Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Van Winkle Bourbon Available Soon

This is great news for bourbon fans — the Van Winkles are back! Sadly, these are going to be very hard to find. (And if you do find any, it's going to be more expensive than the prices quoted below.) But there's a reason these are the most-hyped bourbons in the world. Whether or not they're worth the effort is something only you can decide. They are almost universally accalimed, though.

Van_winkleFinally, the wait is nearly over! Van Winkle bourbons will be back on shelves in late October.  The popularity of Van Winkle whiskeys remains unmatched, but still in short supply. Known for their smoother and sweeter flavor, Van Winkle bourbons are aged years longer than most others and garner an impeccable reputation among connoisseurs.  “When bourbon ages over 15 years, much is lost to the angel’s share.  Many barrels often yield less than 20 gallons, out of the original 53 gallons produced,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “However, our patience creates bourbon with unrivalled flavor.”

Although Van Winkle bourbons have become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, less is sent overseas than ever to allow more of this coveted bourbon to remain in the United States.  “Because demand has escalated so much here, we’ve decided to scale back exports to help supply our American fan base,” continued Van Winkle.

Furthermore, there will be more Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old Bourbon at 107 proof. “We prefer the taste of our 10 year old bourbon at 107 proof. The rich flavor is compounded by the high proof,” added Van Winkle. “We’ll no longer bottle our 10 year old whiskey at 90 proof. Therefore, there will be more 107 proof available. For those who will miss the 90 proof Old Rip, we suggest adding a little more water to their glass. As Pappy used to say, ‘why ship all that water across the country!’”

The Van Winkle collection consists of several expressions. Suggested retail prices are as follows:

  • $39.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
  • $54.99 – Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old
  • $69.99 – Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey 13 Year Old
  • $79.99 - Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
  • $129.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
  • $249.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old

The Van Winkle line of whiskeys has won a bevy of awards through the years, including 2010 “Spirit of the Year” from Wine and Spirits Magazine for Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old; “Best of Show” and “Best Whiskey” at the 2010 Los Angeles Wine and Spirits Competition; Gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; Best of Category, Small Batch Bourbon 11 Years or Older, 2012 Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition; and 2012 Chairman’s Trophy Finalist: Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available near the end of October, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars and restaurants. They will be packed three bottles per case, rather than traditional 12 bottle cases.

Categories
Spirits Reviews Taste Test Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Taste Test: Bourbons from $25 to $50

We conducted the second round of our bourbon taste test last weekend. The whiskeys this time all had a suggested retail price of between $25 and $50. (Our first Bourbon Taste Test featured bourbons under $25.) As was the case last time, some of the samples were provided by the distilleries and some were from my own cabinet.

The whiskeys were all tasted blind, so the participants didn't know which bourbon they were drinking. (I poured the glasses, so I had a vague idea of which order a couple of them were in, but I was very close to unaware.)

We tasted eight whiskeys, all Kentucky straight bourbons, ranging in proof from 80 to 120. The prices ranged from $29 to $40. The whiskeys were all drunk neat. With the exception of one, all of them were better than average, and the overall quality was higher than in the first tasting.

You can see the line-up in the photo below.

Bourbons
The bourbons were split into two groups of four, with a short break in between the two groups. Each whiskey was tasted in a 1/2 ounce serving, and then notes were made. We discussed each of the bourbons as we drank, and then discussed them all together once we were finished.

Here they are in the order tasted, with the grades we gave them and selected notes. The grades are based on quality alone, without regard to price.

Basil Hayden's 8 Year-Old
Price: $37
80 Proof
Final Grade: B-
The "sweet smell of vanilla" and toffee isn't matched by the flavor, which is "oaky" and rather plain. Starts off "sharp," but "fades quickly." It has some complexity and some spicy notes, but more would have been welcome. A decent bourbon, but nobody's favorite.

Jefferson's 8 Year-Old Very Small Batch
Price: $30
83 Proof
Final Grade: B-
A faint "slightly fruity" aroma leads to a smooth taste that "uncurls in your mouth." The flavor ends up woody and oily, more reminiscent of Scotch than bourbon. Better than average, but a little too one-note.

