Woodford Reserve Distillery, known for its premium bourbon, is launching in a new direction: malt whiskey.
The distillery outside of Versailles is releasing a blended malt whiskey beginning in June that will be a permanent addition to the Woodford Reserve line.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey is based on historical recipes with a grain bill of 51 percent malt, which gives the whiskey nutty characteristics similar to those found in Woodford Reserve Bourbon. It’s 90.4 proof, with a suggested price of about $35. According to the tasting notes, it has nutty notes drizzled with light caramel and milk chocolate with a hints of tropical fruit and toasted coconut.
Master distiller Chris Morris said that he was fascinated to discover that Kentucky and Brown-Forman, parent company of Woodford Reserve, were making much more malt whiskey than he’d previously thought. That led him to pursue a malt whiskey with a flavor profile similar to his bourbon.
“It so sweet,” Morris said.
Malt whiskey is usually associated with Scotland, which produces Scotch, but before Prohibition, Morris said, Kentucky distillers made malt as well as rye, wheat and bourbon whiskeys.
In 2013, Woodford Reserve released two limited edition malt whiskeys, an Old World and a New World style that reflected the difference in grain-forward versus barrel-forward spirits. Those were one-time-only whiskeys.
Other distilleries, including Hartfield & Co. and Town Branch have released malts, too.
This is the fourth in the Woodford Reserve line, joining Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Woodford Reserve Rye.