There was a time not so very way back when collectors of whiskey, cognac, and different aged spirits needed to catch the occasional worldwide flight in the event that they wished to search out sure bottles at retail. Particular version bottles offered solely at responsibility free retailers in worldwide air terminals have lengthy been a staple within the product lineups of distilleries world wide, lending an extra air of exclusivity to distinctive or restricted version liquids (and one thing for collectors to hunt out on that lengthy layover in Heathrow or Hong Kong).
However with worldwide journey grinding to a relative standstill in 2020, so have releases of journey unique bottles, which is why Woodford Reserve’s cognac-casked Baccarat Version and its elegant crystal decanter has this month landed at U.S. retail outdoors the airport for the very first time. The extremely restricted whiskey—aged first in new American oak after which completed for three-plus years in used XO cognac barrels—is accessible at ReserveBar in addition to at retail and the distillery for so long as Woodford can maintain it on the shelf.
That seemingly gained’t be for lengthy given the collectable nature of this explicit bottle, which has offered very nicely at journey retail for the previous few years, Woodford Reserve Grasp Distiller Chris Morris says. The hyperlinks between Woodford County, KY, and France return so far as the Revolutionary Warfare and the Marquis de Lafayette, and whereas all these historic particulars fall a bit outdoors of the scope of this piece, suffice it to say that when Morris and his group at Woodford got down to pay homage to the French affect on Woodford County and the beginning of the USA, they wished to do one thing particular.
For Woodford, that additionally meant a return to the standard. The distillery has an extended historical past of innovation in cask ending, having created among the very first Kentucky bourbons rested in former wine casks, Maplewood casks, and the like. A bourbon celebrating Woodford’s hyperlinks with France may’ve simply gone an analogous route—there’s no scarcity of used wine barrels in France—however Morris had different concepts. “We thought we had constructed our credentials being innovators,” he says. “So now it’s time to be somewhat extra conventional and go right into a cask that you just’re going to search out world wide, that you just’ll discover within the single malt enterprise and in different purposes, and that after all is likely one of the nice spirits of the world: cognac.”
Woodford Reserve’s experiment in cognac cask ending was already nicely underway when the North American gross sales director for Baccarat—a 250-year-old French maker of crystal finery with a historical past reaching again to the period of Lafayette—occurred to cease by the Woodford distillery whereas vacationing with household. After tasting what Morris and his group had been engaged on, he was sufficiently impressed to ship phrase up the chain to his colleagues in Paris, who reached out to Woodford about partnering on a really distinctive bottle.
The ensuing product is elegant on all fronts. The crystal decanter makes for a centerpiece bottle in any whiskey assortment. The liquid itself (like all Woodford whiskies) begins out as the identical core bourbon as all Woodford merchandise earlier than going into XO cognac casks for no less than three years, a course of that intensify the first notes already current in Woodford’s bourbon: stone fruits, vanilla, spice, and many others. However there are knock-on results as nicely. Dried fruits shine by on each the nostril and palate, including a considerably deeper and complicated total character to the lighter fruit notes extra typical of bourbon. Because it strikes throughout your palate you’ll get some creamy vanilla, heat cinnamon, mild caramel and honey-drizzled pastry notes, and a end that’s lengthy, heat, and awash in heat vanilla cream.
After all, when shopping for a bottle like this a lot of what you’re paying for is the packaging, and at $2,000 a bottle it’s seemingly not a bottle for everybody. But it surely’s a particular bottle and a particular whiskey, a uncommon and beautiful liquid all by itself and one thing that may as soon as once more be far tougher to acquire as soon as worldwide journey (and travel-only retail) picks up once more. Pre-orders for the two,000 out there bottles are dwell on ReserveBar, with extra bottles out there at choose U.S. retailers and at Woodford Reserve distillery.
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