Launched in December 2020, Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon is a limited one-time release from the label and the 15th entry in its annual Master’s Collection series. It includes juice from 17-year-old barrels laid down in 2003—the year present Master Distiller Chris Morris took the reins—and it comes in an attractive, flask-shaped bottle with an elongated neck.
On the nose it presents vanilla, honey, and dark, dark wood, with something of a wet, forest-after-rainfall quality. It’s medium in body and not as hot as you might expect for something just north of 90 proof. It opens with caramel, stewed apple and pears, and a touch of prune. The middle sees it grow more woody with a bit of tobacco, but that juiciness kicks back in towards the back with canned peaches in syrup. That’s followed up with rich, sweet cinnamon spice and apple pie crust, before that cinnamon links up with clove to bring it to a long, dry finish that’s certainly spiced but not hot.
That’s one of the most interesting aspects of Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon. You might expect such an aged bourbon to be a woody spice bomb, but the spice factor—while prominent—proves much more even-keel. Its most memorable factor may be the juicy, sweet fruits like apples, peaches, and pears that together have a warming, baking-in-the-oven quality thanks to the aforementioned spice.
— 90.4 proof