For anyone who thinks the 'big guys' can't innovate, Brown-Forman's Woodford Reserve presents Five Malt, the most recent release in its Distillery Series family.
The Distillery Series, introduced in 2015, is Woodford Reserve’s line of creative expressions sold at the Woodford Reserve Distillery and select Kentucky retailers.
Five Malt was inspired by the popularity of micro-brews that explore different types of malted grains. It also uses an aging process designed to complement the grain recipe. To realize the desired sensory elements, minimum wood exposure was required. Five Malt is a whiskey distilled from malt mash then aged in recycled Double Oaked barrels for six months.
“Five Malt is another great example of flavor-focused innovation practiced at the Woodford Reserve Distillery. We take pride in our ability to create unique types of whiskey above and beyond expressions most commonly seen on shelves,” says Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris.
Five Malt goes on sale at the Woodford Reserve Distillery and select retailers in Kentucky on Thursday. It is bottled at 90.4 proof and has a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a 375ml bottle.
The press release from which this post was derived makes no attempt to explain the name 'Five Malt.' We are free to assume it means five different malts were used in the mash bill, but is that the case and, if it is, what are they? The word 'malt,' when used with regard to beer or whiskey, usually means barley malt, but any grain can be malted. Is this a barley malt product? Or are other malted grains used?
A list would be helpful. Such a request has been placed.
Note that the official classification of this product is 'whiskey distilled from malt mash,' and not 'malt whiskey.' That is because it is aged in used barrels. 'malt whiskey,' under U.S. rules, must be aged in new, charred oak.
The federal regs don't define 'malt' as 'malted barley,' but in the list of whiskey types it includes both 'malt whiskey' and 'rye malt whiskey,' which certainly suggests that 'malt' without a modifier means 'barley malt.' Common industry usage also supports that assumption.
All of which raises the question, is Brown-Forman hiding something?
UPDATE 6/15/16: The five malts are malted wheat and four varieties of malted barley. The malted barley varieties are 2-Row, Pale Chocolate, Kiln Coffee, and Carafa. Oddly, the release of this information had to be approved by the company's lawyers. Also, you may see versions of the photograph that show an April 2015 bottling date. That was a mock-up. I asked for and received a real bottle shot showing the actual bottling date of Fall, 2015.