Buffalo Trace Distillery Tasting Notes

Posted: November 21, 2012 in American Whiskies, Bourbon

Blanton’s ‘Original’ Single Barrel 46.5%

Nose: Quite a whisky like nose with hints of manure and dunnage. Hints of decaying rose petal marc mingles with some soft wheaty notes. Lightly perfumed with a pure vanilla pod richness.

Palate: Opens with burnt caramel corn and lots of it! Completely opposite to the nose – subdued and linear with far too much caramel. Late hints of vanilla oak and confected fruit.

Finish: A pleasant, spicy rye finish. Medium length and very bitter with hints of capsicum and burnt sugar.

Conclusion: Pleasant nose. Shame about the palate! Average.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Gold 51.5%

Barrel 179. Warehouse H. Rick 44

Tasted: Dec 2010

Quite a rich nose with no shortage of crisp almost peaty rye to balance the fat wheat and sweet but edgy corn meal. Oily and elegant a sort of Evan Williams meets Sazarac character. The oak is relatively restrained allowing the complexity of the nose to entice. With time some violet notes become apparent, but the rye spices keeps the nose edgy. Like the nose the palate opens with the crisp rye followed by toffee popcorn and piquant alcohol. The oak moves in bringing some gentle spices and natural caramel. Although the finish is reasonably long and laid back it is pretty dry. The combination of rye and oak see to that – definitely edgy!

With water it knocks back the rye intensity on the nose, bringing out the hidden coffee/ cream and orange nuances. Really spicy and rounded now with the rye only noticeable at the periphery. The palate is sweeter as the subdued rye allows the corn to play and personally I miss the impact of the rye. Possibly a bit longer now with that classic earthy finish.

Blantons Straight from the Barrel 64.8%

Barrel 282. Warehouse H, Rick 19, Bottle No64/ Btl: Feb 2013/ Tasted: Apr 2015

The nose displays lashings of manuka honey, jasmine along with a combination of thick buttery oak and grainy oak. Hints of violets, sweet corn, marzipan, camphor and light, herbal rye notes appear. With time it becomes quite floral and feminine with some gorgeous orange peel and sweet spice emerging along with hints of lavender, leather and smoke. A stunning, multi-dimensional nose.

The palate opens with ginger spice, dark treacle and primal earthy notes, but the delivery is just so damn soft! A touch of corn, spicy rye and gritty tannins arrive, building on the middle along with the lightly oiled toffee, honey, citrus, violets and alcohol. Stunning length with the sweet and slightly bitter coffee and rye maurauding all over the finish. Dry but elegant with a serious spice laden fade. For a cask strength Bourbon it is unbelievably soft and balanced with a wonderful earthy/ dunnage/ damp earth after-taste.

Water emphasises the oils and rich toasted toffee oak on the nose. It now displays and almost whisky-like barley character, but that eventually succumbs to the youthful, herbal rye. The palate is even softer now, but still rich and full with a little more bittering oak and chocolaty, hard as nails tannins to balance the softness. Still very spicy and mouth-watering but I’m spitting splinters now! Very violet after-taste now though.

Buffalo Trace 45%

Tasted July 2006

A blend of Kentucky and Indiana corn, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota Rye, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota malted Barley.

Intriguing aromas of crisp rye fruits, earth, vanilla, cotton candy, rich sweet, honied dried fruit, with a slight floral (violet) note. Lovely depth and complexity with a touch of light coffee and vanilla oils. Soft, succulent, quiet sweet and oily on the palate. Mouth coating with crisp rye grains, sweet honied dried fruit and vanilla. A touch floral on the middle with a palate cleansing tanginess. Lovely complexity starting with the oily fruit and finishing with the crisp earthy grains. Very long with the toffee coated fruit lingering with a touch of liquorice. Stylistically it is somewhere between Old Bardstown and Evan Willams.

Buffalo Trace ‘Kentucky Straight Bourbon’ 45%

Tasted: Dec 2012

Nose: Very subtle and whisky like nose of lightly perfumed orange along with a slight alcohol prickle. Quite elegant and deep though with gentle rye spices, treacle and a perfumed violet note.

Palate: Soft and subtle. Relatively simple and like the nose showing more spirit than oak. Pleasant, building spicy rye along with a touch of rose petal marc.

Finish: A lovely, peppery-spice finish, tempered by a light Demerara sugar and treacle finish. The oak does bitter but adds a pleasant chocolatey note.

Conclusion: A lovely, elegant bourbon.