Four Roses Small Batch
Price: $29
90 Proof
Final Grade: C
A strong, "antiseptic" smell is followed by a dry, "bitter" flavor. More wood taste than anyone on the panel cared for. Complex and "assertive," but too rancio-like for our tastes. [This was a disappointment, as I've drunk this bourbon in cocktails before and enjoyed it. I suppose it's possible we got a bad bottle this time.]

Eagle Rare 10-Year Old Single Barrel
Price: $30
90 Proof
Final Grade: A-
Now we're talking! A delicious aroma of toffee leads to a sweet and spicy flavor. It's "nutty" and "warm" with a sensuous finish. A near-perfect balance of sweet and spice. This was the stand-out of the first round of four. A delicious bourbon. I could drink this every day.

Elijah Craig 18-Year Old Single Barrel
Price: $36
90 Proof
Final Grade: A
Wow! Eighteen years in the barrel have worked magic on this whiskey. It begins with a fruity, spicy smell and then gets even better on the tongue. The flavor is a mix of sweet caramel and vanilla, with enough oak — but not too much — to give it complexity. It closes with a finish that is warm and succulent. This bourbon is so good it's practically decadent.


Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select

Price: $33
90.4 Proof
Final Grade: B+
Opens up to a gorgeous, sweet, "fruity" aroma — this is a wonderful smelling bourbon. The taste is "oaky" and "nutty," well rounded and dry rather than sweet. It starts off smooth, but then kicks in with a long, spicy finish. A very interesting bourbon. Definitely worth exploring further.

Baker's 7 Year-Old
Price: $37
107 Proof
Final Grade: B+
"Earthy" and "nutty" (peanut brittle and toffee?) on the nose. The taste is likewise nutty and spicy, with enough heat to make you wake up and pay attention. There's some vanilla sweetness in there, but mostly dry overall. A complex, distinctive bourbon that demands to be sampled again.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
Price: $40
120 Proof
Final Grade: B
Whoa! This is powerful stuff. A sweet, "candied" smell paves the way for a sweet and "bold" taste. (Did I mention this is strong?) It "dances around your mouth" with flavors of grain and fruit, and has a robust, spicy finish. [Editor's note: If I were to taste this again, I would dilute it so that more of the flavor would be revealed. I think it would score higher than.]

The Four Roses Small Batch didn't find favor with the panel, but all of the rest of the bourbons were greeted with open arms. The two that ranked the highest — Elijah Craig 18 Year-Old and Eagle Rare 10 Year-Old — were superb. But the bourbons that scored just under those were likewise outstanding.

This collection of whiskeys shows more than anything else how skilled and sophisticated the experts at the country's major bourbon distilleries are. Their mastery of crafting fine spirits is nothing short of outstanding. Bravo!

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2012 Antique Collection

These bourbons receive almost universal acclaim each year. I haven't yet tried any, but I hope to change that soon.

At long last, Buffalo Trace Distillery
is releasing its 2012 Antique Collection in September. The much
anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release
whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what ardent
fans can expect:

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Gold Medal at
the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2012 edition
was distilled in the spring of 1993 and has been aging on the 2nd,
3rd and 6th floors of Warehouses I and K.  After
nearly two decades of aging under its belt, it has been described as
dry and delicate, with hints of leather, almonds and tobacco.

George T. Stagg

The 2011 release of this perennial favorite was named the “Number
One Spirit in the World” by F. Paul Pacult in the 2012 Spirit
Journal 
for the second year in a row, as well as the
“Second Finest Whiskey in the World” in Jim Murray’s
Whisky Bible
.  The 2012 George T. Stagg was found in
Warehouses H, I, K and L. This uncut, unfiltered bourbon was
distilled back in the spring of 1995 and weighs in at 142.8
proof—some strong stuff! This whiskey tastes of rich dark
chocolate, coffee and vanilla.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year’s release won a double gold medal at the San Francisco
World Spirits Competition.  This 2012 rye whiskey release was
aged in Warehouses K and is described as intense spice with
underlying sweetness and dry finish.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is an uncut and unfiltered straight rye
whiskey. The 2011 edition was once again named “Rye Whiskey of the
Year” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2006, aged on the
fifth floor of Warehouse O and weighs in at 132.4 proof. The flavor
has been described as cinnamon, dark fruit, allspice, lingering. 

