Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Woodford Reserve Releases Five Malt



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.

14 comments:

Andy said...

$50 for a half bottle of 6-month old 'concept' whiskey. Give them their 'craft' distillery certification!!

Sevens said...

$50 for a half bottle of whiskey aged in their own, re-used barrels with the economies of scale fully on their side. That puts them in a league of their own.

Most micro distilleries use new oak and pay top dollar for every single element of their product because they aren't ordering enough to receive quantity discounts.

Dave said...

From reading the article this new Woodford sounds like the old Woodford only at a 40% increase in cost.

Chuck Cowdery said...

A little economics lesson for everyone. Pricing in most businesses is not based on costs, it is based on the seller's estimation of what the market will bear.

M Olson said...

A very thoughtful review, unlike the Whiskey Advocate website which simply parrots the distiller's marketing for this product. Thanks Chuck.

Unknown said...

Not to be too pedantic, but the margin is based on what the market will bear. Costs absolutely are a part of that. Other posters have rightly pointed out that their costs are likely significantly less than a 'microdistillery.' Their margin seems to be indirectly proportional to their innovation on this one.

-Jeff Harner

Chuck Cowdery said...

As an ex-boss of mine used to say, "I don't see a red cross on the side of the building. We ain't running a charity."

JCK said...

I think their marketing team missed April Fools by a few months.

John Hansell said...

M. Olson, we were waiting for our review sample to arrive to provide an update with further details on the whiskey's make-up and offer our thoughts on how the whiskey tastes. After all, it only went on sale today. And only in KY. I have, in the interim, included the list of the five malts that make up the whiskey in the comment section of our blog post. The info I received from B-F confirm what Chuck posted. Cheers!

M Olson said...

Thanks for the update John. You offer an outstanding magazine, I read it front to back. Your devote fans expect much from you and your publication. So being first out of gate doesn't necessary translate to winning the race. Chuck ran like Secretariat in this race! Furthermore a whisky review should be more than tasting notes from a stranger's palate, some of use look for more than simple notes and Chuck's thoughtful analysis often causes us to think more deeply about our whisky.

Just some whiskey for thought!

Fox Creek said...

Very interesting....I remember old timer accounts of making "moon shine", in one of the old Fox Fire books perhaps, which described malting part of the corn for the mash. As I recall it was all corn, and no sugar. Supposedly the enzymes from the sprouted, germinated, grain enable a starch to sugar conversion in the mash.

John Hansell said...

I didn't know there was a race, M. Olson. :) Our priority this past week was working on the next issue of the magazine. Anyway, for the sake of Chuck and his readers, let's keep the comments on topic.

Anonymous said...

I bought a bottle on Friday, and had reservations about the purchase. $50 for a 375 ml of 6 month malt scotch/whiskey? Kind of changed after I was told by several different employees there were only 1400 375 ml bottles made.

chris said...

My understanding is this is #4 of 12 limited editions to be released over time, correct? I just got this one this 4th of July weekend, and I grabbed the "Summer, 2015" release last Fall. What I'm wondering is what the first 2 limited releases were called so I can attempt to find them thru a collector or perhaps a limited retailer who's yet to unload their stock of them.

Any insights, I'd be very appreciative!