For Bourbon maturation, barrels made of American white oak are mandatory. But even within American oak there are differences. Woodford’s house style employs a commingling of Northern oak, Appalachian oak and Ozark oak — three terroirs with very different growing profiles. Mixed together these barrel types produce a standardised flavour profile that we recognize as Woodford Reserve.
The ‘Select American Oak’ edition departs from this formula: Only barrels made of Ozark oak were used (aka Quercus muehlenbergii, these trees are characterised by their fast growth). Focusing on one kind of timber, Master Distiller, Chris Morris enters yet another interesting adventure in flavour formation, demonstrating that where the tree is grown also makes a difference to the final whiskey. In his words, “this has a slightly spicy, nutty flavour… The medley of aromas includes vanilla, milk chocolate, walnut, pecans, and marzipan. A hint of peach and cocoa powder are also evident on the palate, while the finish has a welcome touch of wood spice.”