William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller is the Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered,
wheated recipe bourbon. The previous edition was the recipient of a
double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 
The 2012 offering was distilled in the spring of 2000 and aged on the
second and fourth floors of Warehouses I and P. This William Larue
Weller release registers in at 130 proof.  It tastes of dark
vanilla, almond and plum. 

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has
become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these
whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications
as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal and Jim
Murray’s Whisky Bible
.

“Every year the excitement and anticipation of these whiskeys
grows,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “We’re excited
as well to finally be able to share them, and look forward to seeing
what critics and consumers alike think about them.” 

These Antique Collection whiskeys will
be available in limited quantities starting in late September. 
Suggested retail price is $70 each.

Antique_collection

Categories
Whiskey

Size Matters – At Least When It Comes to Whiskey

One of the reasons that the spirits world is so fascinating today is because of all the experimentation that is going on. There are so many different distilleries, large and small, doing so many different things that the sky's the limit when it comes to the possibilities for new products, techniques and innovations.

Case in point: the excellent work being by Buffalo Trace Distillery. I've mentioned their fascinating Single Oak Project a couple of times, and although I haven't yet had the opportunity to taste any of their offerings, they've been getting rave reviews. (I just read F. Paul Pacult's thoughts on the subject last night.) But not all of their experiments produce positive results, as the company recently announced:

Using 5, 10, and 15 gallon barrels, the company filled each small barrel with the same mash bill (Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash #1) around the same time, and aged them side by side in a  warehouse for six years.

The results were less than stellar.  Even though the barrels did age quickly, and picked up the deep color and smokiness from the char and wood, each bourbon yielded less wood sugars than typical from a 53 gallon barrel, resulting in no depth of flavor.

“As expected, the smaller 5 gallon barrel aged bourbon faster than the 15 gallon version. However, it’s as if they all bypassed a step in the aging process and just never gained that depth of flavor that we expect from our bourbons.  Even though these small barrels did not meet our expectations, we feel it’s important to explore and understand the differences between the use of various barrel sizes,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley.

Each of the three small barrel bourbons were tasted annually to check on their maturation progress, then left alone to continue aging, hoping the taste would get better with time.  Finally, after six years, the team at Buffalo Trace concluded the barrels were not going to taste any better and decided to chalk up the experiment to a lesson learned. 

Barrels

Interesting information — and controversial as well. Apparently some people, especially those involved with the smaller whiskey distilleries, took this announcement as a insult. Briefly, the craft whiskey distilleries often age their whiskey in small barrels, thus accelerating the process and allowing them to bring their product to market faster. They felt that BT was making a blanket condemnation of their methods (and their whiskey).

I'm going to take Buffalo Trace's statement at face value and not speculate on their motives. Because ultimately I think what they're saying is likely true, and therefore it's valuable information. Based on their experiments, they concluded that making traditional bourbon whiskey in small barrels doesn't work.

That's not to say that good whiskey can't be made in different ways. But this particular one apparently didn't work. If that's a challenge to small producers, I think it's more because of the results, rather than the announcement. And if craft distilleries are able to make tasty bourbon in small barrels, then the proof will be in their product.

As I stated at the outset, part of the beauty of today's spirits business is that different people are trying different things. And that's good. Ultimately, the consumer benefits, and good drinks are had.

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr. Rye Recipe Whiskey

Exciting news about a promising new rye whiskey.

E. H. Taylor ryeStraight Rye Whiskey has experienced a strong resurgence in the American whiskey landscape, yet Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. was making this style over 100 years ago. The latest offering from Buffalo Trace Distillery pays tribute to the former Distillery owner with a small batch, Bottled-In-Bond, 100 proof, straight rye whiskey from days long past.

An altogether different recipe and profile than Sazerac Rye, this recipe contains just rye and malted barley, no corn.  The result is an aroma full of dried fruit, black pepper, and touch of fresh dill. A small sip brings an array of flavors both sweet and savory with a terrific balance of dark spices and subtle caramel overtones. The finish is especially pleasing with an oaky dryness that lingers just long enough.

