This new experimental bourbon from Woodford Reserve is quite dark in color. The nose has the slight metallic aroma often associated with copper pot stills. There is caramel, vanilla, and yes, some distinct maple aromatics. One also gets some leather, a good dose of oak, some coffee, and a bit of something like acetone and something a bit chaulky. This is not a compelling bourbon nose, but trying to imagine what it will taste like provides an interesting puzzle.
I have found the other WR Master's bourbons to be quite different from other bourbons, enjoyable for themselves (and they are, we should remind ourselves, experimental), but not an everyday pour. My suspicion is that I will find this to be in that same vein. The bourbon has been in the glass for about 10 minutes now and the nose has moved a bit more onto the sweet side as the alcohol (94.4 proof) abates. The rye begins to make an appearance, the coffee seems more dark roasted, but that chaulky aroma is holding its own.
The taste of this bourbon is decidedly beholden to the maple finishing barrels, but it is also quite spicy with cinnamon and ginger pulling it along. It is as if the bourbon god decreed that when sipping this bourbon there will be two quite distinct parts to the mouth. The first and front will be devoted to a moderately rich maple sweetness and sweetened coffee, while the second and back will disregard the maple sweetness and coffee from the front and be spicy, tannic, and metallic. A remnant of the sweetness is allowed to remain in the roof of the mouth as an echo. The finish is quite spicy and pretty dry.
Like the other WR Master's Collection Bourbons this one is not likely to find a large following (even were it free, which of course it is not, and in fact, at $100 is far from cheap). It is a unique bourbon experience, certainly a relative to the others and the one I like best. I confess to being fascinated by what Chris Morris is doing and am biased in favor of the MC bourbons at the starting gate. Brown Foreman (Labrot Graham?) produce many excellent bourbons and at least one great whiskey (Jack Daniel's Single Barrel) and to see them giving Chris the go ahead to go into left field is commendable in my opinion.
The MC bourbons dance to a different tune and really require a lot from the drinker. They require that you, as the drinker, have no preconceptions as to what a bourbon should taste like. I think they also require a palate that appreciates a new taste experience and one that does not mind a surprise.
Like with all the other MC bourbons, the more I sip and become accustomed to them, the more I enjoy them. They are all, in my opinion, metallically dry, and dryness in bourbon is no sin to me.
It strikes me that the MC bourbon would work well with several foods. At the moment, I am trying it with some dark chocolate and it works well for both the bourbon and the chocolate. I also think it would work well with or in a beef stew.
The cost notwithstanding, I am glad to have this bourbon on my shelf knowing that moments will occur when it suits my mood and palate...........just as the other WRMC bourbons do.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas