Buffalo Trace Distillery has been experimenting with their whiskey recipes and barrel treatments for over two decades. These small batch experiments first started back in 2006, and currently Buffalo Trace has a rumored 22,000 plus experimental barrels aging in their rickhouses. According to Buffalo Trace, each experiment they are testing “has unique characteristics that differentiate them in distinct ways. Some examples of experiments include unique mash bills, types of wood, and different barrel toasts. Buffalo Trace also has an experimental warehouse, Warehouse X, which is designed to explore the extent of environmental influences on the flavor profiles of whiskey.” This latest announcement will be the 23rd experimental collection released since its initiation.
The most current release from the Experimental Collection will be a 12 Year Old Wheated Bourbon. This bourbon will be from the same mash bill as it’s wheated predecessors, including the Weller line and Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. This may seem strange to many of you as there is already a 12 year wheater coming out of Frankfort, Kentucky, in the form of Weller 12 Year Bourbon. The newest addition of the Experimental Collection has some pretty drastic differences from the standard 12 year, both in how it is aged and when water is added to the barrel. On December 10, 2007, this bourbon entered the barrel at 114 proof, and was laid to rest in Warehouse C for aging. Four years later, the barrel was pulled, and water was added to the bourbon to lower the proof down to 100. That same barrel was then placed back into the same rick house and same location to age for another eight years.
Clearly Buffalo Trace feels that when, and how much water is added to the barrel can make a major difference in both the aging process and the overall flavor profile. According to Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, “We’ve always known water was a necessary component in making whiskey. This experiment helped us to understand how important a role water actually plays in whiskey production. The result of this experiment led us to a bourbon that is actually one of my favorite experiments.”
Experimental Collection labels always contain extra pertinent information regarding specifics about the release