Some time over the summer, I was asked by Buffalo Trace if I would like to come to the distillery in September, during the Bourbon Festival, to taste one of their failed experiments.
It's a measure of how strange this obsession is that I didn't hesitate. "Of course," I said.
Buffalo Trace has been experimenting for about 20 years. Everybody experiments, but Buffalo Trace has done things others don't, like release the results of some of the experiments as part of their Experimental Collection.
It's always been understood that some of the experiments are pronounced failures and the whiskey is discarded. Here was a case where they considered the experiment a failure, but thought I might like to taste its product anyway.
That's because the experiment involved aging bourbon in small barrels. Specifically, 5 gallon, 10 gallon and 15 gallon barrels. Yes, those are the sizes micro-distillers use.
I last wrote about small barrels in July, prompted by something John Hansell posted on his blog.
I write in depth about the Buffalo Trace experiment in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, which dropped today. You really should subscribe and read the whole story, but I won't keep you in suspense. The whiskey was standard Buffalo Trace bourbon and it was aged in the small barrels for five years. It tasted bad. The whiskey from the 5 gallon barrel tasted worst.
Tasting them, you could get some ideas about why they tasted so bad. I talk about that too.
The December, 2011, issue of The Bourbon Country Reader is Volume 14, Number 2. In it, we also tell the story of The Great Whiskey Glut, observe the changing of the guard at Virginia Gentlemen, and taste two limited edition releases from A. Smith Bowman and Heaven Hill.
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