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Woodford Reserve Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve Rye: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Woodford Reserve Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve Rye in this head to head comparison and decide which is better for You!

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

woodford-reserve
NoseMint, honey, vanilla, citrus
PalateSweet oak, cinnamon, mint, ripe fruit
FinishOak, caramel, baking spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toMaker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, Legent

Woodford Reserve is pleasant and subtle on the nose, with hints of wood, mint, vanilla and caramel.

Palate is sweet and spicy yet entirely smooth. Some oak up front, but in moderation, along cinnamon, mint, and a sweet fruity note.

The finish brings additional caramel sweetness, along oak, and satisfying warmth that lingers.

The Woodford Reserve Bourbon is nicely balanced, body is creamy and does not have any off-putting or troubling notes.

It makes a great sipper due to its smoothness and is yet spicy due to rich cinnamon notes.

This is a sweet and mellow bourbon with the right level of heat that drinkers of all levels will appreciate alike.

Excellent everyday bourbon, smooth and clean, good both neat and when served rocks or in a Mint Julep as if you were in Churchill Downs watching the Kentucky Derby.

I find it somewhat weak to make great cocktails making me prefer the Woodford Reserve Rye, whose rich rye content makes cocktails more rewarding.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Woodford Reserve:

  • Woodford’s mash bill is made from 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% barley.
  • Aged for 7 years in one of the few warehouses that uses heat cycling. This process involves cooling and heating the air to closely control the aging.
  • Earned gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Woodford Reserve Straight Rye

woodford-reserve-rye
NoseOak, vanilla, rye spice
PalateRipe fruit, rye spice, vanilla, oak
FinishLong, vanilla, tobacco, oak spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toBulleit Rye, Knob Creek Rye

The Woodford Reserve Rye is a “barely legal” Rye Whiskey as it only carries a bit over the minimum of rye in the mash established by law to belong to this category.

This makes it taste like a spicy version of the much beloved Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Woodford Rye has a nose rich in oak at first and as you let it develop vanilla and rye spice appear.

The first sip provides mild rye spice followed by rich and sweet hints of vanilla and a fruity note that tastes like apricot. The body has a good texture, not too creamy but thick nonetheless.

The finish is long and pleasantly warm with little burn leaving vanilla and a bit of oak spice.

The Woodford Reserve Rye drinks nicely neat, due to its low rye content it does not have much spiciness making it quite easy to sip.

If you add a little ice it will become even smoother and will bring out some sweet vanilla making it more enjoyable.

It shares many features of the much beloved Woodford Reserve such as the signature toasty note oak, yet I prefer the Rye over the Bourbon as this provides tastier cocktails due to the spicy character of rye.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Woodford Reserve Rye:

  • Made from a mash of 53% rye, 33% corn and 14% malted barley.
  • There is no age statement on the Woodford Reserve Rye, but it is a straight rye so that means it’s at least 4 years old.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve Rye: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPrice
Woodford Reserve Bourbon$30
Woodford Reserve Rye$32

Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Woodford Reserve Rye: which is better?

Woodford Reserve Bourbon is an easier sipper

  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon is immensely popular as it’s nicely balanced, smooth yet tasty delivering a good experience from nose to finish and a nice sipping bourbon.
  • Its rye sibling hits harder with the spice providing a better mixer to make cocktails as the rye content adds a nice kick to cocktails making them more tasty.
  • If you want an easy sipper the Woodford Bourbon makes a better choice, if you want to add variety to your homemade cocktails the Woodford Rye is a better choice.

Woodford Reserve

The Woodford Reserve Distillery is located on what was once an old Distillery founded by Elijah and his son, Oscar Pepper, back in 1838. Under the command of Oscar and Master Distiller James Crow, the distillery reformed and modernized the process of producing whiskey in the United States; Woodford revolutionized the concepts of sour mash and yeast propagation.

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