Situated on the Kentucky River in Frankfurt, Buffalo Trace Distillery takes its name from an ancient pathway that migrating buffalo used when travelling westward. The trail was well-known among Native Americans and was eventually used by pioneering settlers who crossed the Ohio River and followed the buffalo trace to the Western frontier.
The distillery, which stands as the oldest distilling site in the United States, has a rich tradition of experimentation and innovation. "Toying with barrels is fun and interesting," says Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery and a Kentucky native. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Chemistry, Wheatley began working for a chemical company while taking classes in Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky. Since 1995, he has been working at Buffalo Trace Distillery and has been master distiller for nearly a decade. At any given time, Buffalo Trace has up to 1,500 different casks of experimental whiskies maturing in its rickhouses.
While most bourbons are made from a mash of corn, malted barley and rye, some distilleries like to experiment with the final ingredient. For instance, Pappy van Winkle and Larceny Bourbon both replace rye with wheat as their final ingredient. Buffalo Trace Experimental Rice Bourbon Whiskey and Oat Bourbon Whiskey replace the rye with rice and oats, respectively.
"For this experiment, we were curious to taste what would happen when we substituted the rye grain in our traditional recipe with other grains like rice and oats," says Wheatley. "The results are very different from each other and different than typical bourbon, but both are pleasant surprises."Both the rice bourbon and oats bourbon were each distilled on April 20, 2002 and matured on seventh floor of Warehouse I for 9 years and 5 months.
Buffalo Trace Rice Bourbon Whiskey has an aroma of caramel and baking spices. The initial palette is surprising, with a crisp and light flavor. The notes of vanilla, toffee and oak fade to flavors of brown rice and a touch of malted sweetness.
Buffalo Trace Oats Bourbon Whiskey has a smoky nose with notes of oak and woody spice. Notes of figs and dried fruits fade to bold and bitter notes of oak and oats.
Buffalo Trace Experimental Hot Box Toasted Barrel Bourbon is made by maturing a unique mash of Buffalo Trace Bourbon for nearly 17 years in toasted barrels. The barrels are created by heating the oak staves that comprise the barrel in a hot box - an appliance often used to heat foods - at 133 degrees Fahrenheit. After the staves have been toasted, they are steamed before being assembled into a barrel. This method of coopering allows the barrels to develop a unique flavor profile, which is ultimately transferred to the maturing bourbon. Buffalo Trace Experimental Hot Box Toasted Barrel Bourbon was aged for 16 years and 8 months, and has notes of dried fruits and vanilla, which are complemented by a caramel and buttery taste.
Buffalo Trace Experimental #7 Heavy Char Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is also made by maturing a unique mash of Buffalo Trace Bourbon. The barrels used in this experiment were charred for 3.5 minutes, as opposed to the normal 55 second char typically used by Buffalo Trace Distillery. As a result, the bourbon, which was aged for 15 years and 9 months, has an oaky aroma followed by a heavy, complex body. The robust notes of smoke and wood and complemented by hints of vanilla, fruits and toffee.
"These experiments yielded very interesting and balanced flavor profiles that I think most people will enjoy tasting," says Wheatley.
Pick up a bottle and experiment today!
90 (45% ABV)
Buffalo Trace Distillery
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Rice: Aroma of caramel and baking spices. Notes of vanilla, toffee and oak fade to flavors of brown rice and a touch of malted sweetness.