Prohibition not only gave rise to organized crime and political corruption but it had a lasting effect on the liquor industry globally. Stifling American cocktail culture, which was exported overseas, the ban on alcohol also impacted the production side of things, such as “barrel entry proof.”
Prior to Prohibition, it was common for consumers to draft bourbon straight from the barrel. This meant, distillers had to proof down the stock prior to barreling so that it was pleasant for drinkers right away. When liquor became illegal, bottling became the norm. Following the repeal of Prohibition, the maximum entry proof was legally set at 110, which then rose to 125 in 1962, which helped distillers save money on production. Woodford Reserve’s 18th Master’s Collection release, entitled Historic Barrel Entry, pays homage to the traditional way of making whiskey.
Eschewing the now-standard 125 proof of bourbon before it enters the aging period, this new limited-edition expression boasts a barrel entry proof of 100. Where other bourbons add most of the water to the liquid after aging, Woodford Reserve’s new bourbon adds it beforehand, thus allowing the water itself to have contact with the barrel, which is now able to impart flavors to it. This offers a richer and bolder flavor, and one that’s more inherently drinkable after leaving the barrel, just as it was pre-Prohibition.
Now available from retailers, Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: Historic Barrel Entry bourbon retails for around $133.