Woodford Reserve Double Oaked​ Review [In Depth]

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Alex author
Founder, writer
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Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Details

Distillery: Woodford Reserve (Brown Forman)

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 45.2%

Composition: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley

Aged: NAS, aged in virgin American white oak then finished (double oaked) in another virgin American white oak cask

Color: 1.7/2.0 on the color scale (burnt amber)

Price: $50-60 MSRP (750mL)

From the Woodford Reserve website:

“An innovative approach to twice-barreled bourbon creates the rich and colorful flavor of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Uniquely matured in separate, charred oak barrels – the second barrel deeply toasted before a light charring – extracts additional amounts of soft, sweet oak character.”

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked​ overview

I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure that Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon is one of the top 2 best selling double oaked bourbons in America, the other being Old Forester 1910. If you haven’t read my Old Forester 1910 review yet, I’m going to provide the same background information on what double oak is and why it matters.
Bourbon and rye must be initially aged in virgin charred oak casks, meaning it’s never held any other liquid in it before, except water. In order to be double oaked, it has to be single oaked first. While sitting in the oak barrels, the whiskey and oak interact, leading to scents, flavors, and colors being infused into the whiskey.
The double oaked part happens when the whiskey is dumped out of the first barrel and into another virgin charred oak cask. This leads to even more oak interaction that leads to more traits. The company can also control how charred the second barrel is, among other things, to influence how much interaction there is.
This is an expensive undertaking. One barrel already is pretty expensive, so using a second one becomes that much more expensive. Not only that, the secondary barrel is then no longer considered a “virgin barrel”, so it can’t be used as the primary barrel to age bourbon. It can only be used as a secondary barrel or used to create American whiskey, which is one general term for whiskey aged in used oak. There’s a lot of nuance there and my explanation covers a piece of it.
But then you might ask, why not just leave it in the original barrel for longer? The over-simplified answer is because whiskey ages differently over time. The company may also want to introduce a barrel with different traits to change it up. There’s a lot more nuance to this part too, but that’s for another time.
Unlike Old Forester 1910, where Old Forester states that they dilute the bourbon down to 100 proof before dumping the bourbon into the second barrel, there isn’t a clear statement of what Woodford Reserve does prior to the second barrel maturation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something similar, but I guess few people will ever truly know.
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Let’s revisit this bottle and uncover the reasons why this is so popular in this Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon review.
One additional note: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is one of the darkest bourbons that I’ve ever seen, bordering on a solid block of dark chocolate. At face value, it looks like very old bourbon.
*I want to thank my friend Tyler for the sample of the original review. I’ve since bought my own bottle and reviewed it again
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Woodford Reserve Double Oaked​ smell

Woodford Double Oak starts off with dark roasted caramel, toasted vanilla, mocha, roasted oak, roasted ripe banana, candied pecans, dried cherry and orange peel, cinnamon, chocolate fudge, cola, and hints of brighter licorice and orange. As expected, it starts off dark and oaky, but over time, unexpected brighter fruitiness comes to fill out the scents. You know what, it smells great.
The main shortcoming is that while the variety is there, it doesn’t feel that dense. The scent’s aren’t lifeless or bland, it just doesn’t have that much muscle to be captivating. At the same time, I guess the benefit of the lower ABV is that it’s super easy to smell and very approachable – roasted and welcoming scents that don’t punch you in the nostrils.
After swirling there’s roasted caramel and banana, roasted coffee grounds, roasted oak, nougat, cinnamon, fresher apple, vanilla, dried cherry, candied pecans, lime, and maple syrup. Unlike Old Forester 1910, this doesn’t have the pillowy nose-feel of Old Forester 1910. I don’t remember if regular Woodford Reserve did, but I know Old Forester 86 Proof does.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is still dark and roasty, but less heavy than before. Even after 10 minutes, it’s oddly brighter and thinner than before, but the darker and heavier notes come back after about 15 minutes. Yes I did wait that long to confirm how long it takes to open up.
The double oak finish adds a surface layer of extra oak. It’s doesn’t feel nearly as mature and oaky as I’d hoped.
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Woodford Reserve Double Oaked​ taste and aftertaste

