Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Review – Infrared Light

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace

In what may be it’s most science fiction-like experiment yet, Buffalo Trace Distillery’s newest addition to their Experiment Collection sees the company using infrared light waves.  Just before the eight barrels used were charred, they were exposed to infrared light.  The press release explains the process:

Working with barrel cooper Independent Stave Company in 2009, eight special barrels were constructed. All eight first underwent the same process as standard Buffalo Trace barrels, staves were open air seasoned for six months before being made into barrels.

Then, the barrels were divided into two groups and subjected to two different levels of infrared light waves.  The first group of four barrels underwent 15 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 70% power.  The second group of four barrels was subjected to 30 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 60% power. The barrels were then given a quick #1 (or 15 seconds) char, before finally being filled with Buffalo Trace’s Bourbon Mash #1.

The whiskey matured for six and a half years in those barrels and then were bottled at 90 proof.  Keeping in line with the rest of the Experimental Collection, both the 15 minute and 30 minute are available separately in 375ml bottles for about $46.


The nose here carries lots of butterscotch, vanilla and sweet oak.  It’s one of the lighter noses I’ve encountered in a Buffalo Trace bourbon.  After a few moments in the glass, some red fruit aromas develop.  Taste-wise, oak is a tad more prevalent than the nose suggests.  The mouthfeel is on the thin side.  Lots of vanilla and oak spice prevail over the sweet traditional bourbon caramel.  The finish is full of vanilla ice cream and a touch of nutmeg.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  It’s a young, solid bourbon that has some characteristics of older whiskey.  But, nothing special here.


There’s a lot more oak here compared to the 15 minute experiment.  This bed of toasted oak provides a foundation, followed by maraschino cherries, vanilla extract, dark caramel, and light floral notes.  The entry here is an initial hit of cinnamon spice, followed by tons of oak.  It’s mouth drying from the start.  Sweetness is provided by caramel candy and maple syrup.  With so much oak in the nose and palate, it comes as no surprise that the finish is short and dry.  Not a fan of this one.  Where things mostly came together for the 15 minute infrared experiment, this one is an oaky bust.

While I am always thoroughly curious with Buffalo Trace Distillery’s experiments, I don’t always love them.  This is one of those rare times.   These aren’t rot-gut bourbons by any means.  They are just okay, and that in itself is acceptable given the circumstances of experimentation.  Not all experimental whiskies are going to be phenomenal.  It’s just the nature of the game.

(Note:  A review sample was provided by the company behind these whiskies free of charge.  The opinions written are my own.)

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection – 13 Year-Old Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon Review

The latest Experimental Collection release from Buffalo Trace Distillery involves the sour mash process.  Just about all bourbon is made using sour mash.  Basically, once the mash is cooked, some setback (previously distilled mash) is quickly added to “sour” the mash before yeast is added for fermentation.  It helps control PH levels during fermentation, which affects the final flavor of the whiskey.  It also helps achieve consistency between batches.

What Buffalo Trace has done here is slightly different.  According to their press release, the mash was “cooked and cooled to standard; however, the similarities stop there. The mash was allowed “to sour” before yeast was added to start the fermentation process, a method long abandoned due to its more laborious process.”

These particular whiskies were distilled in 2002 and entered barrels at two different entry proofs – 105 and 125.  They were aged for 13 years on the seventh floor of Warehouse I.  Barrel entry proof also affects how the final bourbon turns out.

105 Entry Proof

The lighter nose of the two, the 105 Entry proof carries a large vanilla note.  I also get light caramel and cherries.  All the aromas here seem to be separated and easily picked out.  The official tasting notes mention vanilla and fruit for the palate.  That fruit to me is cherry.  Those two notes really dominate the palate.  There’s a hint of oak and little brown sugar.  The finish turns a bit dry.

125 Entry Proof

The nose here is a bit more traditional – caramel, vanilla, spice, and oak.  A caramelized cherry note is also present.  The aromas here seem more compact or concentrated compared to the 105 Entry Proof expression.  There is a bit more body here, maybe even oilier.  Oak spiciness shines here, along with fruit and light burnt sugar.  The finish isn’t as dry as in the 105, and comes across as sweet.

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection releases are always interesting, and this Sour Mash experiment is no different.  The fun comes in comparing and contrasting the two sibling releases.  Both are superb whiskies, and I recommend picking both up to experience how different entry proofs will yield different whiskies.

(Note:  A review sample was provided by Buffalo Trace Distillery.)

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection – French Oak Review

French Oak Experiment 2015

This latest Experimental Collection release from Buffalo Trace Distillery plays around with French oak.  This should be interesting as just about all bourbon whiskey is aged in American Oak barrels.  Ten years ago, Buffalo Trace made two different barrels types:  one made entirely of French Oak, and one made with American oak staves and French oak heads.  These barrels were filled with their mash bill #1 whiskey and aged 10 years.  (Note:  I received a small review sample from Buffalo Trace.)