Ladies and gentlemen, this is a special one. Before we get started, let’s let Buffalo Trace tell us a bit about whats different about this bourbon.
The barrel staves used for this special release were allowed to dry outside in the open air for 13 months, more than twice as long as standard barrel staves. Most white oak barrel staves used for Buffalo Trace’s bourbons are placed outside for 6 months before being fashioned into whiskey barrels. Collaborating with barrel manufacturer Independent Stave Company back in 1998, this extra aging curing process allowed the wood to dry even longer, eventually allowing the whiskey to extract more rich and complex flavors deep within the oak.
Now that we got that out of the way, lets discuss how hard to find this stuff is. While Buffalo Trace doesn’t state release amounts, it has been estimated that approximately 4,000 bottles of Cured Oak were released to the market. That puts this release in the same ballpark as the BTAC William Larue Weller and Sazerac 18 numbers-wise. So let’s break that down a bit. If each state got an equal amount, that would put it at 80 bottles per state (math!). We know, however, that the allocations aren’t even and some states receive far less than others. Many reputable sources around OKC have stated only 12 bottles made it into the Sooner State (one dude said only 6 bottles, but I don’t believe him).
I was lucky enough to get one of these bottles by being on my local store’s special release call list and by having cat-like reflexes and getting to the store as soon as I was notified they had a bottle. You can read more about that store here.
Alright, enough about me and my break-neck speed. Let’s see how this stuff stacks up.
Side note: If you are interested in allocations among the states and how releases vary across the U.S. both in time and volume, I highly encourage you to check out the research being done over at Breaking Bourbon. They are doing some excellent work to figure out which states are among the best and worst when it comes to this stuff.
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Location: Frankfort, KY
Mashbill: Buffalo Trace Mashbill #1 (low rye)
Age: 17 Years
ABV: 50% (100 proof, BIB)
Released: March 2015
Color: Golden Amber
Nose: Two words…and stay with me here…fruit punch. The nose on this is so different than I expected it to be. I was obviously expecting tons of oak and funk on this nose due to the age and whole concept of this release, but no. This stuff smells incredible with all those bright red fruit notes, some mint, and a nice base layer of oak to really round the whole thing out.
Taste: Hey, I found those “rich and complex flavors deep within the oak” they were talking about. The profile of the nose does a 180 on the palate with the deep oak notes taking front and center with all those fantastic fruit flavors stepping back a bit to provide an amazing balance of sweet, dry, deep, and bright.
Finish: The finish is just mouthwatering. The sweetness doesn’t fade to harsh, dry oak, like I’ve seen on bourbons of a similar age. This stuff stays smooth and velvety until its last breath.
Overall: I’m sure you couldn’t tell by the notes, but I freaking love this bourbon. I really try to take the “special release” and “super limited” jazz out of my mind while sipping on this and the bottom line is that this stuff is damn good. I would love to see more distilleries playing with the barrels like BT does as it can produce some great things.