Darker caramel, roasted vanilla and ripe banana, roasted oak, cinnamon, dark chocolate, dried apple and orange, roasted coffee, spritz of fresh orange, and some lightly bitter oak tannins kick off the flavors. Roasted chocolate covered banana somewhat describes it. Unlike Old Forester 1910, it doesn’t have that more viscous mouthfeel that I associate with Brown Forman.
As expected, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked skews dark, roasty, and generally oaky, but there is a more delicate fruitiness that provides balance and depth. It’s not one dimensionally oaky and dark. While it tastes great, the lower ABV is more obvious with the not that dense flavors. This may be part barrel selection too, but it’s dark yet doesn’t have much roundness – missing bass to fill out the low end.
This would be a lot better at 100 proof, but I’m a broken record at this point about the ABV.
After “chewing” there’s roasted caramel and banana, dried cherry, roasted oak, cocoa powder, cinnamon, dried red apple, coffee, and coconut. The flavors open-up with chewing, bringing out more sweetness, oakiness, and fruitiness. The added oakiness continues to be front and center, but far from overly burnt or bitter, as the fruitiness continues to make its presence known. It’s dark, bright, and a bunch of things in between.
The finish first leaves roasted oak, lightly bitter oak tannins, dark chocolate, vanilla, spritz of orange, cinnamon, and banana. There are gentle and lightly bitter (but not overly bitter) and oaky tannins with some orange peel, cinnamon, and coffee.
Post-“chewing” I’m left with caramel, banana, roasted oak, coffee, dark chocolate, dried orange, and light oak tannins that leave a pleasant roastiness.
The average mouthfeel and viscosity continue to expose the lower ABV. It’s a trade-off, super easy to drink and approachable, but at the expense of more richness, depth, and intensity. I’m more often attracted to the latter, but I still enjoy Woodford Double Oak for what it is. I just wish it had more of the viscous mouthfeel that’s in Old Forester 1910.
I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too.
Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Rating

Mid shelf+
I like Woodford Reserve Double Oaked a lot more than I did when I did my first review a few years back, although the “Mid Shelf+” rating has stayed the same. It has moments of dark richness and complexity, but ultimately settles-in as a tasty oak-forward bourbon with a fruity side that’s a bit too light for its own good…or for me at least.
The oaky chocolate, dark and toasted sweetness and vanilla, and spice are expected from double the oak, but the brighter fruitiness is completely unexpected. That brighter fruity presence isn’t even in Old Forester 1910. It’s surprisingly dynamic and lively, and a massive upgrade from the pretty bad Woodford Reserve base.
This just falls far short of its full potential because of the noticeably missing body and viscosity from the lower ABV. The Woodford Reserve brand is overly fixated on 45.2% ABV across pretty much everything except their Batch Proof and possibly some one-off releases, and it drags it down for me so many times.
Another glaring example of murder by water is Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon. It’s absolutely a refined and mature bourbon with a lot of delicious caramel, dark chocolate, and “sweet oak” character, but is flat out drowned in water. Woodford should hydrate themselves more, and the whiskey less.
I get it, I’m generally a proof whore, so take my criticism with some healthy skepticism because I am accustomed to higher ABV stuff. At the same time, I’m keenly aware that lower ABV does not have to mean lower body and richness. Unfortunately these days that’s what it usually means.
My long winded point is that Woodford Reserve Double oaked is an easy drinking and pleasantly oaky, spicy, and fruity bourbon that provides surprising range and vibrance, but could have been so much more. All things considered the $55-60 price (although price always varies by region) isn’t too bad. I’m not rushing out to buy more, but I will enjoy it while I have my one bottle.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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