Video: Woodford Reserve’s Master Distiller Talks Kentucky Malt Whiskey

Woodford Reserve recently expanded their core portfolio with Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey.

This is not an American single malt. (The brand previously released a 100% malt American whiskey in their Master’s Collection.) This is Kentucky malt: the grain bill is only 51% malt. The rest of the recipe is the same corn and rye that comprises most Woodford Reserve products.

The result is a malt-forward whiskey with a backbone of classic Woodford Reserve fruit, spice and rich-sweet notes.

Why make a Kentucky straight malt? “I’m always exploring the boundaries of what whiskey is in Kentucky and the U.S. I’m chasing flavors,” explains Woodford Reserve’s Master Distiller Chris Morris, who’s known for his flavor experimentations. He presented the new spirit during a tasting this week at Liquor Lab in Manhattan.

The whiskey is not a response to the recent rise of the American single malt category, Morris says. After all, liquid that went into this spirit first entered barrels in 2009. And this new Woodford Reserve tastes nothing like American single malts, which Morris considers an advantage.

“I think this is going to be a fly in their ointment,” he says with a laugh. “Everyone is chasing American single malt, and along comes a Kentucky malt. We want to change people’s perceptions about what American malt is. We hope to bring disruption to the category.”

To hear Morris describe the history, production and flavors of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey, check out the video below. (Apologies for the air conditioner that roars into the video around the 00:52 mark.)

Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris on Kentucky Malt Whiskey from kyle swartz on Vimeo.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Wholesaler. Reach him at or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece 7 Whiskey Trends in 2018.


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