Sunday, October 19, 2008

More About the New Woodford.

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.


Dr. Fran├žois said...

I wonder: is it cheaper to make sweet mash or sour mash?

Per batch?

Over the long-run?

Chuck Cowdery said...

My guess would be about the same, except that all of the distilleries are set up for sour mash and would need to change their operations to switch, but once switched I think the ongoing costs would be about the same.

Frank said...

I saw an invite my friend got from the distillery that makes Evan Williams. First full weekend in November is going to see a new release, a "1999 Vintage", and I'm trying to convince him to go down to KY with me to be part of it :)

Heard anything about that? Is it going to hit the shops soon afterward, and any idea where I might find it (I live in Massachusetts). I bought a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel recently on your recommendation and it was superb...

Chuck Cowdery said...

Each year at about this time, Heaven Hill previews the new release of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, which then shows up a few months later in stores. I consider that product to be a showcase of Heaven Hill's best and always recommend it. Some years are better than others, but it never disappoints.