Buffalo Trace sharing its experiments

Buffalo Trace has quietly been working with what amounts to an adult chemistry set for about 17 years. What comes of the activity is a steady stream of experimental whiskies from the Franklin County, KY, distiller.

Now for the first time, Buffalo Trace plans to bottle a few experimental barrels. Its rule will be a maximum of 400 bottles of any one kind for each experiment to be released, beginning late this month.

Says Harlen Wheatley, master distiller, "We love to push the envelope of whiskey making by exploring different ideas and methods we've never tried before."

Company officials say the first three barrels will be the start of making more periodic releases. The first trio will be called the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection.

Buffalo Trace says no pre-release tasting samples will be available, so I can't provide first-hand tasting notes. Here, instead, are details of the first three releases as described by the company:

• French Oak: This bourbon was aged 10 years in a French oak barrel in which the staves were first air-dried for 24 months. The oak has given the whiskey a sugary sweetness and dark caramel color.

• Twice Barreled: After aging this bourbon for 8 years, 8 months, this whiskey was put into a new barrel. With twice the wood, this whiskey has lots of oak and a long, warm finish.

• Fire Pot Barrel: This barrel was heated to 102 degrees F for 23 minutes to dry the wood prior to filling. The whiskey has a smoky nose, and hints of fruit and tobacco on the pallet.

The Experimental Collection will be packaged in 375ml bottles at $46.35 each. Each label will fully describe information unique to that barrel.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company. in a distillery producing bourbon and vodka on site. The facility recently was named to the National Historic Register.

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