By Debbie Shocair
I had never been a fan of white whiskeys, primarily because I hadn’t yet encountered one worth fandom. Leave it to the forces-that-be at Buffalo Trace to make one that is more than worthy.
I have long enjoyed most creations from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, but, even so, this one was a lovely surprise. While most try-box spirits are raw and ragged in the bottle, BT White Dog has managed to be anything but harsh.
This lovely creature, sold only in a 375ml bottle, is labeled “Mash #1,” the distillery’s stock bourbon mashbill believed (but not confirmed) to have a rye content of 10% or less. The real white dog, straight off the still, is 140 proof, which is then cut to 125 proof (62.5% abv) before it is poured into the barrel. That is what is in the bottle: the 125 proof starter spirit for Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg.
That’s just the technical stuff. When you get to what’s actually inside the bottle, that’s the point you have to hold onto your hat, because this isn’t even like moonshine. This? This is pure artistry from folks who labor to make people like you and me really love whiskey.
After the first whiff, the high alcohol engagement with your sinuses drifts away, and then the nose on the White Dog is redolent with corn. Corn, trampled grain, and then, as you really study the aroma, you find sweet cereal and milk. Breathe in gently, with your mouth open, and in fact, the longer you study it, the more you might remember the milk left in your cereal bowl after the cereal was gone.
Breaking it with a half-teaspoon of water didn’t affect much of a change in the character other than to soften it slightly overall.
The mouthfeel is big, as you might expect for an unaged 125 proof spirit, boldly tingling the lips, the back of the palate and under the tongue, but the finish is surprisingly soft if you are careful to hold it in your mouth four or five seconds. In fact, other than the big experience in the mouth, there was absolutely no burn on the way down!
The White Dog’s finish seems at first short, awash with corn and a spiciness reminiscent of a rye whiskey, but after a short while it is clear a creamy, back of palate conclusion still lingers, with floral, grassy notes and still more hints of sweet vanilla milk.
I love an interesting whiskey and I love surprises. Buffalo Trace has put forth a surprisingly delicious and very interesting new make spirit that I am very happy to say is outstanding. If you love whiskey, I suggest you try this one on its own at first, then in a cocktail if the Dog’s bite worries you at all. Plus, it’s lovely in good coffee with a little cream.
This unaged whiskeey goes for about $16 for a 375ml.