to the forefront. I think this would be a really fun bourbon to experiment with by changing the amount of water added to see what happens. Comments: I like high proof bourbon….if it also has a well developed balance of flavors. This does, but at 125.8 proof….ay chihuahua! This is a tasty beast, but it won’t be for everyone. I would be honored to meet the drinker who could make this his daily (neat) drinker! The mashbill is the regular Woodford one, 72% corn, 18% rye & 10% malted barley. The good news is, this has been released (at slightly different proofs) a few times and it usually isn’t too hard to find when it comes out as an annual release. The one thing I don’t like is that Woodford keeps jacking up the price on its Master’s Collection selections. They have all been good, and some have been great, but at $130 it by necessity (at least for me) becomes a “special treat”. This becomes one of those bottles that once it gets under 1/3 left, will hardly ever be touched, for fear of finishing it off and never having another chance to have it again. I don’t like paying $130 for this, but I’m still a sucker, so when I see it on the shelf for that, I’m probably still going to get it. Based on other reviews, more recent releases of the batch proof may be better than this first one.