Buffalo Trace (45%, OB, Circa 2013)

A new month, and maybe it just is time for something different. Different from Single Malt Whisky that is. More than three years ago, I reviewed a Single Barrel version of Buffalo Trace, selected by Binny’s. A barrel that otherwise would have been used for the standard bottling of Buffalo Trace. Up untill now, I even haven’t tried the standard Buffalo Trace bottling, so here it is, maybe long overdue on these pages, so without further ado, straight from Frankfort, Kentucky, USA, here is Buffalo Trace.

Buffalo Trace 45%Color: Orange Gold.

Nose: Yeasty with lots of honey. Hints of bread and some great fresh and sappy oak. Glue and corn. Toasted cask, sweet and spicy and slightly soapy. Hints of red fruits and dried apricots in white chocolate and a tiny hint of cherry liqueur. Next some dried leaves on the pavement (in November). Glue and soap don’t sound very nice, but I can assure you, it all fits together quite nicely. It smells quite modern and fresh, although some old planks from an old grocery shop are there.

Taste: Sweet and toffee. Creamy vanilla. Yes, toffee and caramel, with some prickling wood spice, soon to be countered by the initial sweetness of the Bourbon. However, this sweetness seems to come and go, switching places with a dry oak sensation. Hints of acidic red fruits, and some light candied oranges. It is quite mellow and much simpler than the nose was. I no way would I have guessed this to be 45% ABV. It seems lower, mellower. In the taste there isn’t a lot of evolution and there isn’t a lengthy finish, but it does leave a nice aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong. This is a nice Bourbon, that is easily drinkable. Definitely a very good entry-level Bourbon.

Here I will compare this Buffalo Trace to the Binny’s Single Barrel version I reviewed earlier. On the nose, The Binny’s version seems to me to have more depth and has an addition of florality to it (Lavender, fresh, not lavender soap). It also has more caramel and smells sweeter. Heavier on the fruit too. It simply has more aroma. Much less virgin oak but it does have some paper in stead. The rest of the nose overlaps with the standard version. In the taste it seems more similar to the standard version. Not a lot of difference in age or “thickness”. Just a little bit more added depth and slightly sweeter. The wood has a tiny hint of pine that is quite nice. The wood itself is less of the virgin type, and more of the old grocery shop plank type. It seems to be mellower and it doesn’t have the attack and the glue of the standard version. In the end, the Binny’s version offers a different take on the standard Buffalo Trace, but the quality is there in both.

Points: 82

Bourbon Week – Day 3: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13yo (47.8%, OB, K0375, 70 cl)

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is not a Bourbon. But I did say I would throw in the odd Rye, didn’t I? And why wouldn’t I, since Rye is really America’s first whiskey. What is it precisely? This is a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. Technically a Bourbon is very close to a Rye Whisky. Just a shift in grains in the mash bill. By law its required to be made of a mash of at least 51% rye. The other grains of the mash are usually corn and some malted barley. Rye whiskey is called Straight, when it has been aged for at least two years. Now this 13yo Rye. Well first of all, this isn’t 13yo. Its called 13yo because Julian van Winkle bought the Rye’s in this whisky at 13yo. He nevertheless let the Whiskey age until its 18th year and at that age it was put in stainless steel tanks, to stop its ageing. Where does this come from? Van Winkle isn’t a distillery so they got their whisky from somewhere else. A lot of their Bourbons come form the sadly deceased Stitzel-Weller distillery, but this Rye is supposedly from Medley (Owensboro Kentucky) ánd Cream of Kentucky (Frankfort), and has an unusual high corn content for a straight rye.

Color: Copper

Nose: Fresh. Dusty coconut. Spicy and wood. This could have been a single malt. It’s not the spice from the wood but the spice comes first. Very nice nose, almost luxury. It’s almost like this had some cherry fruityness to it, but that has almost gone. Later on some honey in the nose

Taste: Wow, this is wood in the good way, and glue in the good way. What a fabulous aged Rye! Sometimes a whiff of soap passes by. Rye can give it a very distinct ‘hardness’ to the finished product, but this is about 38% corn. This corn sweetness (Paul McCartney) tames the Rye a bit (John Lennon) and together they create a fabulous harmony, balance, with a perfect bite in the finish. And that’s not all, the finish also has some honeyed caramel. Honeyed caramel with a bite. What else do you want…

This is an unbelievable fine ‘blend’ of Rye’s. Period.

Points: 88

Bourbon Week – Day 2: Buffalo Trace (45%, OB, Single Cask for Binny’s, 750 ml)

Day two of the Bourbon week on Master Quill. This time a bottle from Buffalo Trace simply called Buffalo Trace. Again a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey but this time from Frankfort, Kentucky. Buffalo Trace make a lot of different Whiskey’s. Bourbons, Ryes and Wheaters. Also a lot of different brands come from Buffalo Trace, and some are not the worst on the market. Just think of the Staggs and Sazeracs of this world. Wow!

For this review I’ll use and oddity of Buffalo Trace, well it’s definitively and oddity for us Europeans. They already bottle a lot of different whiskies that also taste quite different, lot of different mash bills. Here we have a single barrel version of the regular Buffalo Trace. A single cask picked by Binny’s (from the Chicago Bay Area). So the bottle is the same as the regular one, except for an elliptical golden sticker. Issued in 2010.

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Honey, and a lot of it! Even the waxy part is there, honeyed furniture wax. Hints of toasted oak. Fresh sea air and meaty. Like sitting on the porch of your sea-side cabin, and the smell of  freshly made meatballs float by. Chocolaty and vaguely spicy. Very balanced. Nothing in this overpowers the rest.

Taste: More wood, and again a lot of honey. It tastes just less sweet than honey. It’s not overly complex, but very likeable. It’s not too sweet nor to dry. Texture is thin, even water seems thick. Just don’t confuse this with a thin taste, because that would be unfair. The people from Binny really did choose a nice cask. One that shows us what kind of whisky is (mass) produced for this ‘standard’ bottling, and it shows us what a damn good whiskey they make at Buffalo Trace. Kudos!

Yeah this is not bad, not bad at all. This will be no problem to finish, no problem whatsoever. Before finishing this piece, I already poured it four times. Very good standard bottling! Ok,ok, Single Barrel of a standard bottling. A shame really that I don’t have the standard version at hand…

Points: 82