After thoroughly acquainting myself with four bottles of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, it was time to whip out its big brother, ‘Double Oaked.’ He had been sitting on my shelf for a few months, waiting for the right opportunity; and although there was nothing in particular to celebrate, running out of all my standard bourbon and rye whisky seemed like a sound enough reason. Around $10 more dear and housed in a shorter, curvier bottle within its own lush brown cardboard box, the 1-year age-gap is worth those few extra dimes.
They’re born from the same virgin American white oak cooperage womb. However, in the way that experience enriches us humans, the same philosophy applies to bourbon. Both the Standard and Double Oaked consist of the same grain bill; 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt; and have undergone the same fermentation and distillation process. The only difference is that the Double Oaked big brother has undergone a second round of barreling.
Usually, twice-barrelled bourbons are finished in used barrels. What makes Woodford Reserve Double Oaked different is that it is matured in a second virgin charred oak barrel for a year and the result is phenomenal. Layers and layers of flavours are added to create a rich, creamy, sweet and exceptionally smooth drop.
From the bottle design to the deep amber colour and the sound it makes when the cork pops off, everything about the Double Oaked is simply divine. Upon first sniff, your eyes will widen like it did mine. There’s no harsh pang of alcohol and rather smells like a spicy mocha chai concoction that a regal barista would create. If Woodford Reserve made a candle, this is what it would smell like and I would have one in every corner of my house until it was bordering to be a fire hazard.
All of the notes from the classic Woodford can be picked up but it tastes like it has been enveloped in a coat of gooey vanilla caramel syrup. With each sip I take, I imagine the visuals from those Whittaker’s or Nutella ads where the chocolate is being churned in slow-mo. The aroma and taste is just as satisfying.
What gives it this distinction is that the second American white oak barrel is lightly charred and then toasted. You would expect it to be super woody and oaky but this is not the case. Compared to the standard Woodford, the extra round of barrel aging allows the sharpness to dissipate and the taste profile surprisingly consists of sweet aromatics – chocolate, honey, marzipan, brown sugar, butterscotch, maple syrup, caramel and vanilla.
When it comes to food, I’m 100 percent a savoury gal and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. But, when it comes to bourbon, I like my old fashioneds sweet with a slightly gooey texture. I always swap out the sugar cube with maple syrup and add orange and chocolate bitters. It’s like a boozy Werther’s Originals and jaffa candy in one, and it’s bloody good. You should try it while watching Vikings or The Last Kingdom. On another note, I think I need to start smoking cigars and wear a Hugh Hefner robe instead of my alarmingly pink fluffy pants in order to look the part.
You’ll also notice that the Double Oaked has delicious spiced fruit notes of cherry, pear and apple. It’s like they put Christmas cakes and fruit mince pies into the barrel. You can smell the cinnamon, nutmeg and toasted hazelnut. There’s also hints of burnt brown sugar like hokey pokey but overall, if I had to choose one word to describe it, I’d say this drop is uber chocolatey.
When I’ve had a long day, I like to imbibe in this tipple on one large rock. Nespresso sells these rubber ice moulds that make perfectly cubed ice and they melt a bit slower than the ice made in regular rectangular plastic trays that always, without fail, irritatingly crack the ice when you try to pop them out. When you’re having something that champions craft, you can’t undo all their hard work with crappy shards of ice. Respect goes a long way – with people and also with bourbon.
Judging purely by the nose and palate, you would think it was around 30% alcohol like Southern Comfort. However, it’s a supremely velvety and smooth 45.2% ABV. Whether you’re a first time bourbon drinker or a connoisseur, the versatile Double Oaked is sure to please every man or woman. So you should definitely keep a couple of these on the top shelf to celebrate a rainy day in our current drought.
Visit the Woodford Reserve website for more info