The Straight Rye Whiskey is the fifth in the line of the E. H. Taylor, Jr. collection of whiskeys. It joins the Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon and Barrel Proof Bourbon that have all been released since early 2011.  Like the previous four releases, this whiskey will have very limited availability and will be packaged in a vintage label and canister reminiscent of Taylor’s bottles over one hundred years ago.

Taylor is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased the distillery that is known today as the Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today by Buffalo Trace, such as climate controlled aging warehouses. In addition to his bourbon interests, Taylor had political ties. He was the great-nephew of President Zachary Taylor and elected the mayor of Frankfort, state representative to the Kentucky General Assembly and a member of the State Senate.

The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey will be available in late August and will be released annually each year.  The suggested retail price is $69.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Categories
Spirits Reviews Taste Test Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Taste Test: Bourbons Under $25

We had three friends over last weekend to taste some bourbons. For this first group, the theme was "bourbons under $25." A few of the bottles were submitted by the distilleries, and the rest were from my own cabinet.

We conducted the tasting blind, so the participants didn't know which bourbon they were drinking. (I poured the glasses, so I had a vague idea of which order they were in, but I wasn't sure exactly which was which when we were tasting them.)

The results were surprising in some cases, and expected in others. All of the bourbons were judged to be at least okay — even the lowest scoring spirits were still okay.

We tasted eight whiskeys, all Kentucky straight bourbons, ranging in proof from 80 to 100. The prices ranged from $12 to $25, although most of them can be had for less if you shop around. You can see the line-up in the photo below.

  Bourbons

The bourbons were split into two groups of four, with a short break in between the two groups. Each whiskey was tasted in a 1/2 ounce serving, and then notes were made. We discussed each of the bourbons as we drank, and then discussed them all together once we were finished.

Here they are, in the order tasted, with the grades we gave them, along with selected notes. The grades are based on quality alone, without regard to price.

McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8
Price: $12
80 Proof
Final Grade: B+
A pleasing vanilla aroma, followed by the taste of caramel. "Medium smooth" and "not sweet." "Middle of the road," but with a nice flavor. A very solid bourbon.

Zackariah Harris
Price: $12
80 Proof
Final Grade: B-
Slightly "bitter" and "oaky," but otherwise not a lot of flavor. A very brief finish. With slight dilution it all but disappeared.

Four Roses Yellow Label
Price: $18
80 Proof
Final Grade: B-
Divergent scores, but some found it "harsh" and without a lot of flavor. Everyone thought it smelled of vanilla, but no one could taste it. A long finish, but "not complex."

Wild Turkey 81
Price: $20
81 Proof
Final Grade: B
"Tangy" and "sour" and even "tastes like apple." Spicy and fruity with a medium finish, this was well-liked by most.

Maker's Mark
Price: $25
90 Proof
Final Grade: A-
"Complex" and with a "lot of flavor," this was the highest-scoring bourbon of the night. Several of us noted how the flavor "blossomed" on the tongue, "full of corn," with a long, enjoyable finish. Ranked #1 by three tasters, and #2 by the other.

Buffalo Trace
Price: $25
90 Proof
Final Grade: B
Sweet on the nose, but spicy on the palate. "Smooth" yet "bold," this was a crowd pleaser, but not a standout for anyone. The brief, spicy finish was noted by almost everyone.

Elijah Craig 12 Year
Price: $21
94 Proof
Final Grade: B-
A surprise last-place finish for a bourbon I've enjoyed on many occasions. A "sweet aroma" of toffee was followed by a "harsh bite" on the tongue. Warm and spicy, this one didn't earn much praise from anyone.

Old Forester Signature
Price: $20
100 Proof
Final Grade: B+
"Spicy," "fruity" flavors of corn, peach and oak combined with a smooth taste and a medium-long finish to make this one a popular choice. The strongest whiskey and the last of the night, it was our second favorite overall.

The most surprising result was Maker's Mark, which was the clear favorite of the night. A lot of people expect Maker's to be uncomplicated and even boring, but nobody felt that way. Maybe it was the extended time to open up, maybe it was that it was different from everything else — or maybe it's just damn good bourbon.

The best value choice was definitely Benchmark Old No. 8. I'd never even heard of this bourbon before, but it impressed everyone. Any bourbon you can buy on sale for under $10 that tastes this good gets the Professor Cocktail Seal of Approval.

