Buffalo Trace Bourbon!

That’s “Buffalo Trace Bourbon!”, folks, as in, it’s back in Ontario! Sorry for the overt enthusiasm, but I quite like this whiskey and we haven’t had it around these parts for a while now.

But there’s more to this post, and it’s the Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project, the fourth installment of which will be released later this month. For those not in the American whiskey loop, the Single Oak Project (www.singleoakproject.com) is an extensive and ongoing series of experiments whereby Buffalo Trace compares the effect of different factors — wood cut, seasoning and char, warehouse influence, etc. — on singular whiskeys. Neat, eh?

For whiskey geeks, this is a dream come true, providing — and here’s the rub — they’re willing to pay for it. And pay rather dearly.

Here, for instance, are the details of the new release:

In this experiment, Warehouses K and L are highlighted. Warehouse K is a brick warehouse built in 1933 with wooden floors. There are nine floors total in Warehouse K and barrels are stored three high in the ricks. It is considered a good warehouse for different ages of bourbons. It has good air flow, with the first floor being cool and damp for slow aging and the top floor being hot and dry, which ages young barrels more quickly.

Warehouse L is also a brick warehouse, but with concrete floors. It was built in 1936 and has five floors. The barrels are stored six high. Warehouse L is considered the best all-around warehouse by some at the Distillery. The windows on the west side of the building bring a consistent air flow. With its slow temperature changes, Warehouse L is great for slow aging wheat bourbons. Its concrete walls and floors create a very concentrated aging environment.

Two other additional variables will be explored in this fourth release, recipe and grain size. Some of the bottles contain bourbon made with rye and others with wheat. The barrels themselves were made from different trees, each with varying degrees of thickness to their wood grain, from fine to average to very coarse. All other variables in the experimental project remain constant, such as the stave seasoning, tree cut, char level and entry proof.

There are  a limited number of cases of this release and each case contains one bottle of each of the barrels culled for this go-round. Each bottle is 375 ml and the suggested retail is $46.35. Consumers who buy the bourbon are encouraged to register at the website and post their tasting notes.

So it boils down to this: For almost fifty bucks, you can buy a half-bottle of a whiskey you really don’t know that much about and the provenance of which you can only discover once you go online to help the distillery with their research. As much as I understand the expense of the Project and admire the determination Buffalo Trace has shown in pursuing it, that still seems to me a rather high price to pay to become a glorified focus group participant.


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