Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the 2008 Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Release Is…

A sweet-mash bourbon based on a 1838 recipe. Let me tell you why this is exciting for whiskey enthusiasts.

Being an enthusiast is about tasting things you’ve never tasted before, ideally things that taste good, but even if they don’t, if it’s original and novel, with something valuable to say, whiskey enthusiasts will like it.

At least this one will.

First, what is sweet mash? The short answer is that it is the opposite of sour mash. Sour mash was developed about 150 years ago as a way to keep a distillery’s whiskey consistent from batch to batch. By adding spent mash to the new mash, the distiller created a consistent environment for the yeast from batch to batch. (It's mostly about the pH value.) The yeast like consistency and reward the distiller by behaving the same way they did the previous time, over and over again.

The alternative, sweet mash, starts each batch fresh.

So Woodford is going to make whiskey that isn’t consistent from batch to batch?

Not exactly.

Cutting to the chase, what is exciting is that Woodford made its usual whiskey—same mash bill, same yeast, same everything—except no spent mash. This created a different environment for the yeast and shocked it into behaving differently. It’s the same strain of yeast, it’s the same everything, but that one little difference, a slightly different pH value in the mash, produces a very different whiskey. That’s cool.

Like the three previous Master’s Collection releases, this one is also all-pot still.

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