By Richard Thomas
This year’s first set of experimental releases from Buffalo Trace is definitely an oddball: the distillery was presumably curious about how exposure to radiative light energy might impact on barrel wood, this on top of a brief charring. Two sets of four barrels were exposed to an infrared (IR) treatment, filled with mash bill #1 (Eagle Rare, Stagg, Old Charter, Buffalo Trace) new make bourbon, and aged for 6 1/2 years. The results were bottled at 90 proof.
The second half of the experiment received 30 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequencies at 60% power. This was slightly less power, but for double the duration of the first half.
The color on this longer IR experiment is, appropriately enough, redder than it’s predecessor. The color is akin to a clearer, brighter red amber beer, i.e. take the color and subtract the bubbles. Consequently, it is the darker of the two.
As if the appearance weren’t a big enough hint, the nose tells you right away this is a more wood-forward bourbon. The nose is still predominately sweet and candied, with plenty of brown sugar and vanilla, but now packs noticeable notes of cloves and cinnamon, and is rather toasty as well.
The flavor is bigger and bolder too. The sweetness moves into the dried fruit territory, raising and currants, and the underlying notes become at least as much nutty as spicy. Longer is clearly better when it comes to IR-treated wood.
Experimental Bourbon #2 goes for $46 per 375 ml bottle.