Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Single Oak Project

BtdBuffalo 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. Barrels

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.

The first three rounds of whiskeys were released last year, and they received some very good notices.

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.


Spirits Reviews Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Whiskey Review: Buffalo Trace Bourbon

BuffaloBuffalo Trace Bourbon
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Final Grade: A-
Price: $24 (750ml)

Reviewed by Bob Montgomery

A glance at the shelves of my local liquor store reveals that bourbon has become the Merlot of the whiskey world, charging ahead of its more stately cousins from Scotland and Ireland and showing its back to the generic Canadians on the bottom shelf. There seems to be three times as many bottles of bourbon as any other kind of whiskey, with a bewildering number of brands and ages to choose from.

Elbowing to the front to stand next to Maker’s in the center of the array is Buffalo Trace. It has a deep amber color in the bottle, and upon opening it immediately fills the room with scents of vanilla and molasses. In the glass, the vanilla is even more powerful, with perhaps a whiff of mint as well.

The initial taste impression is of sweet corn and honey, with a little fruit and mint as it develops. Despite its rye content, it didn’t seem to have any of the typical spice notes of a rye whiskey. This is a thick, rich spirit that hangs around for quite a while in the mouth. What starts as a pleasant warmth soon matures into a mild burn, but nothing too fiery. Definitely sippable, although a splash of water would not be amiss. It makes a decent Manhattan, but, for my part, once you’ve had a Manhattan with good rye, the bourbon version just doesn’t compare.

Buffalo Trace is a solid whiskey for the price, mellow enough to sip but complex enough to linger over. Fans of heavier whiskeys, in particular, should pick up a bottle. An excellent value on an American original.

Report Card

Quality Grade: B+
Value Grade: A
Final Grade: A-