Buffalo Trace 40%

Btl: 2011

Tasted: Dec 2011

The nose opens with pepper, cinnamon and toasted rye notes. So far so good. However the oak is a lot less intense than it used to be and the spirit itself bleeds through with a more noticeable high toned youthful, simplistic character. Less masculine, less intense (given the lower abv) and possibly more elegant.

One could argue that the palate is overly subtle, or one could say that it was thin, bland and watery. I personally think the later. I’m sorry but bottling at 40% rather than 45% has ripped the guts out of this once magnificent spirit. God it’s a lightweight, the oak has disappeared up it’s own proverbial, and yes there maybe a brief flash of pepper but it’s really a sorry shadow of it’s former self.

Allegedly this bottling at a lower strength was done to save money! I can’t believe that a distillery that has built its reputation on intensely complex, powerful and cask strength bottlings feels the need to save a few dollars by desecrating its entry level whiskey. Never has 5% been missed so much. I hope sales plummet and the powers that be at the distillery realise how stupid and short sighted they have been!

Buffalo Trace ‘White Dog – Mash 1’ 62.5% (125 proof)

New make corn, rye and malted barley mash.

Tasted: June 2011

A soft, fluffy (not in a derogatory way) nose of puffed corn and crumbly rye biscuits. Exceptionally deep for new make with a superb purity. With time it becomes exceedingly floral with a distinct note of lilies. In fact this is very complex and it could act as a musky base for a perfume. Maybe I should dab some behind my ears?

The high alcohol content dries the palate quite quickly as one would expect. However there is plenty of malted cereal to get your teeth into. A very intense burst of floral perfume on the middle including the pure violet and lilly notes found on the nose. Exceedingly long with a sort of shredded wheat finish. Very breakfasty!! I think I’ll be having it over my honey-nut cornflakes!

With a drop of water the nose becomes more high toned and oiler. Possibly more restrained now due to the oily congeners, that the oak would remove given time. But it is still beautifully rounded. The palate pretty much mirrors the nose now with a soft rose water note in the finish. Great new make spirit, which shouldn’t be a surprise as we all know how good the Buffalo Trace range is.

Buffalo Trace Experimental/ Made with Rice 45%

Corn, Malt & Rice

Dist: 29/04/2022 Btl: 24/10/2011

Age: 9 years and 5 months

Warehouse/ Floor: I/7

Rick/ Row/ Slot: 50/1/0

Cask: American white oak

Treatment: #4 char – 6 months air dried

Chill filtered.

Tasted: Apr 2013

A very, intense and complex nose, which takes sometime to unpick. The initial impact is a huge blast of earthy, spicy with pepper and violets. There is a slight un-clean edge to the dunnagey/ earthy warehouse notes along with a suggestion of malt vinegar. Plenty of slightly treacly sweet oak arrives as the spirit starts to become quite starchy in character. The oak really starts to assert itself and the nose is becoming increasingly tight and spicy adding cinnamon and hickory spices to the mix. With time a little orange citrus note comes through but the treacle note is becoming more soy sauce like and there are now some distinct sesame notes!

The palate is exceedingly woody and like the nose it has a slightly unclean feel to it. Once you have fought through the alcohol and bitter oak the palate is then hit by wave after wave of spice. .Forcefully concentrated pepper is unleashed as well but the palate finally get some rest bite as the sweet toffee’d vanillins appear. This doesn’t last long as the tannins reappear with a chocolaty vengeance. Damn this is a feral and untamed spirit! And it’s not over yet! It finishes with hints of hickory smoked bacon, starchy rice and herbal accented maple syrup and I can tell you the smoke really lingers!

Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 12 year old Bourbon from Floor #1 45%

Tasted: July 2014

Nose: Soft, toffee’d corn mingles with coffee, herbal rye and some big oak notes. Very classy and beautifully balanced with hints of earth, butter shortbread and milk chocolate along with a slight salinity.

Palate: Soft and harmonious. Very much like the nose with the toffee’d corn and lightly herbal rye in perfect balance with the delicious, creamy oak. Quite chocolaty on the middle, both milk and dark with hints of earth and building spices.

Finish: Long and succulent with a little rose petal marc note in the finish.

Conclusion: As I was tasting this I scribbled – Must be Eagle rare 10 year old. Is it? [tasted blind]

Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 12 year old Bourbon from Floor #5 45%

Tasted: July 2014Nose: Intense, brittle, peppery rye spices with hints of Seville orange marmalade to begin with, followed by perfumed oak. The clarity of the rye is stunning and with time a light earthy note appears along with some dusty, cocoa powder tannins and Colombian coffee.

Palate: Very much like the nose, opening with the light, herbal and brittle rye spices. Hints of mocha and bitter oak follow. Quite drying towards the middle with those herbal notes building in intensity.

