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Pretty much every jurisdiction that regulates alcohol requires that distillers put the proof of their product on the bottle. Still, only a few decide to put it in the name of their whiskey. In the case of Woodford Reserve’s Batch Proof 124.7 Proof, however, I can see why they want to lead with it. At 124.7 proof, or 62.35% ABV, this is one of the strongest whiskeys I’ve ever gotten to sample. While not the strongest on the market (something like that would be more like Bruichladdich’s X4 quadrupled whisky at a staggering 184 proof) it gears itself towards the higher end for the American bourbon market.
This high proof offering comes from the same mash bill and distillation process as their Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which typically bottles around a more modest 90 proof. This limited release comes from a blend of Woodford Reserve barrels, selected by Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall and Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris. The release was then bottled at barrel proof. This gives it a much higher alcohol content than their typical Kentucky Straight Bourbon releases.
Proof is one of the more prominent talking points when it comes to any whiskey, because it’s one of the more objective traits of a whiskey. We all have our own unique palettes when it comes to taste, but a strong proof asserts itself palpably. It has a direct, physical impact that changes the overall character of a whiskey.
I don’t consider a high proof a guarantee of quality, but I think it can be an indication of confidence. Releasing an expression at barrel proof preserves the flavors of a blend at their strongest. It shows Woodford Reserve’s faith in the blend that they’re releasing it at cask strength instead of proofing it down. Two master distillers want to preserve an assertive mix of flavors at their strongest. That represents a strong pitch for the 124.7 Proof label.
Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Batch 124.7 Proof
Vital Stats: 62.35% ABV. Mash bill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley.124.7 Proof. MSRP 129.99 USD.
Appearance: Burnt Umber
Nose: I can sense the proof immediately, as there’s a harsh wave of alcohol leading the scent. As I can explore deeper, though, I can make out well-defined scents of cherry and allspice, clear beneath the proof.
Palate: Despite the intensity of the proof, the flavors play very clearly on the tongue. There is a forward note of fruit and caramel, like cherry cola. I don’t have long to let it open up before the burn takes over, but I can find undertones of cinnamon bark and a woody body. As the alcohol fades into the finish, I’m left with a clear, lingering taste of cherry and sandalwood.