I was stuck down in Kentucky again this last weekend so I decided to check off another distillery on the Bourbon Trail. This time it was the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles (pronounced ver-SALES) just south of Frankfort.
The trip to the distillery is beautiful and right in the middle of Kentucky thoroughbred country with horse farms as far as the eye can see. You get the feeling your driving through the farms as you wind your way to the distillery.
The Woodford Reserve brand is less than 20 years old, but the distillery where it is made has been in business since 1812. The original founder was Elijah Pepper and his son Oscar made their bourbon famous. Senator Henry Clay took a barrel of it to Washington each year to "lubricate the wheels of government" and Senator Daniel Webster kept a bottle of it in his closet at the capitol.
The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery changed hands a few times over the years and though it is owned today by the makers of Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve is still produced under the previous owners' names of Labrot and Graham.
A fun side note, the Labrot and Graham distillery is one of the few that survived Prohibition in tact since it was allowed to produce bourbon to be sold for "medicinal purposes." Oddly enough, most of the bourbon was sent to Chicago where doctors wrote thousands and thousands of "prescriptions."
Only about 100-120 barrels are produced each week and all of them are aged in the original limestone warehouse on site. As for the taste of the bourbon, its flavor grain is rye - as opposed to wheat that Maker's Mark uses. This gives Woodford Reserve a very warm and spicy flavor that is strong and finishes warm on the back of the throat.
All in all, it's a great rye bourbon, but I still like the sweet, winter wheat flavor of Maker's Mark a little bit more - not that I'd ever turn down a glass of Woodford Reserve.