New Experimental Wheat Bourbon Coming Soon from Buffalo Trace
New Experimental Wheat Bourbon Coming Soon from Buffalo Trace

New Experimental Wheat Bourbon Coming Soon from Buffalo Trace

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

Like previous releases from the Experimental Collection, this bourbon will be sold in 375ml bottles and have an MSRP of ~$47. Each Experimental Collection label contains pertinent information unique to that particular experiment. This 12 year wheated bourbon will be bottled at 90 proof and will be available in May 2020 with limited availability. 

Tasting Notes from Harlan Wheatley include,“a nose that is sweet and floral, with notes of oak, vanilla, and a bit of leather. There’s a really smooth creamy mouthfeel here.  The taste is a pleasing balance of butterscotch, honey, and wood with a crisp finish.” 

My Two Cents: I personally would love to be able to find this and try it next to the standard Weller 12 offering to see how it compares. Any whiskey enthusiast knows that barrel entry proof can make a major difference in overall drinkability of the whiskey (ie. older Wild Turkey bourbon before they raised barrel entry proof). What most of us probably do not know is how adding water to a whiskey part way through aging will affect the outcome. I think this is a really interesting experiment, and if I was a Master Distiller, I would be trying to push the envelope with experiments like this to see just how much flavor I can get out of our whiskey. I believe that there are a lot more things coming, even just in the bourbon realm that we have never seen before. Companies are already experimenting with crazy barrel finishes and different wood types for aging. I for one am excited about the prospect of the perfect whiskey for me possibly sitting in a barrel aging right now!

What are your thoughts about the latest addition to Buffalo Trace’s Experimental Collection?

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