Buffalo Trace’s Single Oak Project (Part 2): My Thoughts and Opinions
I first wrote about it here last week. Have a look if you need to get the background. Today, I’m going to give you the details of the 12-bottle first release and offer some brief thoughts on them.
Here’s a breakdown of each bottle number, along with the variables from each bottling:
3 – Tight Grain, Top Cut, Rye Recipe
4 – Tight, Bottom, Rye
35 – Tight, Top, Wheat
36 – Tight, Bottom, Wheat
67 – Average, Top, Rye
68 – Average, Bottom, Rye
99 – Average, Top, Wheat
100 – Average, Bottom, Wheat
131 – Coarse, Top, Rye
132 – Coarse, Bottom, Rye
163 – Coarse, Top, Wheat
164 – Coarse, Bottom, Wheat
As you will see, the variables are the mash bill (wheat or rye as the “spice” ingredient), which half of the tree the barrel was made from (top or bottom), and the grain size (tight, average, course).
Note that the bottle numbers are grouped in pairs (3-4, 35-36, etc.). The odd numbered bottles are from the top cut of the tree, while the even numbers are from the bottom cut of the tree.
My observations and preferences
First, let me say that my opinions are just one person, and there are other opinions out there that differ from mine. Also, if you want to taste these whiskeys without any opinions bias you, this would be a good time to stop reading this post.
One thing I noticed immediately was that the bottom cut (the even numbers) really show a lot more wood influence (and possibly even terroir). Generally speaking, I preferred the bourbons that were aged in barrels made from the top part of the trees (the odd numbered bottles). In many instances, the wood from the bottom cut dominates the flavor profile.
I sort of feel the same way with whiskeys aged in barrels made from wood with the course grain size (131, 132, 163, 164). There’s a lot of wood influence there. The course grain particularly dominates the more delicate (and vulnerable?) wheat-spiced whiskeys (163, 164). In fact, 163 and 164 were my least favorite of the twelve. Generally speaking, bourbon made from barrels with average grain size seemed to be the sweet spot.
On the flip side, the wheated whiskeys with “top” wood and both tight and average grain (35 and 99, respectively) were quite nice. They were (respectively) my 2nd and 3rd favorite whiskeys. If you like wheated bourbons, you might consider one of these.
My favorite of the bunch: #67: a rye bourbon with average grain size wood taken from the top of a tree. I felt it was elegant, refined, and sophisticated. I could drink this stuff all day long.
So, trying to summarize what I liked most: whiskeys aged in barrels made from the top parts of the tree with an average grain size for the rye bourbon (#67) and a tight grain for the wheated bourbon (#35), because it’s a more delicate style of whiskey.
Has anyone else tried any of these yet? If so, your thoughts?