What’s next? After more than twenty years of experimentation, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, is rolling out the latest release of its prized Experimental Collection. This round of tinkering was conducted to find out how different wood grains affect bourbon aging. In particular, what impact do barrels made from fast-growth oak trees with coarse grain patterns have on aging, versus barrels made of oak from slow-growth trees with fine grain?
Here are some answers:
1. FINE GRAIN OAK: These barrels were filled July13, 1994 and bottled May 7, 2009. Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. After more than 14 years of aging, the slow-growth, fine-grain wood concentrated the sugars and imparted extra doses of caramel and vanilla. The bourbon is rich and exceedingly sweet with an almost syrupy character. It also has a nice balance of flavors and complexity. (These are their notes, I haven’t tasted it yet myself.)
2. COARSE GRAIN OAK: The filling and aging time on these barrels is the same as with the fine grain. After nearly 15 years in the barrel, this whiskey is dry with a balance of smokiness and wood with herbal qualities. The finish is quick and woody and it is slightly heavy with a powerful complexity. (Again, their notes.)
“We continue to learn new and interesting information from these experiments. We never know how they are going to turn out,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “It’s also great to see the excitement that surrounds these releases. The customer feedback is great.”
There are more than 1,500 experimental barrels of whiskey now aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace. Each has unique characteristics that make it different from all others. Some examples include unique mash bills, types of wood, and different barrel toasts. In order to further increase the scope, flexibility, and range of the experimental program, an entire micro distillery complete with cookers, fermenting tanks and a state of the art micro still has been constructed within the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles. Each label includes all of the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. The two new ones are being released now. Suggested retail price is $46.35 each. Each experiment is rare and very limited. For more information on the Experimental Collection or the other products of Buffalo Trace Distillery, contact Kris Comstock at firstname.lastname@example.org.