A sold-out crowd packed into 333 First Avenue Monday night for School of Bourbon hosted by CultureMap, where Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris took 150 boozy students through the history of two brands, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve. Both are owned by Brown-Forman, the oldest spirits distillery in the United States.
Upon arrival, studious tipplers — including Derek Schuster, Joe Lafko, Matt Foster, Josh Robertson, Katherine Mongan, Jeneva O’Connor, Ann Parrish, Scott Talley, Bryan Smith, Jake Maes, Justin Baldwin, Gary Jones and Kevin Lavelle — headed to the bar for one of three cocktails: Woodford Manhattan, Old Forester Old Fashioned, or Woodford Belmont Jewel with lemonade and pomegranate juice. After noshing on a few bites from Wendy Krispin Caterer, they settled into their seats, ready to learn.
Students got schooled on four bourbon varieties: Old Forester 100 Proof, Old Forester 86 Proof, Woodford Reserve and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Morris explained Old Forester’s beginnings as the original bottled bourbon in 1870, as well as the shift in 1959, when the distillery introduced its 86 proof variety as a cocktail base during what he called “the Mad Men years.”
Woodford Reserve, Morris said, was introduced in 1996, after American tastes began to embrace the richness and complexities of bourbon again after decades of Mai Tais and Tequila Sunrises. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked was the distillery’s response to drinkers’ demand for an ultra-premium version.
Lest you think this was only an excellent excuse to drink good bourbon, all proceeds went to the North Texas Food Bank.