I've only just gotten around to reading the press release I was given on Thursday and it has some information worth repeating.
First, it's worth noting that the sweet mash process was the original practice of bourbon distillers and was replaced by sour mash, which is now universal. What was the first bourbon distillery to adopt sour mash? The distillery today known as Woodford Reserve, about 150 years ago, when the owner was Oscar Pepper and the distiller was James Crow. So it's ironic that Woodford is the distillery reviving sweet mash.
Second, here is how they characterize the difference in the final product: "This process gives the mash a higher pH level and reveals a layer of aromas and flavors which aren't commonly found in sour mash." Yep, that's what it did.
Third, there were some references to an 1838 sweet mash recipe on Thursday, but the more I thought about it that's not right. The recipe is the current Woodford recipe. In reality, 1838 is the year the distillery was founded and, therefore, that year was chosen to "commemorate the end of the sweet mash bourbon-making era."
It really is a good idea to read the press releases.
They refer to this as the third Master's Collection release. I say it's the fourth, since they had two releases of the Four Grain, and the second release had an additional year in wood, so it's really a different whiskey.
Their official tasting notes refer to fruit and spice, and I'd say that's pretty accurate. Compared to standard Woodford, it's both fruitier and spicier.
The bottling proof is 86.4° (43.2% ABV). Only 1,045 cases (12,540 bottles) are available. Suggested retail price is $89.99.
Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia are getting the 1838 Sweet Mash product. They are AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WI. It will also be available in Canada.