I got a sample from Israeli/American friend Shai a while ago but I didn’t get around to tasting it until recently. I know this is how a lot of my posts start but in this case I really wanted to try it, but I kept hoping for another bottle to pop up somewhere so it was comparable.
The Single Oak Project needs to be compared, I think. The project, which tries to identify the DNA of bourbon a little bit consists of I believe 192 different barrels of bourbon, each of which plays a variation on some of the 7 parameters they focused on. These are Top half/Bottom half, rye or wheat, high or low filling proof, warehouse location, two different locations of trees, charring level of the cask and the seasoning time of the wood before being made into a barrel.
Buffalo Trace did get some flack for the price of these bottles, since the bottles are only 375ml and still cost $50. Compared to the only ones I saw available in Europe that still is a a steal, since the one batch I saw here cost, if I recall correctly, around $160.
Anyway, batch 89, from their tenth release cycle is a Rye bourbon, 105 entry proof (52.5%), matured in a wooden rickhouse, level 12 seasoning (?), #3 char (which is a pretty heavy char) and the barrel is made from the top half of the tree.
It starts rather crisp with some caramel and no overly sweet notes. It shows a hint of red forest fruits (strawberries, raspberries and such) and gets rather earthy after that. Autumn leaves, dried apples. It’s light but it also does have a strange hint of cardboard.
Again, light and sweet with a minor spicy note. Slightly thin but the spicy notes do build up to show some strength. Quite dry too, but still not very rich.
The finish is better with some red chili peppers (the pulp, not the seeds or skin). Sweet with oak, leaves and fruit syrup.
I’m not a fan. I saw some positive reviews of this batch, but I can’t shake the idea that the regular Buffalo Trace whisky is a little bit bigger and has more depth. I am extra happy I didn’t buy the over-priced bottle that was available in Europe, since I had really high hopes and thought it might just be worth it. It would not have been.
Anyway, I do still like the idea of the project, but I think by making the price too high, even in the United States, it’s kind of prohibitive to try each and every one of the 192 bottles. I can’t imagine spending $ 9600 over the course of a couple of years on only one brand of bourbon. Of course, this range is so popular that Buffalo Trace doesn’t really have to worry about this.
Also, my main concern would be that, in the end, 192 slightly varying whiskeys would be just too much of a good thing. At some point you’re going to lose track of all variants, which were good and which were not and so on. I guess it would have been nice if they would have just done a dozen, and stuck to less variables.
Still, thanks to Shai for sending me this! Loved to try it!
Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project #89, 45%