Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Woodford Reserve. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain is the latest release from Woodford Reserve’s annual Distillery Series, which only releases three expressions a year. Launched in June of 2022, this limited-release edition consists of fully-matured Woodford Reserve Oat Grain Bourbon, which is then finished in a second barrel that has been heavily toasted. 

The Distillery Series, which started in 2015, is the creation of Woodford Reserve’s Master Distiller Chris Morris. In a press release Morris said, “Experimenting with new ways of making Woodford Reserve is one of my favorite parts of my job,” adding “It allows us to explore new flavors with our bourbon.” Woodford Reserve Distillery is also home to one of the only heat-cycled barrel houses in the world and has the distinction of producing the only bourbon made in copper pot stills using a triple distillation process. 

Located near Versailles, Kentucky, Woodford Reserve was launched in 1996 by the Brown-Forman Corporation, which also owns Jack Daniels. However, the distillery itself, which became a National Historic Landmark in 1995, was built in 1812 and originally named the Labrot & Graham Distillery. It has since housed multiple brands including Brown-Forman’s Early Time Whiskey when they originally bought the distillery in 1941. After selling the building and the accompanying land to a local farmer in 1973, Brown-Forman repurchased it in 1993 when they were searching for a location to produce a new small-batch bourbon. 

Woodford Reserve uses corn grown locally in Shelby County, Kentucky, and water sourced from nearby Glenn’s Creek, which is naturally filtered with limestone. While most Kentucky distilleries allow their barrels to age in the unpredictable local climate, Woodford Reserve uses the rare heat-cycled barrelhouse approach. This rare, climate controlled practice allows the spirit to gain color and flavor from the wood in a predictable manner. An unfortunate downside to this expensive process is an increased angel’s share loss of the product. So while a higher quality bourbon such as Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain is produced, there is a significant loss of the spirit due to the closely controlled maturation process.  

Bottled at 90.4 proof, Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain contains a mash bill of 66% corn, 18% oats, 12% malted barley, and 4% rye. It is the second expression in Woodford Reserve’s 2022 Distillery Series and features spicy notes of cinnamon, caramel, citrus, and smoky pine with a well-balanced and highly complex long finish. 

Woodford Reserve Toasted Oat Oak Grain review

Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain (image via Woodford Reserve)

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Oat Grain Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: 90.4 proof (45.2% ABV), mash bill: 66% corn, 18% oats, 12% malted barley, and 4% rye. Bottled in Versailles, Kentucky, 750 ml bottle MSRP $642.00

Appearance: Auburn.

Nose: Smoky and delicately aromatic with a low burn on the nose. Caramel and zesty citrus peel come through, with notes of honeysuckle and a touch of rosemary. 

Palate: A slightly malty toasted cinnamon flavor is rounded out nicely with dried citrus fruit, smoky pine, and grassy notes.

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