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“Nano-batch” Bourbons from Buffalo Trace Distillers: 1,500 Different Barrels, 1,500 Different Bottlings

New developments in the world of artisanal spirits taken to a new level of absurdity

One of our more exotic Bourbon producers, Buffalo Trace began a series of experiments in Bourbon dating back to 1987. The distillers experimented with variations in the type of barrel used, amount of barrel age and source of the barrels as well as varying periods of aging and “mash bills” which is the specific blend of grains used. The results are only 2 barrels of each of about 1,500 variations! There are only 300 (375ml) bottles from each batch! We are honored to receive our first allocation of (so far) 2 bottles of one of these variations.  “We continue to learn new and interesting information from these experiments. We never know how they are going to turn out,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “It’s also great to see the excitement that surrounds these releases. The customer feedback is great.” Below are some of the releases since 2006.

Releases by Year

2011
Rice Bourbon Whiskey: These barrels were filled on April 30, 2002, and aged on the 7th floor of Warehouse I for 9 years and 5 months. Corn, malt and rice are the ingredients used in the recipe, resulting in a very clean aroma with the barrel notes of caramel and spice. A crisp flavor on the tongue is noticed, without any heaviness or oiliness whatsoever. A slight dryness near the end provides a quick finish. It is a very delicate whiskey.

Oat Bourbon Whiskey: These barrels have the same fill date, aging location and aging time as the Rice Bourbon. Corn, malt and oats are the ingredients used in this recipe, resulting in a pleasantly smoky nose with a rich aroma of toasted oats that offers a nice complexity. On the palette, the smokiness intrigues as hints of dried fig and stone fruit come through, and eventually give way to an earthy finish.

1989 Barrels, Rediscovered: These seven barrels were filled on Nov. 17, 1989. The still proof and entry proof are unknown. After more than 21 years of aging, the wood is very prominent, but it still doesn’t conquer the rich vanilla and caramel flavors that bring to mind handmade holiday candy.

1991 Barrels, Rediscovered: These 8 barrels were filled on Oct. 29, 1991 and the still proof and entry proof are unknown. After a little more than 19 years, the warm and spicy aroma of this bourbon is overtaken by a robust black walnut character on the palette that finishes as thick candied fruits. The flavor lasts an eternity.

1993 Barrels, Rediscovered: These 8 barrels were filled on May 13, 1993 and like the other two offerings in this collection, the still proof and entry proof are unknown. After 17 years and 7 months in the barrel, this bourbon has a nice rich and creamy texture, like a whiskey latte with extra foam and a shot of vanilla. A great sipper for long cold nights.

2010
1995 French Oak Barrel Aged: This barrel was filled on April 7, 1995 and bottled July 21, 2010. Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. After more than 15 years and 3 months of aging, the new toasted French Oak barrel added rich complexity and interesting flavors to this whiskey. The result is a leathery and woody whiskey that has a good depth with a dark, dry finish.

1995 American Oak Chips Seasoned: This barrel was filled on April 7, 1995 with Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash Bill #2 and toasted oak chips were added. After more than 15 years and 4 months of aging, this whiskey was bottled on August 5, 2010. The whiskey in this charred American White Oak barrel derived a smoky complexity from the toasted oak chip seasoning. It is a lighter whiskey for its age and has a good flavor without being heavy.

2009
FINE GRAIN OAK: These barrels were filled July 13, 1994 and bottled May 7, 2009. Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. After more than 14 years of aging, the slow-growth of fine grain wood concentrated the sugars and imparted extra doses of caramel and vanilla. The bourbon is rich and exceedingly sweet with an almost syrupy character. It also has a nice balance of flavors and complexity.

COARSE GRAIN OAK: The filling and aging time on these barrels is the same as with the fine grain. After nearly 15 years in the barrel, this whiskey is dry with a balance of smokiness and wood with herbal qualities. The finish is quick and woody and it is slightly heavy with a powerful complexity.

