The 2018 release of the Experimental Collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery sought to gauge the difference between two bourbons aged for nearly eight years in barrels made of staves that were seasoned for three and four years. The bourbon industry’s average drying time is 3-4 months, and Buffalo Trace Distillery seasons their staves for 6 months normally. These experimental bourbons, put away to age on October 27, 2009, were aged in new barrels with staves seasoned (air-dried) for more than 6x and 8x the normal Buffalo Trace Distillery drying time. With just slight variations between the two in regards to taste, the bourbons will be sold in a two-pack case so consumers can evaluate the two and compare taste differences for themselves.
This experiment tested the impact of stave drying time as the oak dried for six times as long as the average. The result of this 9-year-old bourbon is a dry, wood-forward taste with oak notes and caramel hints present. A bit more flavorful than its 48-month stave seasoned counterpart. This experiment was bottled at 90 proof.
This version of our stave-seasoned experiment took the drying of the oak to an extreme as the staves air-dried for 48 months. While this whiskey is not as well balanced as the 36-month seasoned bourbon, the taste is more mellow with a slightly richer nose and holds more flavor from the wood. This experiment was bottled at 90 proof.