This is a project that Buffalo Trace has been working on for over ten years. It is intriguing, but at the same time a bit confusing. This is Called the Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project. It started with 96 American White Oak trees from the Missouri Ozarks. The trees were selected for their grains, some tightly grained that comes from slow growth, and some loosely grained that comes from rapid growth.
The trees were then split in two, top and bottom. Staves were made from each part of the tree and kept together for aging and finally barrel construction. So now you 192 barrels, each made from either the top or bottom of a single oak tree. Phase one complete.
Phase two is the charring of the barrels. Barrels were charred to different degrees. Some were deeply charred, while others lightly, and varying levels in between. How many levels I don’t know, they never really said. I would have liked to know this as it has an effect on the number of variables that go into each whiskey…
The whiskey itself comes from seven different mash bills. Some is Rye Whiskey, some is Wheat Whiskey, as well as high rye and low rye bourbon mash bills. These individual whiskeys were then put in barrels for aging. Each Barrel Aged for almost 10 years.
Finally the filled barrels were placed in different warehouses and in different places within each warehouse for aging. All of this information has been tracked and recorded. The final phase is the release and data collection. These bourbons were just released within the last week or two. In total there are over 1300 variables that can be tracked and understood within this collection of whiskey.
The reason for this? Buffalo Trace thinks they can learn from this project, and make better whiskeys. They have set up a web site where you can register and give them feedback on each individual whiskey. They will then use this information and feedback to distill (Pun intended) the pertinent information for future whiskey production.
It is a huge undertaking, but perhaps the most important one in the history of bourbon whiskey production. I hope to be able to get a couple of these bottles and give them feedback via their web site to have my voice heard in this important endeavor.
You can participate too. Simply go to this web site and register. You can earn points and just have some fun with it.
So what do you think about something like this? Would you be interested in participating and giving them feedback? I think it is unique and interesting way to systematically learn more about whiskey production and the variables that make a great whiskey.
UPDATE: Almost forgot a very important factor. These whiskeys entered the barrel at different proofs. This can give entirely different flavor profiles all on its own. OK, maybe it excites me a little too much.