Whisky Advocate

Buffalo Trace: “Single Oak” Project

March 6th, 2010

Mark Brown, President and CEO of Buffalo Trace Distillery, is such a tease.

Here is the landing page of a website that will expand into revealing a project that Mark is hopeful “will be the largest experimental project of its kind ever undertaken.”

That’s saying a lot. But, if anyone call pull it off, Buffalo Trace can. Stay tuned!

14 Responses to “Buffalo Trace: “Single Oak” Project”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    I’m not familiar with the term “landing.” I guess it means a page, which will eventually jump users to the page with the real content, but for now doesn’t take us anywhere. Single Oak– what does it mean? Maybe the same bill in a bunch of different species of oak? hm…

  2. jburlowski says:

    Don’t know for sure if this is the same as the subject at hand but at a tasting a few months back Harlen Wheatley (Master Distiller at BT) talked at length about their studies of the impact of oak on bourbon. He said that they were following specific trees (based on climate, topography, geograhic location, age, etc, etc.) They have already done experiments using barrels made from a single tree, filled with the same distillate, and aged next to each other in the rickhouse. Since they had controlled for the other factors, they were tracking the taste impact of different entry proofs. We got to try samples and the differences were very apparent.

  3. Nabil says:

    I would expect that keeping the white dog variable constant (using the same run or batch), that you would then be able to tease out variations that are due to the wood. I don’t find it surprising at all that there would be differences. Even if you cloned a tree with a graft, the local soil conditions, hours of sunlight, water quality and quantity, would affect the sap production within the tree. All of this would affect grain or pore size of the cellulose, the sugar content in the sap, the density of the wood..and ultimately flavour.

    I think this could be an innovative move on the part of producers to lend more uniqueness to their product…I’m a big fan of the Trace…can’t wait to taste.

  4. sam k says:

    The acorn on that page would seem to indicate the concept that jburlowski mentions. One acorn, one tree, one barrel. Sounds intriguing, and I’m looking forward to Mark’s lifting the veil sometime soon.

    I can’t help but think that Buffalo Trace is the Lewis and Clark of the distilling world!

  5. Jon W. says:

    It almost has to mean that the whisky is aged in barrels made from a single tree (could be more than one barrel), doesn’t it? In any event, I’m looking forward to reading more!

  6. chef! says:

    So now we’re possibly going to have to reference serial numbers for trees an coopers? That sounds like fun!

    I’m not an expert on wood but it seems to me that the one aspect that can influence the spirit directly and the for the longest amount of time is a matter of species only and relying on the cooper’s reputation of making a good barrel. This could be groundbreaking considering whisk(e)y is considered more regional than a terroir spirit. Even the trickle-down effect on scotch could be interesting.

  7. Geoff K says:

    This sounds like a fascinating experiment. Will be interesting to see if oak trees from different regions have significant flavor variance when made by the same distillate. I’d expect they should. Looking forward to this, always enjoy Buffo Trace and their products.

    Hope the run isn’t so small or so expensive that it isn’t widely available in the market.

  8. I’m very curious. Buffalo Trace seem to be good at building buzz.

  9. Mr Manhattan says:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one now thinking about the BT Experimental Series bottling from last year which investigated the effects of grain over 14 years. There were a pair of bottles, one from a barrel made from fine grained staves the other from a barrel made from coarse grain staves. The two were then kept next to each other in the rickhouse. Very different whiskeys emerged.


  10. bgulien says:

    The next hype in scotch, after the casks are exported to Scotland: single oak, single cask.
    Hope Speyside Cooperage is keeping up with the new trend.
    Won’t want your oak mixed up!

  11. Ralph Biscuits says:

    This sounds like a cool idea and could be a significant change in how whiskey is aged.
    I’m very curious.

  12. Nabil says:


    Great observation…I think someone earlier mentioned serial numbers for each tree…how about attaching the GPS coordinates for each tree to the casks it produces. Then GPS coordinates for similarly located trees would then become specialty commodities depending on the quality of the resulting whisky? You could then Google Earth your coordinates to see exactly where your whisky cask came from. You could plot points for high quality casks, highly rated whiskies. Then those geographies would become valuable real estate for some lucky farmer! Just a thought.

    The GPS appellation would then carry over to scotch…oh the fun the marketers will have with this.

  13. Seth Nadel says:

    I wonder what the availability is going to be. Buffalo Trace doesn’t have a great reputation of making whiskey available to the masses.

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