Finish: Good length with the herbal rye lingering and the oak gently bittering.

Conclusion: The clarity of the rye is absolutely stunning. If it turns out that there’s no rye here then I’m a Dutchman! [tasted blind]

Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 12 year old Bourbon from Floor #9 45%

Tasted: July 2014

Nose: Crisp, clean and focused with edgy rye, grainy tannins, manure, dried grass and coffee. Intense and visceral with just a soupçon of toffee’d oak and underlying sweet corn notes.

Palate: Crisp and grainy with earthy, edgy rye spices and voluptuous corn notes. However the rye holds out before the corny onslaught! Hints of coffee, toffee, brittle spices, honey, demerara sugar and a light herbal note appears.

Finish: Long and mouth-watering. You have got to love that spicy rye nip which keeps the oak and corn in check. Whoa! That’s a bitter finale though!

Conclusion: It maybe a little on the bitter side for some but I loved it! [tasted blind]

Sazerac ‘Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr Small Batch Bourbon’ 50%

Tasted: Nov 2016

The aromas are quite mature and subtle, opening with some slightly herbal rye and delicate spice notes. Lightly toffee’d corn appears along with some restrained, charred oak, dark chocolate, dusty spice, pepper, rose petals, liquorice and almost Cognac-esque dried fruit.

The palate opens with some luscious, subtle treacle and maple syrup along with coffee and chocolate. Bananary corn, gentle oak and hints of wheat flakes follow along with some pleasantly subtle oak and bitter spice. A little rose petal marc note hints at some youth but overall it’s very well balanced. Long, intense and spicy with the oak lingering.

Sazerac ‘Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr Single Barrel Bourbon’ 50%

Tasted: Jan 2013

Nose: Brash, pungent and almost peaty in character. Lots of earthy wheat and manure. Kentucky on Islay? Lightly perfumed orange fruit emerges along with hints of citrus soap. The oak is firmly in the background and the light grains nip. Strangely attractive!

Palate: Soft and slightly leathery with tobacco and lightly coffee’d spices. Relatively corn fat but the nippy rye balances. Again lightly oaked with some earthy wheat.

Finish: Very long with a mouth-watering spicy rye grain finish and a lightly sweet oak finale.

Conclusion: Very interesting. Lovely interplay between the corn, wheat and rye. Lovely spicy/ nippy finish.

Sazerac ‘Col E H Taylor Single Barrel Bourbon’ 50%

Tasted: Jan 2014

Best Bourbon

Nose: Perfumed almonds and herbal butter. Intense if a little soapy with plenty of young herbal rye to balance the butteriness along with a hint of burnt coffee. Thick lumps of treacle-toffee and earthy almost peated notes. Very complex.

Palate: The palate opens with the sweet corn, toasty, slightly burnt sugar and toffee. It moves into burnt toast and toasted caramel. There’s a forest of oak here! But some darkly herbal rye comes through on the middle with some spices too.

Finish: Long and nutty with dark honey, marzipan and lingering herbal rye notes.

Conclusion: Intense and impressive.

Eagle Rare 10 year old Single Barrel 45%

Tasted: Apr 2006

A light, clean and elegant nose of creamy vanilla oak and corn. Soft and succulent fruit is enhanced with a touch of demarara sugar and almond notes. The rye gentle bites and balances. The palate is soft and elegant with a pleasantly restrained sweetness, balanced wonderfully by the rye sharpness. The middle is awash with marzipan and floral notes before a huge blast of peppery spice hits the tongue leaving the toffee and caramel oak to linger. Superb length with a lovely almost honeyed finish along with the caramel oak.

Eagle Rare 10 year old Single Barrel 45%

Re-tasted: Aug 2012

Quite an earthy an intense nose with a relatively youthful bent. Heavy on the oily corn with some lusciously soft and creamy vanilla, but it packs a lovely rye punch too. Although in saying that the corn does dominate somewhat.

The palate opens with the oily vanillins and soft corn. Rich and mouth-filling but balanced by a pleasant rye nip on the middle, although in saying that it’s still rather fat! Quite a polished, easy going and relaxed style of Bourbon with hints of liquorice, earth and violets. Good length, but quite an austere finish as the rye and the bitter oak see to that.

Eagle Rare 10 year old ‘Single Barrel’ 45%

Tasted: Dec 2012

Nose: Soft and subtle. Lightly perfumed honey mingles with sawdusty oak and some deft sugars. The corn is rather juicy and succulent. Very classy and showing with a late pure, creamy vanilla note along with some light spice and dunnage notes.

