Buffalo Trace Distillery broke ground Friday on an experimental barrel warehouse that will allow the distillery to take its quest for the “perfect bourbon” even further.
Named Warehouse X, this warehouse is the first new building Buffalo Trace has added to its 130 acre complex in more than 60 years. Comprised of brick, concrete block, and skylights, it is no ordinary barrel warehouse. With a small footprint of only 30 feet by 50 feet, Warehouse X will have a capacity of around 150 barrels.
Its most compelling feature, however, is four independently operating chambers that will allow specific variables to be tested, in order to determine their effect on aging barrels. There will also be a barrel breezeway with an open air rick, underneath a roof, that will allow a small number of barrels to age while being exposed to the natural elements.
The first four variables Buffalo Trace plans to experiment with are natural light, temperature, airflow, and humidity. Warehouse X will test one variable at a time. For example, the first experiment will focus on the effect of natural light for at least two years. Each chamber will have varying degrees of light, ranging from 100% natural light to complete darkness.
After the natural light experiment is concluded, a new experiment will start on temperature, and then studies will start on the effects of humidity, and so on.
Warehouse X is projected to be finished by August 2013, but everyone can track the progress and view pictures of the construction through a blog updated frequently: www.experimentalwarehouse.com.
Upon completion, visitors to Buffalo Trace Distillery will be able to walk around Warehouse X and learn about the current experiment occurring inside.
“It’s no secret that we’re on the hunt to find the Holy Grail of bourbon,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “By building this experimental warehouse, we’ll be able to keep a tight control on the variables that affect the barrel aging process and can make changes along the way to the aging environment that will hopefully allow us to one day come up with the perfect bourbon.”
The whiskeys aged inside Warehouse X will be bottled under the Experimental Collection line. It will be a minimum of eight years after the warehouse is completed before any whiskey will be bottled from Warehouse X.