The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) requires distillers to age their whiskey inside a “new charred oak container” in order to legally call it bourbon. It’s common knowledge that the most widely used type of wood used for bourbon barrels is American White Oak. Though that does a wonderful job and provides those vanilla and caramel notes we all love it’s not the only choice distillers and cooperages have for oak. When it comes to the type of oak it can come from any country and can be of any type as long as its oak.
Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky has been experimenting with the origin, age, species and preparation of oak with its Old Charter Oak series. Introduced in 2018 the Old Charter Oak collection is designed to explore, honor, and celebrate the role of oak in making great whiskey. Some barrels are even made from century oaks, 100, 200, or 300 year old oak trees.
Canadian Oak Barrels Aged for 10 Years
The newest Canadian Oak release includes a small number of barrels from Canada and filled with Mash #1, the same mashbill used to make Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and several other bourbons at the Distillery. Canadian oak trees differ from American oak trees in that they are harder and have a tighter grain structure, which affects the bourbon as it ages.
Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley explains the difference further by stating, “The tighter grain allows the whiskey to penetrate more layers in the wood, but it does take it longer to do it. So the longer the bourbon ages, the more flavor can be extracted.”
Old Charter Oak Series Planned through 2030
This is the third release in the Old Charter Oak Collection. The first two releases were Mongolian Oak and French Oak. All the Old Charter Oak Bourbon series will be released over time, with a fourth release scheduled for early 2020. Subsequent releases are planned a few times each year, indefinitely.
“We’re excited to release this third bourbon in this exploratory series. We have bourbon aging for the Old Charter Oak collection scheduled for release now through 2030, but we’ll keep producing more each year for more new whiskeys beyond that,” said Kris Comstock, senior marketing director.
The Old Charter brand dates back to 1874, with its creation by Adam and Ben Chapeze, naming it in honor of the Charter Oak tree, a famous symbol of American independence and free spirit, which grew in Connecticut in the 12th or 13th century until it fell in a storm in 1856.
The Old Charter brand changed owners a few times, until it was purchased by Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999. The existing Old Charter Bourbon is still produced by parent company Sazerac and there are no plans to discontinue it.
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Tasting Notes for Old Charter Oak Aged 10 Years in Canadian Oak Barrels
Tasting notes provided by the distillery say the bourbon has a nose of caramel and berries. The palate has hints of vanilla and maple syrup. A long finish of oak, chocolate and pepper round it out.
The 2019 Old Charter Oak ‘Canadian Oak’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV) and has a suggested retail price of $69.99. Like the first two releases in this series, supplies will be limited. The latest Old Charter Oak will be available at retail outlets in late October.
Buffalo Trace Distillery Extends Old Charter Oak Series with 12 Year Old Bourbon Aged in French Oak Barrels
Buffalo Trace Introduces a New Kentucky Bourbon Aged 10 Years in Oak from the Forests of Mongolia
Old Charter Oak ‘Canadian Oak’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey