On July 5, 2017, at a yet-to-be-named distillery in Newport, Tennessee, Sazerac launched a new chapter in the history of this storied company. Master Distiller John Lunn and Distiller Allisa Henley filled the distillery’s first barrels with new-make Tennessee Whiskey.
Nobody’s going to be drinking this whiskey for years. (How long has yet to be decided.) And it doesn’t even have a name yet. But given the Sazerac company’s reputation for excellence, we can expect that good things will happen.
I don’t usually run press releases on here unless I’m feeling especially lazy. But this latest one from Maker’s Mark caught my eye. I figured, if it interests me, it might interest you as well.
Maker’s Mark will start selling a cask-strength — that is, an uncut and unfiltered version — version of their bourbon to people who visit their distillery. I imagine that this will appeal to a lot of whiskey drinkers who otherwise shun Maker’s Mark.
Now, if only I were going to Loretto, Kentucky, I could try some!
As you know, we love company. Maybe it’s because the Marion County countryside around our distillery is so peaceful. (A little too peaceful, if you know what we mean.) Or maybe it’s because our distillery is so out of the way, we’re thrilled when people make the effort to find us.
Whatever the reason, we invite you to stop in. We’ll be happy to give you an up-close-and-personal look at our distillery, our handmade whisky and the dream that led to both.
If you’re able to pay us a visit, we invite you to taste a bit of Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength™ to see how this uncut and unfiltered version compares to the original while experiencing the kaleidoscope of shapes and colors of The Spirit of the Maker – our installation by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The countless handblown glass pieces include deep browns and vibrant ambers emblematic of our bourbon, crystal blues that reflect the water from the distillery’s spring-fed lake and rich reds illustrative of the signature red wax that tops each handmade bottle.
I have to say, it’s the perfect backdrop for sipping the amplified flavors of Cask Strength. Cask Strength will be available for tasting as part of the tour experience and for purchase in the gift shop beginning Monday, September 1.
We hope to raise a glass of it with you here soon!
Awards should always be taken with a grain of salt. Is the film that wins the Academy Award really the best picture of the year? Was Shakespeare in Love really better than Saving Private Ryan?
Although the most prestigious awards do lend some measure of objective credibility to the winners, ultimately it's still a subjective process. This is especially true when the decision makers (aka "the voters") are limited in number. And when the decider is just one person…Well, you'd better hope that his preferences are the same as yours.
That being said, awards can still be interesting and informative. Awards give us something to think, talk, and argue about. They can give us inspiration to seek out the winners, even if it's only to see if we agree or not. Awards give us a starting point to begin our investigation and discussion.
Just because something wins an award that doesn't mean it's the best. But if it's a reputable award, it does give us some indication that the subject in question is worthy of merit.
So, without further ado, the envelope, please!
Buffalo Trace Distillery has made history in the whiskey industry with not one, but two Whiskey of the Year Awards from esteemed whiskey reviewer Jim Murray. In the newly published 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye was named “2013 World Whiskey of the Year” and the William Larue Weller was named “Second Finest Whiskey in the World.”
The coveted number one and two spots were the result of Jim Murray tasting over 4,500 whiskies, in route to publishing his annual Whisky Bible. It is the first time in the book’s ten year history that both the number one and two whiskies in the world have come from the United States, much less the same distillery.
About the Thomas H. Handy, Murray says, “This is enormous….Once off the ground it just doesn’t stop traveling. Superb!” A 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
The praise doesn’t stop there; for the second place William Larue Weller, Murray says, “WOW! This is becoming a must experience whiskey for hardcore bourbon lovers. Well, whisk(e)y lovers period, really! Majestic! Or, as it’s American, perhaps I should say: Presidential.” Also a 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
In regards to deciding between the first and second place, with both whiskies earning the same score, Murray says, “This was a very tough call to make on which of the two deserved top billing. Although from the same distillery they are very different animals. The enormity of the Weller was so apparent…I knew from the very first taste that it stood every chance of being World Whisky of the Year.
“But it was eclipsed by the Thomas Handy Rye, even though they both scored the same number of points. The Rye edged it, by the smallest of fractions, simply because of its extraordinary life and balance on the palate and its uncanny ability to just keep working on full alert for the longest imaginable time. It took a couple of days to decide between the two, but the Handy could not be denied.”
In addition to the number one and number two finest whiskies in the world, Buffalo Trace Distillery also earned an astounding 35 additional awards from Jim Murray, including Bourbon of the Year for its William Larue Weller; Rye of the Year for its Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye; Rye 11 Years or Older for its Sazerac 18 Years Old, and a host of Liquid Gold Awards, which are given only to those whiskies which score a “94” or higher, which is considered, “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live,” according to Jim Murray.
Amongst those whiskies from Buffalo Trace Distillery that received Liquid Gold Awards were George T. Stagg; Buffalo Trace Bourbon; Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Years Old; Old Weller Antique 107 and Single Oak Project Barrels 63, 14, 132, 33, 61, 164, 191, 81 and 167.
“We were blown away when we heard the results from Jim,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller, “To have one ‘Best Whiskey in the World’ is wonderful. To have the number one and the number two spots is just amazing; we’re very proud of our team here at Buffalo Trace.”
The 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible can be purchased at the Buffalo Trace Distillery gift shop, among other places, or online at www.whiskybible.com.
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.
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.
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.