Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2023 Old Charter Oak Series, Spanish Oak

Buffalo Trace Distillery in FrankfortKentucky has announced the fifth release in its Old Charter Oak Collection. The Spring 2023 oak tree varietal release explores the use of Spanish Oak (Quercus hispanica). Harvested from the forests of northern Spain, the trees used in this year’s experiment were made into staves that were seasoned outdoors before becoming the barrels that aged this unique whiskey.

Spanish Oak Bourbon was aged at the distillery and offers a stark contrast to its counterparts aged in traditional American Oak barrels. Buffalo Trace says that while American Oak gives a softer, sweeter taste with notes of vanilla and caramel, European Oak, including the Spanish Oak varietal, is drier, spicier and has stronger wood input. Long used for aging the world’s finest sherries, Spanish Oak imbues tasting notes of deep oak and dense caramel, followed by rich vanilla and an abundance of dark stone fruit, finishing with notes of toasted nuts and baking spice.

Spanish Oak Offers Higher Proportions of Eugenol, Vanillin and Whiskey Lactone

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Buffalo Trace Distillery - Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley
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Buffalo Trace Distillery Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley.

“The whiskey extracts from the charred oak barrel exciting elements like eugenol, vanillin and whiskey lactone,” said Buffalo Trace Distillery Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatley. “American Oak has higher proportions of vanillin and whiskey lactone, resulting in bourbon with a softer, sweeter taste and notes of vanilla and caramel. Our Spanish Oak, on the other hand, has more eugenol, meaning drier, spicier notes and flavors like clove are imparted onto the liquid. We specifically wanted to test Spanish Oak as part of this collection because of its connection to sherry, which is known to be a nuttier, fruitier spirit. We were curious how those flavors would impact the taste of whiskey, and we are very pleased with the result.”

The Old Charter Oak collection honors and celebrates the role of oak in making great whiskey by exploring the various possible taste profiles of whiskey resulting from barrels created from trees grown in different countries, climates, and soil. The oak trees used each year vary by country of origin, species, or U.S. state with some barrels made from century-old trees that grew between 100 to 300 years.

The Making of Bourbon Does Not Require White Oak Barrels

“A common misconception about the distilling process is that bourbon must be aged in new American Oak barrels,” Wheatley continued.

“Though most bourbons mature in American White Oak barrels, federal regulations do not specify what type of oak the barrel must be, only that it must be a new, charred oak container. At Buffalo Trace Distillery, we are deeply committed to honoring the traditions of our category but also embracing change and pushing the limits of innovation to see where American whiskey can go in the future. Our Old Charter Oak collection is a superb example of trying new things and offering consumers and fans more ways to enjoy our award-winning portfolio of whiskeys.”

Old Charter Oak – Spanish Oak Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Old Charter Oak – Spanish Oak Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey joins the four previous releases in the Old Charter Oak series, including Chinkapin Oak, Mongolian Oak, French Oak, and Canadian Oak. Buffalo Trace says the packaging for Spanish Oak will remain consistent with the other releases, with an upscale look consisting of a glass bottle with a cork finish. Each bottle has an oak medallion on the front depicting the Charter Oak tree. Old Charter Oak – Spanish Oak bourbon is bottled at 92% proof (46%ABV) with a suggested retail price of $69.99 for a 750ml bottle. Spanish Oak will be available in select markets in the United States beginning Spring 2023.

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