Woodford Reserve’s latest Master’s Collection expression, its 10th such annual release, is the 1838 Style White Corn.
With a limited release of only 30,000 bottles worldwide, the WRMC hit shelves in select markets in November 2015. Master Distiller Chris Morris, via Woodford Reserve, says the 1838 Style White Corn is meant to pay homage to Oscar Pepper and James Crow, who used the more readily available white corn in their mashbill. Pepper and Crow worked their magic over 160 years ago at the same location in Versailles, Kentucky, where Woodford Reserve is distilled today.
1838 Style White Corn uses the same mashbill as traditional Woodford Reserve; the only exception being the sweeter white corn replaces the commonly used yellow maize. The single alteration of the primary grain creates a smoother, fruit-forward approach with a complex finish that will leave you looking forward to your next sip.
The bottles for Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection series offer a break from the conventional WR bottle. The Collection series container evokes comparisons to a copper pot still, which of course was the ubiquitous method for distilling in the early 1800s before Aeneas Coffey introduced the continuous column still. Regardless of your appreciation for the brown water inside the casing, the WRMC bottle would be a beautiful addition to any bar collection / display.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 1838 Style White Corn
Age: NAS – no age statement. Due to little detection of woodiness, I’m guessing it’s between 5-7 years.
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whisky glass.
My Nose Noticed: Initial aroma of sweet corn supported by a hint of apple, lightly toasted sugar, capped with a faint tinge of toasted oak.
First Sip: Thanks to the sweeter white corn there is an apple-led, fruit-forward embrace, followed by a rye spice, along with a hint of light nutmeg that coats the tongue. When the initial spice fades, a detection of buttery popcorn sets in. The finish is a complex and lasting one that provides a nice, warm Kentucky Hug before a delightful spice re-emerges on the palate.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: If you drink it neat, be sure to let the juice sit for a few minutes, allowing the bourbon to open. After sampling the brown water neat, I added a few drops of town branch. The water backed the spice off and introduced a softer, smoother vanilla to the party. At 90.4 Proof, I’m not sure the water was necessary.
Share With: This is a bourbon for those who like a sweeter profile and for imbibers looking for something outside the box. It is a good pour to share with friends when you’re looking for a change-of-pace bourbon. I will enjoy having this WRMC in my collection. I will visit 1838 from time to time, but in my opinion, it is a little too sweet for my everyday grab.
Worth The Price: As you may expect from any bourbon bearing the name “Master’s Collection,” you will be paying a little more for the bottle. For the suggested retail price of $99 / 750mL, you are paying for the exclusive limited release. Personally, I do not think the content itself warrants the cost. If this expression were available on a continual basis with a broader market release, I would think a price tag in the $60 range would be more reasonable.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If you are a bourbon enthusiast who enjoys a well-stocked personal bar with a good variety to offer your guests, Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 1838 White Corn is worth the price if it’s available in your market. If you like more of a spice burn and thicker-tasting bourbons, you may want to see if your local bourbon watering hole has this selection on its shelf and try a finger or two before you take the plunge.