Double Oaked Bourbon is very hit and miss here at Barrel & Brew. We’ve had one that we loved (Sagamore Spirits Double Oaked), one or two that we thought were solid, and a couple we didn’t like at all. We’ve always appreciated Woodford, so we figured we’d put Double Oaked bourbons to the test with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon.
Now, if you’re not familiar with double oaked whiskey, don’t worry, we’ll cover that next. We’ll also touch on the tasting notes, price, mashbill, and more of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon.
What is Double Oaked Bourbon?
By law, bourbon must be aged in new (virgin/unused) charred oak casks. The cask bourbon is aged in must not have held anything in it prior to the bourbon. Second, bourbon cannot go in any other casks – not sherry casks, rum casks, port, used oak – or it ceases to be bourbon. Instead, you’ll have “Bourbon finished in x cask”.
There is one exception to this rule. Bourbon may be transferred to another virgin charred oak cask. This process of aging bourbon in a second new charred oak cask makes Double Oaked Bourbon.
It’s said that double oaked bourbon was created by Old Forester back in 1910 when a fire ravaged their stockpile of whiskey and barrels. The bourbon was transferred over to new barrels, and it created an entirely new expression. From that fire, double oaked bourbon was born.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon Overview
- Spirit: Double Oaked Bourbon
- Owned By: Brown-Forman
- Distilled By: Woodford Reserve Distillery
- Aged: NAS 4+ years, double barreled for an additional year
- ABV: 45.2%, 90.4 proof
- Mashbill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley
- Price: $50-60
Woodford Reserve doesn’t have an age statement. Per laws and regulations governing American whiskey, this means that every barrel of whiskey that goes in to making Woodford Reserve is at least 4 years old. Then, the bourbon is transferred over to a second barrel for a year. Woodford also offers a Double Double Oaked Bourbon which is finished for 2 years.
How Much Does Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon Cost?
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked costs about $50-60, and usually closer to the $55-60 price range. However, select Total Wine stores in certain states sell it for as low as $45, but you should expect to pay closer to $60.
It’s much more expensive because barrels are expensive. Not only are you paying for a second new charred oak barrel, but you also have two barrels that you can’t use to make bourbon anymore as both are no longer virgin casks.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Tasting Notes
We’ve covered the basics of Double Oaked Bourbon and Woodford Reserve. Now, let’s talk about the important piece. Is Woodford Reserve Double Oaked better than regular Woodford? Is it worth the extra money? Time to pour myself a glass.
Nose: Finished/coated wood, cherry & lemon zest make for some bubblegum, pine and oak, honey, maple sausage. The rye spice opens up after sitting for a bit.
Palate: Sweet up front with some rye spice in the mid palate. Lemon, honey, and oak up front turns to a sizzling pepper, cinnamon, and clove with more oak and maple syrup.
Finish: The end of the palate and beginning of the finish is bubblegum, Honey and oak come in with pepper. Honey and bubblegum stick around with a dash of cinnamon for a medium to long finish.
Based on my initial nosing, I did not think I was going to like this. I was quite wrong, because I really like Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. At first, I just got paint finished wood, but the spirit just kept opening up, and I continually picked up more and more flavors.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a very sweet, candied bourbon – much sweeter than anticipated. Cherry, lemon, and candied apples come together as bubblegum. The maple is reminiscent of dunking some sausage or bacon in maple syrup, oak and wood is throughout the nose and palate, but not overpowering in the least. Lastly, just the right amount of rye spice – pepper, cinnamon, clove – come in to make sure that Woodford Double Oaked isn’t too sweet.
The finish is nice and long. It’s an easy sipper (partly due to a tame 90 proof), and there’s some complexity throughout.
Is Woodford Double Oaked Worth It?
A 750ml bottle of Woodford Reserve is about $33. An extra $20 can get you the Double Oaked, but is it worth it?
In my opinion, yes. Woodford Reserve has always been a decent sipping whiskey to me. Sure it’s probably more for the casual drinker who recognizes the name and enjoys it, but it’s still solid. Woodford Double Oaked has a lot more going on, a lot more complexity and nuance. The range of flavors I got in just two glasses over the course of an hour made my tasting even more enjoyable.
If you’re a casual drinker just looking for something decent to sip on, stick with regular old Woodford Reserve. However, if you’re looking to try something new or different, explore new whiskeys, try something a little more complex, give Woodford Double Oaked a try – especially if you can get it closer to $50.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked spends time in a second new charred oak cask. The second barrel is heavily toasted but lightly charred. It adds a lot of candied fruit flavors without overdoing the wood and oak flavors. The sweetness is balanced out by just enough spice from the barrel and rye content, too.
In my opinion, this is a clear winner over Woodford Reserves standard expression. The caveat being that you’re going to pay for it with a ~$20 hike in the price. Regardless, this is a great expression of an already good whiskey. Perhaps I’ll have to see how it compares to Old Forester 1910 in the near future.