Stay tuned for our next whiskey taste test: bourbons from $25 to $50. That should be coming next month.

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

George T. Stagg Bourbon Named Top Spirit in the World for 2nd Year in a Row

I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting George T. Stagg bourbon, but it is almost universally acclaimed as outstanding.

For the second year in row, George T. Stagg, the iconic uncut, unfiltered bourbon released annually from Buffalo Trace Distillery, has been named the number one spirit in the world by noted spirits reviewer F. Paul Pacult.

The list, compiled annually by Pacult, will be released in his June 2012 issue of The Spirit Journal. Last year, George T. Stagg was the first American Whiskey to ever be named number one in The Spirit Journal’s 13 years of tabulating. Stagg knocked off the perennial favorite Highland Park 18 Scotch Whisky for the first time ever, and this year the Stagg beat out a Northern Highlands Single Malt Scotch. 

Notes Pacult about this year’s winners, “Spirits are continually getting better and more sophisticated each year. It’s no surprise to us that three of the top five spirits in the world hail from Kentucky, which right now is one of the hotbeds of distilling prowess.”

The George T. Stagg Bourbon Whiskey is part of the Antique Collection that is released each fall from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Long considered the frontrunner of the Collection, the Stagg has collected numerous awards over the years, including the 2012 Bourbon of the Year; the 2012 Second Finest Whiskey in the World from Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible; 2012 Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; 2011 Ultimate Spirits Competition Chairman’s Trophy Winner; 2011 Double Gold Winner, Best Bourbon, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; the 2010 American Whiskey of the Year from Jim Murray’s 2010 Whiskey Bible; 2009 Bourbon of the Year and Best Bourbon Aged 13-17 Years from Jim Murray’s 2009 Whiskey Bible; among others.

The 2012 version of the George T. Stagg will be released later this fall with the Antique Collection.  Suggested retail pricing of the Stagg is $69.99.

George T. Stagg Bourbon

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof Whiskey

The latest news from Buffalo Trace Distillery, easily one of the most forward-thinking distilleries in the world. They're trying more interesting (and delicious) things with whiskey than anyone else I can think of. If you see a bottle of this, definitely pick it up.

Buffalo_trace

The latest in the Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. Bourbon Collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery is an extraordinary barrel proof, uncut, unfiltered rye recipe bourbon.

Weighing in at a hefty 134.5 proof, this small batch bourbon was aged for seven years on the sixth floor of Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C, built by Colonel Taylor in 1881.

When your experience this uncut and unfiltered Bourbon, “an aroma of cooked, berries meets the nose, followed by a rich caramel and slightly floral smell. The taste is bold – full of spice that fills the mouth with a distinct flavor of toasty vanilla, dried oak and pepper.  The finish is long and satisfying with a powerful rye character and lingering hints of fruit."

The Barrel Proof Bourbon is the fourth in the line of the E. H. Taylor, Jr. collection of whiskeys to be released over the next few years. It joins the Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon and Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon released within the past year.  Like the previous three releases, this Barrel Proof Bourbon will have very limited availability and will be packaged in a vintage label and canister reminiscent of Taylor’s bottles nearly one hundred years ago

Taylor is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased the distillery that is known today as the Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today by Buffalo Trace, such as climate controlled aging warehouses. In addition to his bourbon interests, Taylor had political ties. He was the great-nephew of President Zachary Taylor and elected the mayor of Frankfort, state representative to the Kentucky General Assembly and a member of the State Senate.

The Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon will be available in June.  Suggested retail pricing is $69.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Fifth Round of Single Oak Project Bourbon

Here's the latest news on Buffalo Trace's Single Oak Project. I wrote about the previous round of whiskeys a while back.

Buffalo_trace

One year ago Buffalo Trace Distillery unveiled its Single Oak Project and its quest for the perfect bourbon. Now as the fifth round of Single Oak Project Bourbons are released, there has been much excitement and many reviews, but still many questions to be answered.

The fifth round of experiments will focus on three variables, the recipe, rye vs. wheat; the entry proof, 105 vs. 125 proof; and wood grain size, tight, average, or coarse.  All of the other variables such as barrel stave seasoning, aging warehouse, char level, and tree cut (top or bottom) remain constant.

