Buffalo Trace Distillery launches its sixth round of Single Oak Project Bourbons, known as the 105 Proof Warehouse L Release.
As the moniker indicates, all the bourbons in this release were aged in Warehouse L and entered into the barrel at 105 proof. This allows this release to focus on three other variables, the recipe, rye vs. wheat; the char level, a number three vs. a number four char; and wood grain size, tight, average, or coarse. All of the other variables such as stave seasoning, aging warehouse, entry proof, and tree cut (top or bottom) remain constant.
Warehouse L is considered by many to be the best all-around aging warehouse at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Longtime Warehouse Operations Manager Leonard Riddle proudly defends Warehouse L as his favorite; the Distillery even dedicated this warehouse to Leonard in 2011. This brick warehouse with five concrete floors and concrete walls create a very concentrated aging environment.
But the most exciting part of this sixth release to Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley is hearing what people think about the 105 entry proof, since entry proof has always been a hot button amongst Master Distillers. “We experimented with many variables and tried to use the most profound. Entry proof is one that has been debated for decades and we are able to offer to the public different variables to get a good look at how it affects flavor.”
So far, nearly 1,800 industry expert and consumer reviews have been given on the five various Single Oak Project releases, and Buffalo Trace is looking forward to receiving many more as consumers get into the project, log in and create accounts to give feedback.
After one year into the Single Oak Project experiment this May, Buffalo Trace Distillery announced there were three barrels in the lead, 10, 106 and 184. Since then, 106 has pulled away as the leader, according to online reviews at www.singleoakproject.com.
“This Single Oak Project experiment is a rare occasion for whiskey connoisseurs to be heard, offer their expertise, and help develop the next great bourbon,” said Kris Comstock, brand manager. “We just hope consumers continue to weigh in with their reviews online.”
After a consumer reviews a bottle online, they will be availed of all the aging details and provenance of the barrel. They can interact with others who’ve also reviewed the barrel, compare their reviews, and even learn for themselves which characteristics they enjoy most, in order to help them select future favorites. Participants online will earn points after each review and most importantly, actively participate in Buffalo Trace Distillery’s quest to create the perfect bourbon!
The Single Oak Project is part of an intensive research project Buffalo Trace Distillery started conducting in 1999 by hand picking 96 trees with different wood grains and then dividing them into a top and bottom piece, yielding 192 unique sections. From there, staves were created from each section and were air dried for either 6 months or 12 months. After all the staves were air dried, a single barrel was created from each tree section, resulting in 192 total barrels. These barrels were given either a number three or a number four char and then filled with either wheat or rye recipe bourbon.
To further the variety of experiments, the barrels were filled at two different proofs, 105 and 125 proof. And if this wasn’t enough, two completely different warehouses were used, one with wooden floors and one with concrete floors. In total, seven different variables were employed in Buffalo Trace’s ultimate experiment.
For eight years the Distillery continued with its tracking process, creating intricate databases and coming up with a potential of 1,396 tasting combinations from these 192 barrels!
The Single Oak Project Bourbon is being released in a series every three months from 2011 through 2015 until all of the 192 barrels have been released. The first releases hit select stores in 2011. This sixth release will reach stores towards the end of August. Like all the other releases, the quantities are very limited. Every case will contain 12 bottles, each from a different barrel. The sixth release is made up of barrel numbers 30, 32, 62, 64, 94, 96, 126, 128, 158, 160, 190, 192. All releases will be packaged in a 375ml bottle.
At the conclusion of the Single Oak Project, the Distillery plans to take the top rated barrel based on online consumer feedback, make more of that product and launch it under the Single Oak Project nameplate.