And so it comes down to this after a four year research project into the finer nuances of making the best bourbon possible. 192 bourbon barrels. 96 trees with different wood grains for these barrels, divided up top and bottom so as to yield 192 unique barrel sections. 1,396 different potential taste combinations. Over 4,600 user reviews of the bourbon from the barrels thus far. What am I talking about? The last call for Buffalo Trace’s much heralded Single Oak Project, taking the form this time around of the last round of bourbons to be released for consumer feedback prior to a master whiskey being crafted.
As I wrote about back in late November, the Buffalo Trace Distillery was nearing the end of the Single Oak Project, looking to create the perfect bourbon from an exhaustive, drinker feedback driven project centering on how different aspects of individually selected American oak trees interact with different bourbons. I say exhaustive because the 192 barrels from which the bourbons were drawn from were released every three months in increments of twelve 375ml bottles over the life of this endeavor.
Some of the Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project bourbons. (image via Buffalo Trace)
For the sixteenth and final research whiskey release, Buffalo Trace is debuting bourbon drawn from barrel numbers 7, 20, 39, 52, 71, 84, 103, 116, 135, 148, 168 and 180. What’s particularly unique about this round is that, unlike previous iterations which tended to focus on just one variable (see list below), one can try a whiskey that covers in some ways all of the following:
recipe (wheat or rye); entry proof (105 proof or 125 proof); stave seasoning (six months or 12 months); grain size (tight, average, or coarse grains); warehouse (concrete floor or wooden rick floor); char number (number three or number four char); and tree cut (top or bottom half of the tree).
“This last release has quite the variety of bourbons,” said Kris Comstock, Buffalo Trace’s bourbon marketing director, in a statement. “We’ve got some wheat and rye recipe, both the 105 and 125 entry proofs, all three grain sizes represented both types of warehouse floors, and oak from both the top and the bottom of the tree. The only consistencies in this release are the stave seasoning at six months and the number four char.”
As with the other releases, drinkers are encouraged to review at the Single Oak Project website what they’ve tasted. At some point soon this voting will close, at which time the winning bourbon will be announced and later replicated for release under the project’s name. If the results are too close to call, noted the distillery, a panel of bourbon industry experts will help evaluate the finalists.
As for pricing and availability, expect to pay around $47 per 375 ml bottle when the bourbons hit retail by the end of the month. When buying from a retailer, make sure to check the bottle you are getting for the barrel number it was drawn from as there are likely bottles from previous releases still floating around.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...