Published on January 23rd, 2015 | by Sophia Longhi


Woodford Reserve Bourbon Tasting @ Peg+Patriot

One thing I am not is a bourbon connoisseur, but as my delicate little taste-buds mature, I am beginning to crave a new palate of flavours – spicy, oaky ones that would probably marry rather nicely with a swirl of cigar smoke. I’ll just grab my pipe and slippers now, shall I? Appreciating something begins with learning about it, and who better to be my teacher than a brand ambassador for the multi-award winning, Woodford Reserve.

If the UK is currently experiencing a bourbon renaissance, then Woodford Reserve is its pioneer. It is huge on the Manhattan bar scene and it has fast become London’s best bartenders’ bourbon of choice, especially as the demand for classic American cocktails is at an all-time high. But what is it about it that has seduced bartenders around the capital?

First of all, it is crafted at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, which is America’s oldest and smallest distillery. Note that it is ‘crafted’, as in by hand, in small batches – not manufactured. They still use copper pots to triple distil the bourbon, the only bourbon distillery to use this method, meaning that its quality is checked at every stage, resulting in a true and unique taste. I’m sold.

Our intimate tasting session is held at the Peg + Patriot in Bethnal Green, a bar so serious about their spirits that they craft their own, and they are experts in mixing a cocktail or two. We try Woodford Reserve in a couple of American classics – an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan – and Peg + Patriot’s own Woodford-inspired creation, the Super Soaker.


Straight up, Woodford Reserve is at first aromatic – the heady mix of fruits, mint, tobacco spice, vanilla and maybe a hint of leather hits the nose pleasantly and its rounded, sweet caramel flavours make it a treat to drink on its own. The perfect combination of citrus flavours and chewy toffee makes for an excellent Old Fashioned – smooth, zesty, full of butterscotch flavours and a hint of spice. Similarly, Woodford’s smoky notes, made so by its early life in charred oak barrels, come alive in a Manhattan, and its mint and dried fruit dimensions marry sublimely with the sweet, herbal Vermouth.

The Super Soaker, made with the Peg + Patriot’s own watermelon infused Woodford Reserve, arrives looking supremely elegant in a vintage stemmed glass. Mixed with Cocchi di Torino, Campari, sugar and a few drops of acid sulphate and garnished with an orange twist, it takes traditional American cocktail flavours and blends them with refreshing innovation. Its gorgeous autumnal appearance – all ambers and orange – makes it a sumptuous drink for wintery weather, yet the fruity watermelon infusion hints that it would be a great go-to cocktail for the summer months too.

Look out for the new variant of Woodford Reserve – Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, which is launching now in the UK. Matured for a second time in a heavily charred barrel, the Double Oaked was inspired by the success of the different ageing methods used in the brand’s Seasoned Oak Master’s Collection, and offers a more complex bourbon, tasting of vanilla, dark caramel, hazelnut, apple and spices.

Still no connoisseur, but definitely a convert.



Peg and Patriot, Patriot Square, E2 9NF

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About the Author

Lioneye Media lionesses, Sophia and Rebecca, can tweet with one hand whist sipping an espresso martini with the other. Dedicated food, wine and cocktail connoisseurs, they love nothing better than scoping out London for its best bars and restaurants. Follow their exploits and breakfast pics on Twitter @LioneyeMedia

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