Buffalo Trace Closing Out 2015 Experimental Release with Two 13 Year-Old Sour Mash Bourbons

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Buffalo Trace Distillery has returned to its roots with the latest release in their long-running experimental whiskey program, a bourbon made using an old-fashioned process of souring the mash. They are not kidding when they say “Experimental Whiskey Program”, in this case the experiment yielded only three barrels of each of these releases for a total of six barrels. If you’re interested, you better start looking around for a bottle now!

Distilled in May of 2002, this Old Fashioned Sour Mash experiment used Buffalo Trace’s proprietary mash.  The bourbon was cooked and cooled to standard; however, the similarities stop there. The mash was allowed “to sour” before yeast was added to start the fermentation process, a method long abandoned due to its more laborious process.

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This sour mash method differs from the more common process used today by nearly all bourbon manufacturers. The routine method calls for cooking and cooling the mash, and then immediately adding yeast and a small amount of previously distilled mash (or “setback”) as it cools to sour the mash.   The traditional old-fashioned sour mash process fell out of favor many years ago, and it was not until a gathering of distillery “old timers” that Buffalo Trace was inspired to revive it.

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After the sour mash was distilled, it was entered into barrels at two different entry proofs, 105 and 125. The differences are subtle, when you take a look at the details below I highlighted the differences in red. Most things are identical except for the entry proof and of course the distiller’s tasting notes. Aged for 13 years on the seventh floor of Warehouse I, the two different entry proofs took on unique characteristics. The 105 entry proof delivers a light body, with notes of vanilla and fruit, and a dry, nice finish, while the 125 entry proof offers a medium flavored body, with spicy flavors mingled with caramel, and a balanced pleasing finish.

These barrels are part of more than 4,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each of them has unique characteristics that differentiate them in distinct ways. Some examples of experiments 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, named The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. “OFC” Micro Distillery, complete with cookers, fermenting tanks, and a state-of-the-art micro still has been constructed within Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace has increased its commitment to experimentation with the recent addition of its Warehouse X. Although small in size, Warehouse X is designed to explore the extent of environmental influences on the flavor profiles of whiskey.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Warehouse X
Buffalo Trace Warehouse X Building

The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles, with two bottles from each entry proof in a case. Both entry proofs were bottled at 90 proof.  Each label includes all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each and will be available in late September, 2015. Experimental Collection releases are generally quite small and have limited availability.

Experiment: Old Fashioned Sour MashEntry Proof 105, Final Proof 90

Buffalo Trace Warehouse X - OFSM Experimental Sept 15 105 Entry Proof - 90 ProofMaster Distiller Notes: Nice aroma of vanilla. The taste is light yet balanced. Sweet notes of butterscotch and honey mingle with jammed fruit and a hint of licorice and oak. The body is light. There is a dry nice finish.

Type: Bourbon Whiskey
Release No. 19 (1 of 2)

Age Profile

Date Distilled: 5/1/2002
Proof for Release: 90

Recipe

Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash #2

Cooking / Fermentation

Mash Type: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Still Proof: 135
Barrel Type: Charred White Oak
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Staves: 3 month air dried
Treatment: #4 Char
Entry Proof: 105
Warehouse: I
Floor:
 7
Rick / Row / Slot: 22/2/1
Evaporation Loss: 66.2% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Bottle Proof: 45% ALC/Vol (90 Proof)
Total Production: 3 Barrels
Filtration: Chill Filtered
Date Distilled: 5/1/2002
Date Barreled: 5/1/2002
Date Bottled: 8/20/2015
Age at Bottling: 13 Years, 3 Months

Experiment: Old Fashioned Sour Mash – Entry Proof 125, Final Proof 90

Buffalo Trace Warehouse X - OFSM Experimental Sept 15 125 Entry Proof - 90 ProofMaster Distiller Notes: The nose is rich with woody notes. A sip brings an array of flavor. Popcorn and a slight spice hits the tongue first. Light caramel and vanilla balance with notes of cocoa, oak, and a hint of fruit. The body is medium. The finish is very balanced and pleasing.

Type: Bourbon Whiskey
Release No. 19 (2 of 2)

Age Profile

Date Distilled: 5/1/2002
Proof for Release: 90

Recipe

Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash #2

Cooking / Fermentation

Mash Type: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Still Proof: 135
Barrel Type: Charred White Oak
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Staves: 3 month air dried
Treatment: #4 Char
Entry Proof: 125
Warehouse: I
Floor:
 7
Rick / Row / Slot: 50/2/1
Evaporation Loss: 54.8% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Bottle Proof: 45% ALC/Vol / Volume (90 Proof)
Total Production: 3 Barrels
Filtration: Chill Filtered
Date Distilled: 5/1/2002
Date Barreled: 5/1/2002
Date Bottled: 8/20/2015
Age at Bottling: 13 Years, 3 Months

Buffalo Trace Warehouse X OFSM Experimental Sept 15

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