Final Verdict

This is one bourbon sure to blow your budget. But if you've got the cash (or better yet, a wonderful partner who spoils you rotten) than the Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish is one whiskey you're definitely going to enjoy sipping slow.

“It will be mine. Oh yes… it will be mine.”

Anyone who’s seen Wayne’s World  is familiar with this line, a promise Wayne makes to one day purchase the guitar of his dreams. I uttered a very similar phrase, except it wasn’t targeted at a guitar, but rather at this bottle of Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Finish bourbon.

What made it so special is that some how, this exclusive, rare and very expensive whiskey wound up in the (somewhat dingy and ill-stocked) liquor store down the street from me. Priced well outside my price range (and most other patrons of the store) it sat for weeks alone on the shelves near the cash register usually filled with sample bottles.

It was before Christmas, and my one hope was that it would survive the holidays so that I might get it in the New Year with some careful bourbon budgeting. But one day, I walked in and it was gone. I cursed the wealthy person who popped in and robbed me of one of my most anticipated drinks, and I moved on to more affordable drams.

Come Christmas morning, however, I was in for a pleasant surprise. My partner had (against all reason) bought it for me. I was ecstatic just to own such a relatively exclusive bottle of bourbon. But the real question remained — how did it taste?

Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish Bourbon Review

The first time I ever heard about this whiskey I was browsing the excellent Blundon Bourbon Review, and while it didn’t earn a coveted “A” rating from them, the tasting notes and description really intrigued me. I like Woodford Reserve, I like a good Cali Pinot Noir — I had a sneaking suspicion I’d love the Sonoma-Cutrer Finish.

It pours a deep red amber, looking similar to the wine whose barrels it’s finished in. The nose was brilliantly complex — the Sonoma-Cutrer Finish has a veritable cornucopia of fruit, with strawberries, cherries, and even a citrus note like grapefruit. Underneath the fruit was a foundation of charcoal wood and the promise of some caramel.

While the nose was fruity and sweet, herbs and spices greet your tongue. The strawberries, citrus and dark fruit are still there, but are made even more interesting with a kick of black pepper, a touch of chocolate and a pinch of tobacco. It’s remarkably easy-drinking, probably due to its manageable 45.2% ABV. The finish softens into sweet peaches, and the wine finally makes its presence known as the rest of the flavours fade. Overall, this is a damn fine bourbon with a level of complexity most scotches can only aspire to.