Four Woods, One Bourbon
Woodford Reserve recently announced its newest Master’s Collection flavor: Four Wood. The limited-release, 94.4 proof bourbon, was matured in American Oak barrels for six to seven years before finishing in maple for two years, and Sherry and Port barrels for six months each.
During a food pairing at the distillery with Louisville chef Ouita Michel, various cheeses, almonds, pickled plums, and a variety of other flavorful foods brought out the characteristics of each wood in the bourbon. Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris explained that the woods selected and the amount of time aged in each was specifically balanced to create a blended taste, so that no single flavor overtakes the others.
This is the seventh year Woodford has released a Master’s Collection flavor, each created by Morris to honor the brand’s original owner and master distiller. To develop each selection, he changes one source of flavor in the bourbon: grain, fermentation, distillation or maturation. The other three, and the water, are the same used to make original Woodford Reserve.
The Master’s Collection has previously included Four Grain, Sonoma Finish, Sweet Mash, Seasoned Oak Finish, Maple Wood Finish, and Aged Cask Rye/New Cask Rye (released together last year). The Woodford Reserve Four Wood Master’s Collection is available for a suggested retail price of $99.
High-End Hotels Tap Into Private-Label Tequilas
In-depth beverage programs include an incredible variety of drinks, but there is nothing like offering a unique spirit in-house. It’s fun for guests to try something that’s only available on one property, especially when they can get exposed to the production process. These types of unique spirits offerings can also make a hotel or restaurant visit stand out, particularly among high-end guests craving a unique tasting experience.
A handful of high-end, hotel-produced tequilas have been leading the way in this trend. One luxury resort in Mexico has also set the bar fairly high for a unique, in-house product. The CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort, a more than 400-room hotel a handful of hours north of Jalisco, debuted its program in 2001. It was inspired by the presence of blue agave plants—from which genuine and certified tequila is produced—growing on the premises of the hotel.
The hotel produces an exclusive batch of just 800 liters of five different kinds of its private-label tequila, which is only available to special guests and VIP visitors. The hotel, which received Consejo Regulador de Tequila certification and employs tequila expert Audrey Formisano, offers more than 230 tequilas on its lists. The CasaMagna also provides extensive tequila training for its entire staff.
The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ, a high-end resort with about 600 rooms, has been cutting edge in catering to its guests’ passion for tequila as well. Given the hotel’s already expansive list and location in the southwest—where many guest and locals tend to have more enthusiasm for tequila than in other parts of the country—the choice was perhaps a natural one.
In tandem with spirits company Beam, the hotel launched the El Tesoro de Don Felipe Tequila in 2009. Mac Gregory, director of food and beverage, franchise North America Division, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, says the tequila was created as a signature enhancement for both resort guests and local residents.
El Tesoro de Don Felipe is aged in Cognac and Bourbon bottles, and each product is hand numbered. The tequila is available only at the resort, either by the glass or bottle and for take-away purchase. The product sells for $35 for a 2-oz. pour, and $175 a bottle at the hotel’s wine and spirits shop.