Twice Barreled Bourbon Review

We here at BoozeNerds like bourbon. A lot. We’ve been trying to decide what we’d like to start this here blog off with. We felt that the double barreled bourbons are tasty and a little out of the ordinary. So we thought it would interesting to see how the double barreling affects the flavors, and also to compare them to see how they do in some of our favorite bourbon-based cocktails.

The two double barreled bourbons we have in the cabinet are Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Prichard’s Double Barreled. We thought it would be good to have a regular bourbon as a control, so we included the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select as well. We would love to include the Prichard’s regular, but sadly such a thing is not on offer to our knowledge. Of course should we ever have access to it we’d happily redo our experiment.  🙂

It almost seems unfair. Almost

First we tasted the spirits straight. Then we tried them in a couple classic cocktails to see how each of them compared. We started with a Manhattan and then moved onto The Derby.

Spirit tasting notes

Prichard’s Double Barreled

  • Nose: Expected oak and vanilla notes but not overly sweet. A hint of wood smoke.
  • Palate: Really strong butterscotch at the front, then a light taste of the promised wood smoke with black pepper spiciness (more so than either Woodford) and some pecan notes on the mid-palate. Rich, creamy mouth feel and full body but still a nice brightness and acidity from the corn side of the mash. This provides a welcome cereal note to balance the oak. Shaun says “Tastes like delicious bourbon!”.

Woodford Double Oaked

  • Nose: Orange peel, maple, strong vanilla and caramel notes
  • Palate: Vanilla and toasty oak, strong maple undertones  in comparison to the Prichard’s butterscotch. Warm as opposed to peppery spice in the middle. Bitter notes kick in after the spice through to a smooth finish. A little dryer and lighter body than the Prichard’s.  Shaun says “Also tastes like delicious bourbon!”

Woodford Distiller’s Select

  • Nose: Like a lighter version of the Double Oaked. More vanilla notes, less oak, just  hints of the orange and maple.
  • Palate: Vanilla and light oak to start, with  apricot and a little maple following. A little sweeter than either of the double barreled bourbons, and has a nice creaminess. No bitterness on the finish. Mouth feel is about the same as the Double Oaked.

Manhattan

Prichard’s Double Barreled

  • Rich, creamy mouth feel carries over from the base spirit. Well blended with the Carpano and bitters; the richness and slight hint of smoke from the bourbon balances the bittersweet they bring to the mix. The herbal element of the vermouth surfaces a little more. This drink has a heavier body and coats the palate more than the others.

Woodford Double Oaked

  • Lighter and less creamy than with the Prichard’s. The oak is more pronounced. There’s a strong hit of bitter on the finish between the bourbon and the vermouth.

Woodford Distiller’s Select

  • Lighter bodied yet and a little sweeter than the other two. The creamy taste of the base spirit shines through though, and  balances well with the vermouth and bitters.

The Derby with Combier

Prichard’s Double Barreled

  • The full body and lush mouth feel of the base spirit isn’t as apparent here. The flavor is good and the lime shines through, but the orange notes of the Combier get muted.

Woodford Double Oaked

  • Sweeter than the Prichard’s. Really round, full flavors.  The orange notes really sing without overpowering the lime or the vanilla/oak of the bourbon. The warm spices in the base spirit really come up too.

Woodford Distiller’s Select

  • Not as well-balanced as the Double-Oaked or the Prichard’s. Still nice, but nothing really shone, and the woody notes of the oak stood out more than expected.

The Derby with Grand Marnier because it seemed like a good idea

We liked the Woodford Double Oaked so well in The Derby, it seemed like it would be worth another iteration. Our thought was that the brandy richness of Grand Marnier would add even more to the full flavors of the WDO version of the drink. We discovered this was not the case…

  • Nice but not as nice as with Combier. Nice rich brandy flavor on the intro, but then a little bit harsher on the mid-palate and the finish. The flavors mute markedly after the intro.  You catch more of the herbal notes of the vermouth after the initial brandy taste, but not in a way that’s harmonious with the rest of the drink.

Our take

All three are very nice sipping bourbons and we’d happily drink any of them. For the cocktails each worked well, but to our minds and palates the Prichard’s made the best Manhattan with its rich creamy body and lovely integration, and for the Derby the Woodford Double Oaked was clearly the best with it’s bright spiciness and the clear orange notes.

Now you’re starting to see the BoozeNerds conundrum. How can you choose which bottle to keep in stock when all of them work well at different things? Of course our solution is to simply own all three. Because you never knows what you’ll be in the mood for. 🙂

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