Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
Buffalo Trace bourbon, the flagship of arguably the most prolific distillery propelling the modern day bourbon boom, was introduced in 1999 right after the distillery's owner, Sazerac, decided to change the name from the George T Stagg (sound familiar?) Distillery to Buffalo Trace. The distillery, located in Frankfurt, is allegedly the oldest continuously operating distillery in the nation (I feel like they all claim this). The distillery itself is a registered national landmark, and has ties to many giants in bourbon lore, like Colonel Edmund Taylor, Albert Blanton, Elmer T Lee, and George T Stagg. It's best know for currently producing some of the most highly allocated and highly sought after whiskeys in the country like the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) and Pappy Van Winkle. Today however, we'll just look at the standard $25 namesake bourbon. It's been getting somewhat harder to find these days, but is still generally readily available in most markets for under $30.
- Made from Buffalo Trace's "Low rye mash bill #1" (less than 10% rye).
- Non-age stated but generally accepted to be 6-8 years old
- Bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof)
Nose: Crème Brulee, creamy caramel, some sweet pipe tobacco, and hints of cocoa round out the most discernable flavors. Deeper in are some some cinnamon and clove, and a bit of woodiness – like green tree sap. Much more complex than you would expect from an entry level bourbon.
Palate: Again, impressively complex while shrugging off that 1-dimensional corn syrupy dominance found in so many younger bourbons with very high corn content. Molasses, mole (the Mexican chocolate), and cinnamon up front, which sweetens into a slightly smokey caramel and vanilla. Thin and syrupy mouthfeel.
Finish: Oaky and verging on vegetal, with some vanilla wafer and damp charcoal lingering.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try. I really like this bourbon for its price. It won't blow you away, but you'll be hard pressed to find a more well rounded bourbon in the price range. For what its worth, its also an excellent base for Old Fashioned's.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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