As with the other four releases, Buffalo Trace hopes whiskey enthusiasts can continue to rate each whiskey they taste online at www.singleoakproject.com. To date, more than 1700 accounts have been created online, and nearly 1,550 reviews have been given on the four various releases so far. 

The whiskey reviews have been tallied and the leading barrel after one year is…. a three way tie!!  Barrels #10, 106 and 184 are all tied for first place.  With all three of those barrels having different variables, it seems the only thing the three have in common is that the oak was harvested from bottom half of the tree!  The other six variables of the leading barrels vary.

“Quite a mixed bag so far,” said Kris Comstock, bourbon brand manager. “It seems the only thing people can agree on so far is that they like bourbon aged in barrels made from the bottom portion of oak trees, opposed to the top half.  Good thing we have 3 more years, 144 more barrels, and thousands more reviews to come!”

After a consumer reviews a bottle online, they will be availed of all the aging details and provenance of the barrel. They can interact with others who’ve also reviewed the barrel, compare their reviews, and even learn for themselves which characteristics they enjoy most, in order to help them select future favorites.  Participants online will earn points after each review and most importantly, help Buffalo Trace Distillery create the perfect bourbon!

The Single Oak Project is part of an intensive research project Buffalo Trace Distillery started conducting in 1999 by hand picking 96 trees with different wood grains and then dividing them into a top and bottom piece, yielding 192 unique sections. From there, staves were created from each section and were air dried for either 6 months or 12 months. After all the staves were air dried, a single barrel was created from each tree section, resulting in 192 total barrels. These barrels were given either a number three or a number four char and then filled with either wheat or rye recipe bourbon.

To further the variety of experiments, the barrels were filled at two different proofs, 105 and 125 proof.  And if this wasn’t enough, two completely different warehouses were used, one with wooden floors and one with concrete floors.  In total, seven different variables were employed in Buffalo Trace’s ultimate experiment.

For eight years the Distillery continued with its tracking process, creating intricate databases and coming up with a potential of 1,396 tasting combinations from these 192 barrels!

The Single Oak Project Bourbon is being released in a series every three months from 2011 through 2015 until all of the 192 barrels have been released. The first releases hit select stores in 2011.  This fifth release will reach stores towards the end of May. Like all the other releases, the quantities are very limited. Every case will contain 12 bottles, each from a different barrel. The fifth release is made up of barrel numbers 1, 17, 33, 49, 65, 81, 97, 113, 129, 145, 161, 177. All releases will be packaged in a 375ml bottle. Suggested retail pricing per bottle is $46.35.   

At the conclusion of the Single Oak Project, the Distillery plans to take the top rated barrel based on online consumer feedback, make more of that product and launch it under the Single Oak Project nameplate.

Single_oak

Categories
Awards Whiskey

2012 World Whisky Awards Winners

Whisky Magazine has announced the winners of the 2012 World Whisky Awards. More than 300 whiskies took part in this prestigious competition, representing a variety of different types of whiskey from around the world.

The judges were drawn from the best spirits writers and retailers across the globe, with industry representatives made up of master blenders, distillers and brand ambassadors in the final round.

Here is a selection of the winners:

World’s Best North American Whiskey

Eagle Rare 17 Years Old

Eagle Rare 17 Years Old

World’s Best Single Malt Whisky

Yamazaki 25 Years Old

Yamazaki 25 Years Old

World’s Best Whisky Liqueur

Dunkeld Atholl Brose

World’s Best Blended Whisky

Three Ships 5 Years Old

Three Ships 5 Years Old


Elmer_T_LeeAlso honored was Buffalo Trace's Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Elmer began working at the George T. Stagg (now Buffalo Trace) Distillery in Frankfort in 1949. He retired in 1985, but continues to serve as ambassador for Buffalo Trace, educating others on the unique qualities of Kentucky's bourbon whiskey.

In 1984, Elmer introduced the single-barrel bourbon concept to the world with Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon, named in honor of Col. Albert B. Blanton, another longtime veteran of the distillery.

Elmer is one of only three living master distillers who have a Bourbon whiskey named after them.

Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to Mr. Lee!