Palate: Soft and gently sugared corn opens. The corn builds in intensity, shot through with strands of treacle. Wonderfully deep, if a little less complex than the nose suggests but displays some moist, mature dried fruit, dusted with cocoa.

Finish. A seriously peppery finish. A light bitterness from the oak is balanced well by the sugars.

Conclusion: Very classy. Definitely showing some maturity. Dangerously soft and drinkable!

Eagle rare 17 year old (2005 Bottling) 45%             

Tasted: Apr 2006

A blend of Kentucky Corn, Minnesota Rye and North Dakota Malted Barley.

Initially it has a quite fragrant nose, and an almost winey character with a fabulous mix of almonds, pecans, brown sugar and stewed apples – The ideal American breakfast! The body is big and silky and is far spicier than the nose suggests with a superb depth and complexity of maple syrup, vanilla toffee cream, violets, and a very long spicy finish with a hint of old leather.

Eagle Rare 17 year old ( Fall 2011 Bottling) 45%

Tasted: Mar 2012

The nose opens with plenty of rich oak and buzzy rye, black pepper, violets, toffee and a late fat corn note. The rye holds the balance rather well. A drop of water makes the nose seem very youthful and oily and pushes back the rye to reveal some floral wheaty notes.

The palate is mouth puckingly dry, all wood spice, liquorice and alcohol. The oak is strangely subdued but the rye comes shooting through like an arrow. With water it’s a bit disappointing to be honest, like the nose it seems pretty young with some marc-like notes. Good length, given the intensity of alcohol with marzipan and toasted oak.

George T Stagg 72.4% (144.8 proof)

A blend of Kentucky Corn, Minnesota Rye and North Dakota Malted Barley

Tasted: Feb 2007

An eye watering hit of menthol and alcohol! Crisp rye spices buzz amidst the ultra clean vanilla oak, whilst the fat corn sets a base of fat cotton candy. Monstrously enveloping with hints of dried fruit, liquorice, tobacco, earth, coffee and a touch of violets. All the while the vanilla oak builds and sweetens. Pure and unadulterated, concentrated, young, powerful, complex and continually evolving. This is the hit of real bourbon!

A nuclear blast of menthol hits the tongue. The piquant alcohol almost immediately anesthetises the tongue! Oily rye grains ratchet up the crispness, whilst its youthfulness is displayed with a distinct rose petal note. Earthy and intense, maybe slightly medicinal the hit is undeniably s rampant stagg! Just like the nose the cotton candy like corn creates a solid base, shot through with hints of liquorice. The oak is omnipresent in its pure vanilla form but the balance is never swayed into the oak zone, well the alcohol see’s to that if nothing else! Amazing length – dry almost dusty spices linger and the oak fades into a gentle bitterness and the mouth continues to tingle for a good 5 minutes or so afterwards.

A drop of water sweetens the nose. The oak has become more generous and hints of crystalised orange are released. The palate has become the epitome of silkiness now. Rye and corn are in total harmony. Even water can’t diminish the controlled rawness of the spirit. If you need to blow the cobwebs away then have a dram of this.

George T. Stagg (2012 Bottling) 71.4%

Tasted: Dec 2012

Nose: Eye wateringly pungent, opening with a nuclear blast of camphor and menthol along with some huge, rampaging lightly singed coffee grains, cocoa and juicy sun ripened and dried cherry fruit. A seriously monolithic nose! The oak is so luscious and silky adding a touch of sawdust and naturally sweet caramel. Stunningly complex and lightly perfumed. Dilution makes no impact upon its pungent herbal character, but it has released some warming spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove along with some lightly oiled, lightly bitter coffee coated rose petal marc.

Palate: Intensely dry, alcoholic and peppery. The alcohol is so intense it’s removing the skin from the inside of my mouth! Huge spices go head to head with dense, chunky oak. The clarity of the rye spices is sublime. Interwoven are slivers of thick treacle, earth, dark chocolate and gritty tannins. Water makes it less eye watering! But it’s still so dense you could cut the flavours with a knife! Lush coffee mingles with juicy dried Cognac-esque fruit, demerera and tongue tingling spices. Damn that’s good!

Finish: Hot, hot, hot and spicy! Buckets of rose petal marc, violets and earthy coffee grains. Finally some lightly creamy oak arrives. Water lengths and takes the heat out of it so that it’s almost gentle showing the sublime clarity of the hickory led spices.

Conclusion: Damn this is hard-core. Neat it takes no prisoners, diluted it’s a pussycat………… well almost!

