FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (May 2, 2011) – It’s no secret Buffalo Trace Distillery has been on a quest for the perfect bourbon. Dubbed “the Holy Grail” by the company CEO Mark Brown, formal presentations have been given on it, newspaper articles have been written and heck, even a documentary has been produced on it called “Quest for the Perfect Bourbon.”
On Friday, April 29th, Buffalo Trace Distillery unveiled its latest endeavor to a select group of spirits writers from around the world; a line up of single tree bourbons it hopes will lead to the world’s perfect bourbon. Officially called Single Oak Project Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, this project is an amazing mixture of creativity, patience, ingenuity and dedication.
Beginning in 1999, then Warehouse Manager Ronnie Eddins traveled to the Missouri Ozarks to hand pick 96 trees, consisting of fine grain, medium grain and coarse grain wood, based on the tree’s growth rings. Each type of grain indicates a different growth rate and will yield a different flavor profile. From there, each tree was cut into a top and a bottom piece, yielding 192 unique sections. Next stop was the lumber yard, where staves were created from each section and were tagged and tracked. The staves were divided into two groups and given different air dried seasonings, 6 months and 12 months. The air drying allows Mother Nature to break down some of the more harsh flavored characteristics commonly found in wood.
After all the staves were air dried, a single barrel was then created from each tree section, resulting in 192 total barrels.
The next step in the process was to experiment with different char levels of the barrels. Two different char levels were used, a number three and a number four char. (The standard char level for all Buffalo Trace products is a number four char, which is a 55 second burn.)
Then, barrels were filled with one of two different recipes, a wheat and a rye recipe bourbon. To further the variety of experiments, barrels were filled at two different proofs, 105 proof and 125 proof. And if this wasn’t enough, two completely different warehouses were used, one with a wooden ricks and one with concrete floors. In total, seven different variables were employed in Buffalo Trace’s ultimate experiment.
And then, the waiting began. 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 first release of the Single Oak Project Bourbon is expected to hit stores nationwide in very limited quantities around the end of May. Each release will consist of 12 unique single barrel bourbons. Every case will contain 12 bottles, each from a different barrel. The first release is made up of barrel numbers 3, 4, 35, 36, 67, 68, 99, 100, 131, 132, 163 and 164. Each of these barrels had the same entry proof, seasoning, char level and warehouse aging location. However, the hope is to identify the differences in taste based on recipe, wood grain size and tree cut as these characteristics varied amongst this group of barrels. There will be a series of releases over the next four years until all of the 192 barrels have been released. All releases will be packaged in a 375ml bottle. Suggested retail pricing is $46.35.
About Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The distillery’s rich distilling tradition dates back to 1787 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Malt Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named Whisky Magazine 2010 World Icons of Whisky “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 200 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies.