Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of the world's most prestigious producer of whiskeys, recently announced the fourth round of their Single Oak Project bourbon. This ongoing experiment tests how a set of different factors affects the development of whiskey.
The project started in 1999 when Buffalo Trace selected 96 oak trees, which were then crafted into 192 different barrels, each made from the same section of the same tree. Some of the barrels were thicker than others, some were aged more, and they were charred to two different levels. The distillery filled each of the barrels with either wheat or rye recipe bourbon, at one of two proofs, and aged the barrels on different floors of two separate warehouses.
In this way, they created 192 slightly different whiskeys, each with at least one factor different from all the rest. This allowed the distillery to track how the various factors affected the flavor of the resulting bourbon.
Buffalo Trace is now releasing the whiskeys in batches of four and asking consumers to vote on them. (This whiskey ain't cheap, as you'd imagine. But it's not ridiculously expensive — around $46 for a 375ml bottle.) At the end of the project, they'll select the winner and bottle it under the Single Oak Project label.
Now comes the bad news: I haven't tasted any of these bourbons! The quantities are very limited, not surprisingly, and I haven't been able to find any of them. The state-run liquor stores in Virginia carry a decent selection of bourbon, but they're not strong on the exotic stuff like this.
If anyone has tried these whiskeys, please let us know.