Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace produces some of the most popular and respected whisky brands in the US. Not for nothing, Buffalo Trace is described as the “most outspoken whisky distillery in the world”. Get started with the mild Buffalo Trace Bourbon or put a little bit on it with the Eagle Rare 10 years as a great price-performance bourbon.

Buffalo Trace

If you are interested in whiskey from the USA, or are single malt Scotch fan looking to to broaden your horizons then you can’t go far wrong with Buffalo Trace! The distillery in Frankfort in the state of Kentucky produces some of the most saught after whisky brands in the US. it is not for nothing that Buffalo Trace is called the ‘most outspoken whisky distillery’ in the world. Buffalo Trace has been named ‘distiller of the year’ in whisky magazine five times and the distillery’s bottling regularly reaches top places, be it at the world spirits competition in San Francisco or in Jim Murray’s famous whisky bible. The output of Buffalo Trace is mainly bourbon and rye whisky. As Buffalo Trace creates a variety of different bourbon and rye whiskies, which are published under different brand names it’s not always obvious that you’re buying whisky from this noted distillery.

House style

How does Buffalo Trace taste?Buffalo Trace is the entry-level Bourbon of the distillery. Mostly with 40% vol. This Kentucky Straight Bourbon offers an inexpensive entry into the American Whisky and is a good alternative to Jim Beam and Co. It exists asa standard and as a single barrel version both produced with a “low rye” Mash Bill containing a rye share of 10% or less. It is therefore to be assumed that this whisky is mainly distilled out of corn. If you are looking for a higher-quality alternative, we recommend the Eagle Rare 10 years, from the same Mash Bill segment, but with a higher age.

Production

How is Buffalo Trace produced?Since various grain varieties are used for Bourbon and Rye Whisky, the production differs significantly from that of a Malt Whisky distillery in Scotland. Corn and rye are boiled separately before they are then mixed together with peeled barley. In this case, the peeled barley is necessary to release the enzymes which are important for the mash. In fermentation, old and new mash are mixed together, this is called the “Sour Mash” method. One of the most important differences between Single Malt and Straight Bourbon/Rye is the distillation. Here no pot stills as in Scotland are used, but rather a form of continuous distillation in Column or Patent Stills. Here, a relatively pure, but less complex, raw spirit called “White Dog” in the USA, is distilled. This type of distillation is much more efficient than the Scottish Malt Whisky production, but critics argue that this loses both mouthfeel and more importantly important flavors. Younger spirit of this kind is often slightly harsher as it lacks the copper contact offered by pot stills/

Next the new make, opr white dog, is placed in fresh (virgin) american oak barrels and is distributed into the many different warehouses. The large number of warehouses from Buffalo Trace gives the distillery scope for experiments with temperature and different storage conditions. Thus, depending on the position of the whiskies in the individual warehouses, differences can be distinct.

Recommendations

Blanton’s

Blanton’s is the pioneer bourbon in terms of Single Barrel. In 1984 this Straight Bourbon was the first bourbon put a single barrel bottling on the market. Blanton’s belongs to the “higher rye” Mash Bill by Buffalo Trace with a proportion of 12 to 15% rye, in addition to the legally regulated minimum percentage of 51% corn for Straight Bourbon. Even today, Blanton’s is a house number and a well-available high-quality single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon. Blanton’s will be used as a capacity and in drinking strengths of 40 and 46.5%abv. Opt for the Blanton’s Original at 46,5% ABV where possible.

Benchmark

Like Buffalo Trace is an entry-level segment bottling best used as an alternative to Jim Beam and Co, or for cocktails. It was produced with the same “low rye” Mash Bill, as Buffalo Trace. For those who want to invest a little more money, we recommend the relative but more mature Eagle Rare 10 year old.

Eagle Rare

The Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon was produced with a “low rye” Mash Bill, a rye fraction of 10% or less. This bourbon combines the sweet softness of a bourbon with a low rye fraction with spicy barrel aromas, thanks to its 10-year ripeness, which is high for Bourbon ratios. An exciting combination and our price-performance recommendation!

