Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer

”Red Red Wine”

Whisky Review # 896

Country: USA
Region: Kentucky
Brand: Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer (Master's Collection)
Distilled at: Woodford Reserve/Brown-Forman Distillery, Versailles, Kentucky
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.2%
Maturation: New Charred American Oak casks + Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish
Chill Filtration: N/A
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Average Price: Around US$ 120 (December 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Way too expensive for what it offers.
Buying Advice: 👎The overlong Red Wine finish leaves this Woodford unbalanced. 

Colour: Brown with hues of Orange and Red (Natural Color)


Sweet but pleasant Nose with lots of Caramel, Spices and Dark Berries. The Alcohol is slightly noticeable as well as a distant Iron-like off-note. Nothing serious though. The Red Wine slightly overpowers the Bourbon but on the Nose this is not a big problem.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Corn, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit such as Blackberries, Cherries and Blackcurrants, Red Wine, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove and Charred Oak.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Toffee, Treacle, Seville-Orange, Nectarine, Coconut Milk, Dark and Bitter Chocolate, Pepper, Leather, Tobacco and Licorice. A distant hint of Cheese with Mustard as my mother used to make on birthday parties when I was young.


The balance between Bourbon and Pinot Noir was quite good on the Nose but on the Palate it's a different story. Here the slightly Sour Red Wine takes the lead and that leaves a bit of a mess. No coherence at all in this department. This is always a risk with Red-Wine finished spirit. You can easily overdo it and that's clearly the case here.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit like Blackcurrants, Cherries and Blackberries,  Seville-Orange, Dark Bitter Chocolate, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Brown Sugar, Buttered Pastry, Toffee, Treacle, Fruit Cake, slightly Bitter Almonds, Coconut, Dry Earth, Tobacco and Leather.


Middle-Long and rather Un-balanced. The slightly Sour Red Wine notes completely dominate the Bourbon at this point. We can safely state that 10 months Wine cask was too much for the Woodford Spirit. I find a mix of Sweet, Sour, Earthy and Green notes such as Sweet Corn, Dark Red Fruit (Berries), Red Wine, Dried Herbs, Seville-Orange, Forest Floor, slightly Bitter Almonds, Charred Oak, Resin, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate and Christmas Spices.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample, I only tasted this Woodford neat. I do believe it probably won't take a lot of Water.

Rating: 83.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good


This is the 9th release in the Master's Collection. It has been finished in casks that previously held Pinot Noir Red Wine from the well-known Sonoma-Cutrer Winery in California's Russian River. The Mash Bill is said to contain Corn (72%), Rye (18%) and Malted Barley (10%). The standard Woodford Reserve matured for roughly 7 years in new charred American Oak casks before being finished for 10 months in the wine barrels.

Red Wine Cask Finishing is a tricky thing when you talk about Whisky or Whiskey for that matter. It's a total art to find the fine balance between the Spirit and the Red Wine casks. Woodford did not succeed in finding this balance with the Sonoma-Cutrer Finish. The Whiskey overstayed its time in the Wine barrels leaving the end-product too Winy. At least for my taste. So it's back to the drawing board for Brown Forman I'm afraid!


Jan van den Ende                                                                   December 9, 2020

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