People who enjoy drinking wine usually have a variety they prefer. Most whiskey drinkers have the same preference because they may only like a particular brand or type of whiskey. If you enjoy bourbon, then you may enjoy Buffalo Trace (BT) bourbon, but there are many other types of whiskeys to explore.
Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting grain, distilling the liquid, and then aging it in oak barrels. Several types of whiskeys exist, though it is important to understand their distinctions. Whiskey has three compositions, and they are single malt, grain, or blended whiskeys.
A single malt whiskey refers to a whiskey from only one distillery, and it contains only one malted grain, which is usually barley. So, if you buy a bottle of Macallan’s, then you’re buying a single malt Scotch whisky from the Macallan distillery. Oh, and Scots even spell whiskey differently. They spell it without an ‘e,’ so it is whisk
Grain whiskey is made from grains like rye, barley (not malted), wheat or corn, but sometimes they are made with a blend of these grains. While single malt and blended whiskey are amongst the best sellers in the industry, grain whiskeys are becoming more popular.
Blended whiskeys are a combination of a single malt whiskey and other types of grain whiskeys. Some distilleries that make single malt whiskey may buy grain whiskeys from other companies to blend with their own, and then bottle and sell it. Some whiskey makers do not produce any whiskey, they only buy them from different distilleries, blend them, and then sell it under their label.
Whiskeys are also distinguished by the country in which they are made. The types include:
Whiskey is made all over the world, including the United States, Canada, and India. However, the US leads in the production of this spirit.
What is Buffalo Trace and How does it Work?
It is a Straight Bourbon Whiskey from a distillery in Kentucky. As mentioned previously, for a bourbon to be a whiskey, it needs to include at least 51 percent corn. Also, a Straight Bourbon Whiskey must age in a new charred white oak barrel. After bottling the bourbon, the white oak barrels may be sent to Mexico to age tequila or Scotland to age scotch.
The BT distillery has been making bourbon for 200 years in Franklin County, Kentucky. The name of the distillery comes from the buffalo that were once in the area, crossing the river near where their buildings now set.
It is the oldest distillery in the United States whose operations were able to continue without interruption through Prohibition. The company was permitted to keep operating to produce whiskey for “medicinal purposes.” The 130-acre complex houses four generations of buildings, all of which still contain some of the operations of the distillery.
It is just one of many bourbon distilleries in the Frankfort area, which also includes Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey, among many others. The bourbon industry is so prevalent in the area that approximately 8.1 million barrels are aging in local warehouses, which is about two barrels for every person in the state.
Other Bourbon Labels
Aside from being sold under the BT label, the distillery also has other whiskeys that they bottle and sale. Since they are a bourbon distillery, most of the other labels they sell are also bourbons. Under the name ‘Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain’ is a BiB or Bottled-in-Bond bourbon.
To qualify as a BiB, the whiskey must be from one distillation season from one distillery and one distiller. Also, it ages no less than four years in a federally bonded warehouse under the supervision of the US government. When they bottle it, it must be precisely 100 proof.
Another BiB label they have is ‘Colonel E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood.’ Colonel E.H. Taylor was the founder of the O.F.C. (Old Fire Copper) Distillery and was instrumental in starting many of the distilleries in the area. The O.F.C. Distillery eventually became part of the BT distillery.
The distillery also releases a series of whiskeys every year under the ‘Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.’ It consists of five bottles of whiskey:
These are high-end whiskeys as some of them undergo aging for 17 or 18 years. The distillery also distills rye and bourbon for the Sazerac Company, which is one of the largest spirits companies in the US.
What Makes Buffalo Trace Unique?
It is a Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which means it not only contains at least 51 percent corn, but they store the bourbon in brand new charred white oak barrels. Along with corn in their whiskey, the company also includes rye and barley malt.
The aging process, which takes several years, changes the color of the bourbon and extracts the flavors of the wood. The taste of BT has hints of vanilla, toffee, and mixed fruit. The barrels for whiskey are made from white oak, or Quercus Alba, which is “American Oak,” because it grows in the US.
When making straight bourbon, the oak barrels only get one use then they are often shipped to other spirit makers to age tequila or scotch. They may also go to maple syrup producers, beer makers, or to companies who need them to store coffee or tobacco. The bourbon flavor often transfers to the new product giving it a unique taste.
Bourbon making is a competitive business in the state of Kentucky. Approximately 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is made there. However, BT has been able to best their competition many times and has numerous awards to show for it.