Colonel E.H. Taylor

This is one of the crown jewels of the “low rye” Mash Bill department of Buffalo Trace. Under the name of the former owner of the distillery Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, a “bottled in bond” single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon and a “bottled in bond” single barrel Kentucky Straight Rye are now being distributed. The whisky is stored in the “Warehouse C”, which was built by Taylor in 1881.

George T. Stagg

George T. Stagg is undoubtedly one of the best horses in the Stall of Buffalo Trace. This Kentucky Straight Bourbon has taken home stagering number of awards. For three years in a row, in 2004, 2005 and 2006, It was the “World Whiskey of the year” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

At the San Francisco World Spirits Competitions, it has claimed gold and double gold several times. It’s is part of the “Antique Collection” of a series of limited special bottlings, which is published annually in the autumn. This Straight Bourbon usually matures for 15 years or longer in the barrel.

Stagg Jr.

After the big brother George T. Stagg is highly sought after and also quickly disappears from the shop shelves in the USA, it was a matter of time until a junior version dropped. The younger version of the George T. Stagg is also well worth sampling. The colour alone speaks volumes!

W.L. Weller

The whisky brand Weller is named after William Larue Weller, one of the pioneers of the Bourbon industry. It contains far more wheat than rye resulting in a softer smoother bourbon. Following this tradition, the whiskies under the brand name W.L. Weller are more wheat-led. By law they must contain 51% corn to be called a Kentucky’s Straight Bourbon, and as approx. 5% of the Mash Bill needs to be barley or use articifical enzymes, we can guess that it’s approx 35% wheat in this Wheated Mash Bill. The recipe is exactly the sameas that of the legendary “Pappy Van Winkles”. W.L. Weller is a “Special Reserve” with 40% vol., as “Antique 107” with 53,5% vol. and to have a 12-year-old version.

Sazerac Straight Rye

Named after the company that owns Buffalo Trace and the eponymous whisky cocktail, which typically contains Rye Whisky. This is a Straight Rye, so a whisky that is made similar to bourbon, only that instead of corn it must contain at least 51% rye. The remaining mixing ratio of the Mash Bills is, as always, secret. Due to the high rye portion, this whisky becomes more spicy than his Bourbon colleagues. Typical Rye flavors are spices such as cloves and pepper, liquorice and vanilla.

History

The story of Buffalo Trace begins at the Kentucky River. Here at a special place, the buffalo herds of the 1800s. Later a distillery, which today bears the name of the beaten path, the “Buffalo Trace”, was to be used for the crossing of the river. The distillery was founded under the name of Old Fire Cooper by Benjamin Blanton, who had previously sought and found his fortune as a gold seeker.

A few years later, it was renamed Old Stagg Distillery, according to the current owner George T. Stagg. The former owner is also the namesman for one of the most-excellent Bourbons in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. In 1912, the son of the founder, Colonel Albert Blanton, began his career in the distillery as a 16-year-old Bürolehrling.

In 1921 he became president of the distillery and leads them through the hardest years, the Prohibition and the Second World War. For friends, family and special guests, Blanton selects special barrels from his warehouse H. Nearly 60 years later, in 1984, his apprentice Elmer T. Lee, meanwhile Master Distiller and himself a legend, introduces the Blanton’s as their own brand and thus as the first single barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon of the world.

Elmer T. Lee will be a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2001 and will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Whisky Advocate in 2002 and in Whisky Magazine in 2012. Until shortly before his death, he came to the distillery to select barrels, among other things for the Kentucky Straight bourbon “Elmer T. Lee” named after him. Elmer T. Lee passed away in 2013 at the age of 93 years.

Distillery Factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Buffalo Trace Kentucky USA
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1920 - Present Grain Buffalo Trace Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Harlen Wheatley Independent