Wheated Bourbon

Col. E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood Bourbon Review

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Buffalo Trace Distillery just announced the eighth addition to the Col. E.H. Taylor line – Seasoned Wood.  Just like its brethren, Seasoned Wood is bottled-in-bond, which means it’s bottled at 100 proof and is at least four years old (among other things).  According to press materials, this release is “aged well over a decade”.  This the first wheated bourbon in the Taylor lineup.  Seasoned Wood is a one-time, limited release.

What is seasoned wood exactly?  According to Buffalo Trace:

The barrels in this release underwent a variety of special seasoning processes,   including barrels made from staves that were immersed in an enzyme rich bath with water heated to 100 degrees.  After spending time in this proprietary solution, these staves were then placed into kilns and dried until they reached an ideal humidity level for crafting into barrels.  Other staves were seasoned outdoors for six months, and still others were left outdoors for a full 12 months before being made into barrels and sent to Buffalo Trace Distillery to be filled and aged.  All barrel staves were seasoned, dried, and crafted at Independent Stave Company, who consulted on this project with the premiere expert on oak maturation, Dr. James Swan.

Onto my tasting notes:

The aromatic nose leads with a strong honey note.  Dried cherries, fresh orange peel, and a floral note follow.  In an odd way, it sort of smells like an Old Fashioned cocktail.  There is little to no alcohol vapor to speak of, considering this is a 100 proof bourbon.  The entry is soft, with spiced honey starting things off.  That citrus note and dried fruit from the nose also finds its way to the palate, cutting right through the creamy mouthfeel.  Some oak is present providing a touch of astringency in the back-palate.  The finish is long and warm, leaving citrus, baking spice and honey behind to slowly fade away.  It leaves your mouth watering for more.

You can guess I’m a fan of this one.  Seasoned Wood is a very welcome addition to the good-to-excellent range of Col. E.H. Taylor whiskies.  It’s overall softer but richer profile stands out among others in the lineup.  This is a very well executed bourbon from Buffalo Trace that receives a high recommendation.  Seasoned Wood will be available starting late March for a suggested retail priced of $69.99.  The fact that it is limited won’t help your chances of finding a bottle.  In the rare instance you do see one, pick it up.

9/10
(Note: A small review sample was provided by Buffalo Trace.)

Heaven Hill Select Stock Review

Heaven Hill Select Stock

When I last visited Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center, I made sure to pick up a bottle of something for myself.  It came down to two bourbons: Heaven Hill Select Stock and William Heavenhill 11 year old Bottled-In-Bond.  I sampled both just minutes prior to my purchase and decided to go with the more experimental of the two: Heaven Hill Select Stock, available only at their Bourbon Heritage Center.  This is a barrel-proof (124.4 proof), single barrel, 8 year old wheated bourbon that’s finished in cognac casks for 32 months.

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Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection – Warehouse Floors Experiment Review

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Buffalo Trace’s latest release in their Experimental Collection looks at the aging process using their wheat bourbon mash bill.  It’s the same mash bill as W.L. Weller and the Van Winkle bourbons.  From their press release:

The Warehouse Floors Experiment was started in 2001, when Buffalo Trace filled 15 barrels with their Wheat Bourbon Mash Bill and placed five barrels on floors one, five, and nine of Warehouse K. This brick warehouse has nine wooden floors in total and was chosen for this experiment due to the variety of tastes it provides during the aging process.

Buffalo Trace Distillery sent me a sample of each.  Here’s how the three bourbons panned out:

FIRST FLOOR

nose:  soft caramel,  slight fruit (maraschino cherries),  surprisingly very little oak

palate:  toffee, caramel, butterscotch, a little fruit

finish:  short & sugary sweet

FIFTH FLOOR

nose:  slight oak,  caramel.

palate:  soft entry followed by caramel, cinnamon, slight oak

finish:  nice and balanced.  Not as sweet as the first floor…  almost bittersweet.  Slightly drier and a tad spicier.  Very nice.

NINTH FLOOR

nose:  sweet oak, caramel, vanilla, smells a bit more robust

palate:  a lot of oak,  sweet (caramel) and a little nutty

finish: dry and spicy

The first floor was not a spicy whiskey.  It was a nice combo of butterscotch, caramel, and fruit.  The fifth floor introduced oak.  It makes a cameo, but wasn’t the star of the show.  It was also slightly spicier than the first floor.  The ninth floor is an oakier and drier whiskey.  The sweetness and oak went back and forth and never really meshed for me.

Also of note is the evaporation differences between the floors, especially compared to a similar earlier experiment using their rye bourbon mash bill.  According to Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, “we noticed a higher evaporation rate on the wheat recipe experiment vs the rye bourbon recipe experiment.  The wheat evaporated between 42-51% over the twelve years, depending on what floor the barrel was aged.  The rye experiment evaporated between 25-49% over the twelve years, with significantly less on the lower floors.  This higher evaporation rate is expected in wheated recipes, but it’s interesting to see it up close with the rye experiment.”

As always, the Experimental Collection is a limited, one-time release.  A 375ml bottle will run you about $46.  This is a great examination of the influence the aging location of a bourbon has on its final flavor. These barrels filled with the exact same distillate sat feet apart from each other and end up as completely different whiskies.  I’d suggest you pick up a bottle of each to taste the differences for yourself, which is what I think is the heart of this release.  However, if you’re in the market for one bottle, I’d stick with the fifth floor.  Highly recommended.

9/10