Buffalo Trace George T. Stagg 71.4%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2013

Nose: A huge hit of roasted coffee beans up first followed by intense, spicy rye and oak. Hints of corn, light treacle and an almost peaty-earthiness with the sugars offering a beautiful balance. Stunning intensity and concentration. A drop of water increases the elegance and depth.

Palate: Intense and eye-wateringly alcoholic! Huge peppery rye explodes into shards of cocoa, liquorice, tar, treacle, mentholated herbs and dark corn. The alcohol and flavours hit the tongue like a speeding train! A drop of water brings out the sweetness, giving the palate more depth and also allowing the oak to have more of an impact.

Finish: Very long and spicy with a hint of sweet rose petal marc in the finish. Water lengthens and mellows, slightly!

Conclusion: Stunning. This is the business!

Buffalo Trace Stagg Junior 67.2%

Tasted: May 2014

An intense and herbal. Sharp, spicy rye grains collide with the coffee/caramel corn. Hints of black pepper, vanilla and gritty tannins, but the over riding sensation is the young rye and alcohol! Quite dry with tar, menthol, diesel and did I mention the dry spice overload?

The palate opens with dark cola and treacle, followed by intense herbal rye. The alcohol holds the oak and fitness back which stops them adding some sweetness to balance the earthy, gritty, dark bitter chocolate dryness. The oily, herbal rye returns on the finish but the grainy coffee holds. Water emphasises the youthfulness and green, herbal rye. Even the spices have a green-ness! The corn has exited stage left, although a touch of toasted caramel oak lingers just beneath the surface. The palate is a little softer, but its still very grainy and tannic. The herbal rye still cuts through with the big spices. It definitely has the power of the Stagg but not quite the complexity or the sweetness, but in saying that you have to love the rawness!

Hancock’s President’s Reserve 44.45%

Single Barrel Bourbon by Buffalo Trace

Tasted: Oct 2012

Now this has a lovely nose. Plenty of aged, rich, spicy Rye with a profusion of violet notes. As this doesn’t have an age statement I would guess that the spirit is somewhere in the 12-15 year old range. The corn underpins the rye with an almost barley-like richness. As it warms up the mature oak arrives with hints of leather, polished oak and a touch of sawdust.

The palate leads off with the rich oak vanillins and more of the fat corn. The rye adds a lovely balancing spiciness but the oak bitters quite hard on the middle and really dries it out. There’s also a slight mature Stilton cheesy note on the finish which could be from some rogue bacteria, which isn’t as bad as it sounds because it sort of adds to the funkiness! ( Note – This was the last one of the evening, so make of that what you will!). So in conclusion – a lovely start, a rather old bitter middle and a stinky sock finish! Is that a metaphor for life? Hmm!!

Hancock’s Presidents Reserve 44.45%

Single Barrel, high rye content Bourbon distilled at Buffalo Trace.

Tasted: July 2013

An expansive, full on earthy/ spicy rye nose with hints of creamy corn and almost ‘French oak’ vanillins. A superb nose, filled with blackcurrant, violets, wood smoke and roasted meat, and not forgetting the huge dollops of spicy rye! And spicy oak! With time a light, herbal spirit note appears along with a touch of orange and apricot.

The palate is quite soft, opening with the sweet corn and oak with some gentle, building rye and wood spices. Less complex (by a country mile!) than the nose but the rye comes through pleasantly. Mouth-watering, tongue tingling middle, showing a touch of herbal spirit. Reasonable length, but the oak bitters out the finish, but leaves notes of cocoa, dark chocolate and a touch of liquorice. Quite a light treacle and vanilla sweet after-taste.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year old 53.5%

Btl No. K746/ Tasted: Apr 2013

A high toned nose of lightly toasted caramel corn with hints of earth, wheat and spicy, violety rye. The oak is of the chunky persuasion and attempts to dominate but the edgy rye spice intervenes.

Quite full on the palate yet very spicy opening with the crisp rye followed by some hickory and toasty oak. Very intensely bitter on the middle. Some sweet corn challenges the oak but it’s on a hiding to nothing here! Old, dried out and woody!

Rock Hill Farms 50%

Single Barrel Bourbon distilled at Buffalo Trace.

Tasted: July 2013

A subtle if floral nose of violet and white flowers with plenty of creamy, toffee’d oak and corn. There’s a touch of dried fruit, lightly roasted coffee and rye spices. Quite a thick nose which becomes exceedingly perfumed with time and lightly herbal as well.

The palate is quite rich and subtle, or subdued? Again fairly straightforward with creamy corn and oak. Hints of marzipan and light rye spices appear on the middle. Good mouth-watering finish as the alcohol and rye spices begin to assert themselves. The oak bitters the finish and leaves a touch of earth, tobacco and leather on the finish.


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