Fifteen Year Old Bourbon is Tested with Six Month

And Thirteen Month Stave Drying Time 

FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (Oct. 29, 2013) Barrel stave drying time is the latest focus in Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Experimental Collection program, as two experiments are released, one with the standard Buffalo Trace stave drying time of six months, and one with a 13 month stave drying time.

Both bourbons were put into new, charred white oak barrels produced by Independent Stave Company 15 years ago. Both groups of barrels were charred with Buffalo Trace’s standard number four char, which is 55 seconds. One group of barrels was crafted from staves that had been air dried for 13 months. Air drying, or seasoning, refers to the process of allowing barrel staves to be left out in the open air to experience all of the natural temperature and weather changes that occur around them. The other group of barrels, the “control” barrels, received Buffalo Trace’s standard six month air drying time on its staves.  Then both sets of barrels were filled with Buffalo Trace Rye Mash #1, and left to age.

The taste differences began to show up early in the experimental process, as all experimental barrels at Buffalo Trace are tasted every few months to check in on the progress.  The end result for the standard six month stave seasoned barrels was a well-rounded bourbon that has flavors of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

The 13 month stave seasoned barrels led to a bourbon that tastes of sweet nuts balanced with mild spicy notes, creating a robust flavor.

“What’s normal for us isn’t normal for most,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller.  “We have our cooperage age our wood for six months before it’s even made into a barrel, because we’ve found the six months allows our wood to season and bring enzymes to the surface that allow the wood to produce just the right amount of tannins and wood sugars during the charring process.  This allows for the alcohol to extract those flavors efficiently while aging.”

Wheatley continues, “In this experiment, we wanted to explore the changes as the stave drying time was increased from our ‘standard’ six month stave drying to 13 months of stave drying time.  The differences were marked, with the longer stave drying time yielding a sweet, but robust flavor.”

These barrels are part of the more than 1,500 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each of these barrels has unique characteristics that differentiate it from all others. Some examples of these experiments include unique mash bills, type of wood and barrel toasts. In order to further increase the scope, flexibility and range of the experimental program, an entire micro distillery, named The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. “OFC” Micro Distillery, complete with cookers, fermenting tanks, and a state-of-the-art micro still has been constructed within Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The Experimental Collection will be packaged in 375ml bottles and will be packed 12 to a case, with six bottles of each experiment in a case. Each label will include all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskeys will retail for approximately $46.35 each. These rare experimental bottles should be available in November. For more information on the Experimental Collection or the other products of Buffalo Trace Distillery, please contact Elizabeth Hurst at ehurst@buffalotrace.com.

About Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1786 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named Whisky Magazine 2010 World Icons of Whisky “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 200 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracedistillery.com.

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