1993 Double Barreled: These barrels were filled April 4, 1993 and bottled September 15, 2009. Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. The bourbon was removed from its original barrel and re-barreled December 12, 2001. At 16 years and five months of age the finished product has a deep, rich flavor that fully expresses the oak character. The re-barreling has taken it far beyond its 16 years. It has a very strong, powerful finish.

1997 Double Barreled: These barrels were filled November 18, 1997 and bottled September 16, 2009. Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. The bourbon was removed from its original barrel and re-barreled December 12, 2001. At 11 years and ten months of age the finished product has a complex barrel flavor. It possesses a deep caramel color making it pleasing to the eye as well as the palette. It has a very robust start and finishes smooth.

2008
CABERNET FRANC AGED AFTER SIX YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for six years and three months in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used French Oak Cabernet Franc barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 14 years old. Earthy tannins of Cabernet mingle well with the bourbon undertones.

CABERNET FRANC AGED AFTER EIGHT YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for eight years and one month in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used French Oak Cabernet Franc barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 16 years old. The taste combines an amazing balance of heavy wine and bourbon character.

17 year-old Rum Marriage: This consists of two 17 year-old barrels of Rum. One barrel was new and one used. Both barrels were aged on the second floor of Warehouse I in charred oak barrels. The new and used barrel samples developed their own character over the years but neither was inspiring—that all changes when the two barrels came together. The rum aged in new wood offers oak sweetness and rich caramels, while the used barrel aged rum packs intense tannins and heavier rum flavors. The marriage is very balanced.

2007
CHARDONNAY AGED AFTER SIX YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon that was aged for six years and three months in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used French oak Chardonnay barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 14 years old. The taste combines the fruitiness from the Chardonnay barrel with smoky vanilla taste of the whiskey.

CHARDONNAY AGED AFTER TEN YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for ten years and six months in a new oak barrel. Then it was then re-barreled in a used French oak Chardonnay barrel for another 8 years. Aged a total of 18 years this whiskey boasts more oak at the start, but finishes with the fruitiness of the wine influence.

ZINFANDEL AGED AFTER SIX YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon that was aged for six years and three months in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used American Oak Zinfandel barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 14 years old. The expected wine fruitiness is absent in the initial palette, but is replaced with an exciting spiciness. It is not the rye-grain spice normally associated with bourbon, but a grape-vine herbal quality that slides across the tongue and lingers for what seems like forever. This is an epic whiskey with grandeur and grace. Old world quaffing of a vine and field mélange.

ZINFANDEL AGED AFTER TEN YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for ten years and four months in a new oak barrel. Then it was then re-barreled in a used American Oak Zinfandel barrel for another 8 years. Aged a total of 18 years this whiskey carries little subtlety. The original whiskey brings powerful flavors to the refinement of the zinfandel wine barrel. The battle of flavor is won rather than shared by the bourbon. The zinfandel does dance along the edges with its dry herbal flavorings, but the bourbon fills the ballroom with its grain and wood bouquet.

2006
FRENCH OAK: This bourbon was aged ten years in a French Oak barrel in which the staves were first air-dried for 24 months. The French Oak has given the whiskey a sugary sweetness and dark caramel color.

TWICE BARRELED: After aging this bourbon for eight years and eight months, this whiskey was put into a brand new barrel. With twice the wood, this whiskey has lots of oak and has a long warm finish.

FIRE POT BARREL: This barrel was heated to 102°F for 23 minutes to dry the wood prior to filling. The whiskey has a smoky nose, and hints of fruit and tobacco on the pallet.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Eric Robert Santiago June 12, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Rich, is the Rice Bourbon whiskey good for people on a gluten free diet?
Richard Mora June 12, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Eric, its bourbon meant to be sipped straight, you don't drink it because it is good for you, you drink it because it tastes good and makes you feel good. Kidding aside, I've heard people on low gluten diets avoiding spirits made with wheat, including vodka, however I can't image the gluten proteins surviving the distilation process, especially vodka which is run at a higher temperature usually several times and also often extensively filtered. Anyway don't bet the farm but I wouldn't stay away from Scotch because it comes from barley or drink only potato vodka

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