Buffalo Trace Background
Buffalo Trace is the namesake brand of the Buffalo Trace Distillery, which was formerly called the George T Stagg Distillery. The name Buffalo Trace is a reference to paths created by buffalo. Early pioneers followed these paths as they explored westward and such a path is said to have led to the current location of the distillery. Hancock Lee is credited as the first to distill near this site, and Buffalo Trace makes a Bourbon with his namesake call Hancock’s President’s Reserve.
While not the most famous nor sought after Bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery, Buffalo Trace is the flagship brand chosen to share the name of the renamed distillery. Buffalo Trace was a collaboration effort from within the distillery from the flavor of the blended Bourbons to the bottle design. Current and legacy employees were brought in to help define the flavor profile, which is largely chosen from barrels within the middle tiers of the warehouses. Each new batch is ages about 8 years and made of about 40 or so barrels that are referenced back to the original.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a part of Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #1. Mash bill #1 is a low rye recipe and thought to be less than 10%. Other notable Bourbons with this recipe is George T Stagg, Eagle Rare 10 Year, and the Colonel EH Taylor line of Bourbons.
No Age statement Bottled at 45%. Uses Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 which is less than 10% rye. MSRP – $24.99 (2016 Price)
Fruity, pears. Corn flakes. Caramel. Some nail polish remover. Mild Oak. Smells light and sweet.
Some harsh alcohols at the front end and again on the finish. Fruity, real nice sweetness. Light oak with a little char. Nice caramel and vanilla carries through the finish. Flavorful.
Buffalo Trace is a flavorful pour that for me is borderline really nice and fruity vs harsh fusel alcohols. Nice caramel flavors and mild barrel characteristics. Despite my issue with the acetone flavors there’s a lot to like here. A little water knocks down the rough edges enough for me and brings out more sweetness, but overall I think water hurts the drink.
Nice Bourbon, but the harshness hurts it for me. I’m admittedly more sensitive to the rough alcohols, so your mileage may vary, but it’s there. I certainly have no problem enjoying Buffalo Trace, but when it comes to pull down a bottle for a glass, I usually opt for something else. Price is pretty good on this, so no complaints there and I think this packs a lot of flavor compared to a number of Bourbon’s at this shelf level.
Interestingly, I’ve tried some private barrel picks and samples that I’ve really enjoyed. A single barrel may simply have less of that acetone I’m not liking. Or maybe simply I just prefer some of the barrels typically go into making a batch.
I would compare this with Eagle Rare 10 since it’s the same low-rye Mash #1 recipe out of Buffalo Trace and ballpark in price. Eagle Rare 10 to me is more enjoyable. Similar, I think, but the harshness isn’t there and as expected a little more barrel character. I would pick Eagle Rare 10 overall between the two and I think it’s worth the extra few bucks, but don’t stop that from at least trying Buffalo Trace.
Buffalo Trace Recommendation
Try a Glass – 2.5/5 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)
Buying Options and Further Research
This is a low rye Bourbon so there aren’t too many options available. If you can’t find this on the shelf or want to check out similar Bourbons, you’ll want to largely look at Bourbons made from Buffalo Trace’s Mash #1. In this price range, Eagle Rare 10 is a good bet. With a little more rye you could look at Wild Turkey 101 and progressively for a few bucks more check out Bowman Brothers Small Batch, Evan Williams Single Barrel, or Elmer T Lee.