Buffalo Trace is exploring oak again in its newest release from the Old Charter Oak collection, Spanish Oak Bourbon.
A recent statement from the distiller noted that the oak for these casks was harvested from the forests of northern Spain, and the wood for this year’s experiment were made into staves that were seasoned outdoors before becoming the barrels that aged this whiskey.
Spanish Oak Bourbon joins the four previous releases in the Old Charter Oak series, including Chinkapin Oak, Mongolian Oak, French Oak, and Canadian Oak.
The whiskey was aged at Buffalo Trace Distillery, and the distiller’s notes show that this whiskey is a stark contrast to that aged in American oak barrels.
The statement explained that while American oak gives a softer, sweeter taste with notes of vanilla and caramel, European oak, including the Spanish oak varietal, is drier, spicier and has stronger wood input.
Spanish oak is known as the oak that ages sherries, and the wood imparts caramel and vanilla notes along with flavors of dark stone fruit, toasted nuts and baking spice.
“The whiskey extracts from the charred oak barrel exciting elements like eugenol, vanillin and whiskey lactone,” said Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatley. “American oak has higher proportions of vanillin and whiskey lactone, resulting in bourbon with a softer, sweeter taste and notes of vanilla and caramel. Our Spanish oak, on the other hand, has more eugenol, meaning drier, spicier notes and flavors like clove are imparted onto the liquid.”
He said they specifically wanted to test Spanish oak as part of this collection because of its connection to sherry, which is known to be a nuttier, fruitier spirit.
“We were curious how those flavors would impact the taste of whiskey, and we are very pleased with the result,” he added.
Wheatley said that a common misconception about the distilling process is that bourbon must be aged in new American oak barrels. “Though most bourbons mature in American white oak barrels, federal regulations do not specify what type of oak the barrel must be, only that it must be a new, charred oak container.”
“Our Old Charter Oak collection is a superb example of trying new things and offering consumers and fans more ways to enjoy our award-winning portfolio of whiskeys,” Wheatley said.
Each bottle of Spanish Oak Bourbon has an oak medallion on the front depicting the Charter Oak tree. The whiskey clocks in at 92 proof and has a suggested retail pricing of $69.99 for a 750mL bottle. It’s available in select markets in the United States starting this spring.
For more information, check out www.buffalotracedistillery.com.