Review: Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Bourbon Round Three

We’re now 36 whiskeys into the 192 to be produced as part of Buffalo Trace’s Single Oak Project. Check out our coverage of Round One and Round Two to catch up if you’re unsure what this series of very limited-release Bourbons is all about.

How does this round measure up? This time, all of the whiskeys were aged in concrete warehouses, in #4 char barrels with 6 months of seasoning (or air drying), and in barrels made from the bottom half of the tree. What differs this round: The rye vs. wheat mashbill, the entry proof (how hot the whiskey is when it goes into the barrel — either 105 or 125 proof), and the tightness of the wood grain). It’s the first time in the project that entry proof has been altered during a testing round.

Away we go with the testing! All were tasted blind, and the provenance information is added afterward. All Bourbons are again 90 proof.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #8 – A really solid entry, heavier on the spicy character than most of the round. Good balance, with more of a sugar-forward character than the otherwise similar barrel #167. A close second place to that barrel. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #24 – Hot, tastes like an overproof Bourbon. Not getting much character out of this, just some light grain characteristics. It’s like the wood just didn’t give up its essence in the service of this whiskey. C+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #40 – Good all-around balance here: Sweet nougat character plus spicy notes, but the finish veers toward the spice. The body’s a touch on the thin side. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #56 – An odd finish mars this Bourbon. Terribly ard to place, it tastes a bit like coconut, banana, and rubber. Intriguing due to its tropical uniqueness, it comes across like a “world whiskey” instead of Bourbon — and something wholly unlike any of the other whiskeys in this collection… for better or for worse. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #72 – Caramel apples here, bit of bite on the finish, but otherwise relatively unremarkable. B (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #88 – Sweet and traditional, but with a hard edge to it, a kind of bitter finish that mars a promising start. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #104 – Smooth, quite sweet. Lots of caramel on this one, with a distinct vanilla kick. One for the sweet tooths, but not a lot of nuance. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #120 – Distinct mint notes are prominent in this one, another “big” and moderately woody whiskey that carries with it a surprisingly sweet finish. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #136 – The mild nose is misleading: The whiskey beneath the surface is racy and literally overflowing with spiciness and a lush, wood kick. Fans of big rye whiskeys are going to enjoy this one, but traditionalists may find it too overpowering. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #152 – A smooth operator. Classic vanilla/caramel body, very mild. A touch of menthol in the finish, but it’s fleeting, a bit like an Andes mint after a creme caramel dessert. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #167 – Great balance here, love the intense caramel and vanilla notes and just a hint of cinnamon to give it depth. Incredibly rich, this is probably my favorite whiskey in this batch. A (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #184 – Heavy apple character here, moderate wood influence. The balance is imperfect, though, with a somewhat hard edge to the finish. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

What did we learn this time around? In no round did a lower-entry-proof whiskey outscore the higher-entry-proof whiskey, which is not surprising. Water simply doesn’t age as well as alcohol in wood: When you drink a whiskey with a lower entry proof you’re really drinking more wood-flavored water than actual Bourbon. Once again there were good ryes and good wheated whiskeys — and the wood grain didn’t seem to be a major factor in this batch.

For the record, Buffalo Trace says that the favorite barrels (based on ratings on the website) from the first 24 released are numbers 61 and 127, both wheated Bourbons with wood from the top half of their respective trees (and both from round two). Neither of those were standouts in my earlier reviews.

$46 each (375ml bottle) / singleoakproject.com

Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project  Review: Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Bourbon Round Three

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3 Responses to Review: Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Bourbon Round Three

  1. Pingback: Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project – Round 3 - Scotch & Ice Cream

  2. Picked up a bottle from Barrel #184. Disappointing, somewhat raw undertones with an unsurprising harsh finish.

  3. Surprised you’re still finding #184, which came out 2 years ago, on the market…

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