Buffalo Trace Distillery has more than 25,000 experimental barrels hiding within their vast warehouses scattered around their National Historic Landmark distillery campus in Frankfort, Kentucky. A few times a year they crack open the experimental vault and release some unicorns.
This latest release from the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection is a 12 year old wheated bourbon whiskey. This one is a bit different from some of the more exotic experiments the distillery has created. It’s not some unusual wood species or a one-off mash bill no, this time around it one of their standard wheated mash bills in a standard whiskey barrel but the bourbon was removed at the four year mark where water was added to cut the proof down and then it was placed back in the same barrel.
This wheated bourbon whiskey was distilled on December 7, 2007 and then barreled a few days later on December 10. It was originally distilled at 130 proof then entered into the barrel at 114 proof. Depending on a where a barrel is placed in the rickhouse bourbon generally gains proof as it matures. For this experiment the barrel was opened up, the bourbon was removed then proofed down to 100 proof then placed back in the same barrel where it was left to age for an additional eight years. The barrel spent a total of 12 years in Warehouse C. If you have been to the distillery Warehouse C, built in 1865, is the rickhouse directly across the road from the visitor center.
“We’ve always known water was a necessary component in making whiskey,” stated Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “This experiment helped us to understand how important a role water actually plays in whiskey production. The result of this experiment led us to a bourbon that is actually one of my favorite experiments.”
Wheatley’s tasting notes say this bourbon has a “nose that is sweet and floral, with notes of oak, vanilla, and a bit of leather. There’s a really smooth creamy mouthfeel here. The taste is a pleasing balance of butterscotch, honey, and wood with a crisp finish.”
23 Experiments Down, 24,977 to Experiments Go
This is only the 23rd release from the vast experimental collection that started back in 2006. Simple math tells us there are still more than 24,977 releases to go! That’s a lotta juice. Each experimental barrel has unique characteristics that differentiate them in distinct ways. Some examples of experiments include unique mash bills, types of wood, and different barrel toasts. Buffalo Trace also has an experimental warehouse, Warehouse X, which is designed to explore the extent of environmental influences on the flavor profiles of whiskey.
Buffalo Trace’s latest Experimental Collection Bourbon Whiskey release is bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV) and is packaged in 375ml bottles with a suggested retail price of $46.99. This latest release will be available in May.
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Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 12 Year Old Wheated Bourbon Cut at Four Years