Woodford Reserve had its Master's Collection Seasoned Oak Finish. Then Maker's Mark came out with Maker's 46, a finish supplied by seared French oak panels. Later this year, Woodford Reserve will debut a maple wood finish.
Now come the two new Buffalo Trace experimentals, two 15-year-old whiskeys; one aged in new toasted French oak, the other aged in used charred American oak "seasoned with toasted oak chips."
Since I mentioned the three finishes above, I should make clear that the two Buffalo Trace experimentals are not finishes. Both whiskeys were fully aged -- for 15 years -- with the wood components as described.
The two labels are reproduced above and below. One interesting point is the difference in evaporation. Since they were stored in essentially the same warehouse location, the difference has to be the wood. The used American oak barrel lost 54.2 percent of its contents but the new, toasted French oak barrel lost 69.7 percent. A new barrel will absorb and hold more spirit than a used barrel, but differences between the two oak species may also be responsible.
Both whiskeys started out back in 1995 as Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash Bill #2, but since neither one was aged in new charred oak they aren't bourbon. I haven't tasted them so I can't say how good they are, but that's quite a pedigree. I can also say that an earlier experiment with French oak was terrific.
This experimental program began, well, more than 15 years ago and there have been several previous releases. They have about 1,500 barrels in the warehouses now that represent experiments of various kinds.
As with previous releases in the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, they are packaged in half-bottles (375 ml) with a suggested retail of $46.35. They are being released now and will be hard to get. For more information contact Kris Comstock.