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The Brown Forman company (producers of Jack Daniels, Old Forrester and Woodford Reserve) remains the only major distiller in the world that owns and manufactures its own barrels from its cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. It not only gives them a competitive edge in terms of cost, but enables total control when refining or experimenting with its most valuable commodity, the 'American White' oak.
It became no surprise when the Woodford brand announced its 'Master Distillers' collection. A series of whiskeys based on the five sources of flavour in the production of Bourbon Whiskey, those being grain, water, yeast, distillation, and wood-aging or oak - With these elements, the distillery looks to traverse experimental styles not found in current industry.
Its fifth release (second in Australia) utilizes the Sugar Maple, a genus of oak that is anything but ideal in the production of whisky due to its porosity. One account suggesting that maturation of period of 4 years in a traditional American white oak barrel will result in a 20% loss due to evaporation, compared to a 30% from the Sugar Maple within a period of 3-6 months! Why the fuss one might ask? Master Distiller Chris Morrision explains: "Sugar maple trees have a complex natural chemistry, rich in calcium, potassium and other minerals, but they are best known for their flavourful sap which contains as much as 3% sugar. The resulting whiskey is enhanced with hints of maple, honey and cinnamon."47.2% ABV.