Newest Old Charter Oak Bourbon From Buffalo Trace Explores French Oak - The Whiskey Wash

Newest Old Charter Oak Bourbon From Buffalo Trace Explores French Oak

By Nino Marchetti / June 7, 2019

Buffalo Trace late last year introduced the Old Charter Oak bourbon series, a line up of American whiskeys designed to explore “how barrels made from trees that grew in different countries, climates, and soil … affect the flavors of the whiskey.” The first such limited release focused upon Mongolian oak, and now the series is back for 2019 with a new expression focused upon French oak influences.

The new Old Charter Oak French Oak, according to those behind it, came about as a result of the distillery obtaining a small number of barrels from France in 2007. These barrels, made of wood harvested from the forests of that nation, were filled with Mash #1, the same mashbill used to make Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and several other bourbons from Buffalo Trace. French oak in general is said to be of a tighter grain, reportedly imparting “more subtle flavors and a silkier texture than its American counterpart.” It was bottled recently at 92 proof, making this an expression that’s around 12 years old.

Old Charter Oak French Oak

Old Charter Oak French Oak (image via Buffalo Trace)

“We’re excited to release our second bourbon in this ground breaking series,” said said Kris Comstock, Buffalo Trace senior marketing director, in a prepared statement. “As of now, we have bourbon aging for the Old Charter Oak collection scheduled for release now through 2030, but we’ll keep producing more each year for more new whiskeys beyond that.”

As is mentioned in the quote above, Old Charter Oak looks to be an ongoing series that will be released over time, with a few releases planned for each year. In general, as mentioned previously, the oak trees used for this brand vary by country of origin, or species, or U.S. state. Some barrels are even made from century oaks, 100, 200, or 300 year old oak trees.

With regards to French Oak specifically, plans call for it to price around $70 and be a limited edition release. Packaging for the French Oak will be similar to the Mongolian Oak, with an upscale look consisting of a glass bottle with a cork finish. Each bottle will have an oak medallion on the front depicting the Charter Oak tree. Limited official tasting notes suggest “a nose of vanilla with hints of apricot, cherry, and rose petal.  The palate is a thick and creamy maple syrup, with the oak flavor coming through. A long finish of chocolate and toasted oak round it out.”

For the curious, Old Charter is a historic brand in of itself. It is said to date back to 1874, when Adam and Ben Chapeze created the bourbon, naming it in honor of the Charter Oak tree, a famous symbol of American independence and free spirit, which grew in Connecticut in the 12th or 13th century until it fell in a storm in 1856. It changed owners a few times, until it was purchased by Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999.  The existing Old Charter Bourbon is still produced by parent company Sazerac and there are no plans to discontinue it. The Old Charter Oak series is see as an upscale brand extension.