If Woodford Reserve Five-Malt Stouted Mash sounds less like the name of a whiskey and more like the name of a beer, that’s kind of the point. The recent release (the 17th in Woodford’s ongoing “Master’s Collection”) emphasizes the flavors found in the “distiller’s beer,” aka the fermented grain mash prior to its distillation (which for all intent and purposes, is a beer).
It pours a dark, cherrywood-red in the glass and has a nose split between earthy malt, dusty oak, and the inside of a flourless chocolate brownie. Mingled between are further aromas of dark cherry, spice cake, and fig.
Five-Malt Stouted Mash is rich and unctuous on the palate with starter notes that feel pulled from a Black Forest Cake, with spices and cherry galore. Those holiday spices and dark fruit flavors do yeoman’s work cutting through the dark chocolate brownie batter flavors that emerge at the center, which are buttressed by a wall of dry oak. Towards the finish we get into vanilla, caramelized sugar, and—surprise—more wood, before it gives way to a strong, clean, spearmint that leaves you feeling as if you’ve just brushed your teeth. At least until its last moments, which are played off by an appreciated encore of malty chocolate.
Yes, this is a release meant to capture the flavors of a so-called “distiller’s beer,” but don’t think that its appeal is limited to beer-lovers. Speaking as someone whose general idea of a good beer is a Miller High Life, I enjoyed the whiskey immensely, in large part due to its powerfully rich and dark chocolate notes and surprising spearmint finish.
— 45.2% ABV