They have won many gold and double gold medals at events like the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. Some of the awards have been won multiple times, like the competition in SF.
Good whiskeys are not cheap, especially single malt whiskey. However, the price will depend on the size of the bottle that you’re buying, the age of the whiskey and where you’re buying it. BT is available in 375 and 750-milliliter bottles, as well as a 1.75-liter bottle.
It is a small batch whiskey, which means they only batch 40 barrels of the whiskey at a time. The barrels also undergo aging for eight to 10 years. This process can also drive up the price, but for a small batch bourbon that has an excellent reputation, its price is very reasonable. However, there can be limits on how much consumers can buy because of its popularity and availability.
If you order it online, you can find a 375ml bottle for as little as $14.99. This site also sells the 750ml bottle for $23.99 and the 1.75L for $44.99. Some other websites have it ranging in price from $9.99 to $70 a bottle depending on its size.
Public Perception (Other Buffalo Trace Reviews)
In general, the perception about this bourbon is very good. Many of the sites reviewing it give it favorable reviews, with some choosing it as their pick for the best bourbon. For people who are into drinking whiskey, especially bourbon, they also score it four or five stars.
Some drinkers compare this bourbon to one of its main competitors in the region, Maker’s Mark. The two brands are both straight bourbons that are not only comparable in price but public opinion as well. Many drinkers of both have said that BT is not only similar to Maker’s Mark, but it is better in some ways.
It picks up the sweetness of the wood sugars from the white oak barrels from which the bourbon ages. It is notable for its aromas of vanilla, honey, and caramel. Its taste is smooth according to most drinkers, with flavors of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee. The review site BreakingBourbon.com, who makes a note of its aromas and taste, gives it three barrels out of five.
The reviews from drinkers of the bourbon on sites like Drizly.com give this brand high praise. It is a “Staff Pick” on the site and reviewers have given it an overall score of 4.73 stars out of five. Many who drink it call it there “go to” bourbon and recommend it for others to try. Only one reviewer gave it a bad rating of two stars but said it was fine for mixed drinks.
Flavair.com gave BT a solid 7.9 out of 10 stars, with most of the reviews saying that it was a great choice, especially for the price. A couple of the reviewers also said it was better than other bourbons they tried at twice the price and that it was their “go to” bourbon.
The website GearPatrol.com names it as the best all-around bourbon on their list of the 15 Best Bourbons that You can Buy in 2018. Other sites that review it give the same or similar opinions.
How it Compares
Buffalo Trace certainly has many competitors to pick from in the Frankfort, KY area, but being a Straight Bourbon Whiskey helps to narrow the field. Some of their straight bourbon competitors are:
While there are many other brands, these four are among the best-known straight bourbons. Many bourbon drinkers compare BT to Maker’s Mark, with many of them preferring BT. The pricing for the two bourbons is about the same, starting at $13.49, and they are made similarly as they are both straight bourbons.
Some drinkers who have had both bourbons think that BT tastes just like Jim Beam Black. The pricing for Jim Beam is higher at $16.99 to $39.99, depending on where you buy it. Since it is a more well-known brand, it is more readily available, which helps keep the price down for the larger bottles.
Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and BT always seem to get a mention in articles regarding which bourbons to try. Four Roses and Wild Turkey are well-known within the industry, and Wild Turkey is one of the largest whiskey companies in the world.
As far as pricing, Four Roses are in the same price range as it starts at $13.99 for a smaller bottle to $44.99 and Wild Turkey can be as well, but its regular product can be less expensive as it ranges from $10.99 to $35.99
What We Think
If you enjoy drinking bourbon or using it to mix cocktails, then BT is at least worth trying. It has won several awards, and many drinkers consider it one of the best bourbons to drink, especially at its price range. It is comparable to many of the better-known bourbons within the industry, such as Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam.
It is a smooth tasting affordable Straight Bourbon Whiskey that anyone can afford to buy and enjoy after a meal or when enjoying the company of friends. While many people drink it neat, it can also go into a mix with cola or as any other cocktail drink that you want to serve at a barbeque or party.
This bourbon can be difficult to find as it is often sold in limited quantities as it is a small batch whiskey. The distillery only bottles 40 barrels at a time, so you should buy it when it is available at a local store. If you’re not sure what to buy a bourbon drinker for the holidays, then a bottle of Buffalo Trace can be a great gift, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the brand but loves bourbon.