So I'm always on the lookout for new accoutrements to dress up my whiskey cocktails. Woodford Reserve is definitely one of my go-to raw materials, and a half gallon is usually prominently displayed on my home bar. When I saw that Woodford had entered the cocktail accessory business, I was immediately intrigued and ordered up a couple of examples of their wares.
The first product that excited me was their Spiced Cherry Bitters at $18.95 for a 100 ml bottle. Since I add only a couple of dashes of bitters to most cocktails, this bottle should last a long time, despite the fact that I'm using the hell out of it. These bitters are made with sweet cherries which remind me of Luxardos. The addition of vanilla and clove characters and bitterness from gentian root make this a nice substitute for Angostura bitters in a Manhattan or Old-Fashioned. The fact that the bitters are aged in used Woodford Reserve barrels adds a nice note of oakiness to the whole proceedings and perfectly complements the bourbon.
But why not go all the way and use Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries as a finishing garnish? No reason, that's why. At $16.95 for a jar, they cost about the same as Luxardos and are a nice change of pace. Please don't ever ruin a perfectly good cocktail by using those neon bright Maraschino cherries as a garnish! Feh.
Both these products are manufactured by a Louisville-based company called Bourbon Barrel Foods. I've been fortunate enough to visit Matt Jamie's operation at BBF to see him make the only artisan soy sauce manufactured in the U.S., as well as bourbon barrel-smoked sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. I use all of these products frequently in my home kitchen, so when I saw that he was working with one of my favorite bourbon producers, it was a no-brainer. Which is good considering how much bourbon I drink.
Check out the whole line of Bourbon Barrel products at their website where you can order for quick delivery. It's a family affair at BBF, so some member of the Jamie clan will probably pack and ship your order. Or visit their facility sometime and come back with a trunkload like I did last year. Your friends will thank you.