Buffalo Trace Sour Mash Experimental Bourbons Review

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By April Manning

Rating: B-

Buffalo Trace Sour Mash Experimentals

The Buffalo Trace Old Sour Mash Experimental Bourbons
(Credit: Sazerac)

Buffalo Trace Distillery, located in Frankfort, Kentucky, has decided to get back to basics with the latest release in their experimental whiskey program. They have made bourbon using the traditional (some may say old-school) practice of souring the mash. In this method the mash is cooked, cooled and allowed “to sour” before the yeast is added.

This old-fashioned method requires extra time and energy, and so has been neglected in modern, more efficient times, where the yeast is added along with a little already distilled mash (known as “setback”) immediately to save time. It has been argued that this much handling of the mash gives a much less desirable flavor, but Buffalo Trace has shown that experimenting with the old ways is well worth looking into again.

The Bourbon
There are two bottles in this release,  and although each one was bottled at 90 proof they differ in their entry proof, or the strength at which they were put into the barrel.

The 105 entry proof is light gold in color and has an aroma that is smoky-sweet with a dash of caramel. The taste is mild with a light body and the smoke you smell comes out in the front of your tongue. There are fruity, citrus undertones that mix nicely with the caramel sweetness coming out at mid-palate. It concludes with a smooth finish that leaves a slight burn in the back of the throat, just enough to let you know you drank a 90 proof bourbon. This variety is more pleasant to sip on rather than shoot and will definitely be a favored spirit of those who prefer more “gentle” bourbon.

The 125 entry proof has a deeper, richer amber color with much of the same characteristics of the 105 entry proof, but they are less pronounced in the 125. The sweetness is there but it is lingering more in the background. This entry proof comes across with a spicier, fuller body flavor that gives the slight burn sensation between the initial hit in the mouth and the finish. I preferred drinking shots of the more masculine 125 entry proof.

Buffalo Trace is experimenting with many variables that affect their bourbons, such as types of wood for the barrels, the range of char for the barrels, and unique mash bills. This sour mash trial worked out well for them, leaving me looking forward to tasting what the rest will bring.

The Price
$46.35 for two 375ml bottles

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