3 Levels of Wheated Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Announces New Experimental Release

TLDR: Buffalo Trace aged 5 barrels of their wheated mash bill for 12 years on floors 1, 5 and 9 and is releasing each floor under the Experimental Collection. See my tasting notes below.

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FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Dec. 9, 2014) Earlier this year, Buffalo Trace Distillery released an experiment consisting of barrels aged for the same length of time on different floors in the same warehouse.  The experiment was met with great interest, as many bourbon connoisseurs are thirsty for knowledge about how atmosphere affects the taste of their favorite spirit.

Buffalo Trace continues that experiment, this time using wheated bourbon instead of the rye bourbon mash bill used in the previous experiment.

The Warehouse Floors Experiment was started in 2001, when Buffalo Trace filled 15 barrels with their Wheat Bourbon Mash Bill and placed five barrels on floors one, five, and nine of Warehouse K. This brick warehouse has nine wooden floors in total and was chosen for this experiment due to the variety of tastes it provides during the aging process. Here’s how the experiment panned out:

The barrels aged on the first floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a mild nose and hints of vanilla. The flavor is described as sweet with slight caramel and butterscotch notes. The body is said to be mild with an easy and approachable palate.

Barrels aged on the fifth floor of Warehouse K yielded a bourbon with an aroma full of herbal notes and a mouth full of savory flavors and cooked cinnamon and clove balanced with caramel and butterscotch. The finish is smooth and balanced.

The ninth floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a rich and delightful aroma of charred oak.  The initial flavor fills the mouth with toasted almonds and walnuts. The mouth feel is medium bodied with a dry finish.

“This experiment was an interesting comparison to our rye bourbon warehouse floors experiment, especially since both were aged in the same warehouse and on the same floors, said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “As with the rye bourbon experiment, the higher floors yielded a different taste profile than the lower floors, giving us a richer and full bodied taste. Also, we noticed a higher evaporation rate on the wheat recipe experiment vs the rye bourbon recipe experiment.  The wheat evaporated between 42-51% over the twelve years, depending on what floor the barrel was aged.  The rye experiment evaporated between 25-49% over the twelve years, with significantly less on the lower floors.  This higher evaporation rate is expected in wheated recipes, but it’s interesting to see it up close with the rye experiment.”

These barrels are part of the more than 2,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each of them has unique characteristics that differentiate them from all others. Some examples of experiments include unique mash bills, type of wood, and barrel toasts. In order to further increase the scope, flexibility and range of the experimental program, an entire micro distillery, named The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. “OFC” Micro Distillery, complete with cookers, fermenting tanks, and a state-of-the-art micro still has been constructed within Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace has increased its commitment to experimentation with the recent addition of its Warehouse X. Although small in size, Warehouse X is designed to explore the limits of environmental influences on the quality of whiskey.

These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each.

For a bourbon nerd like myself these are the kind of “experiments” I love. It let’s you taste the difference 40-80 feet can make in a bourbons flavor profile. You can taste how small changes in a barrels environment over an extended period of time can have noticable effects on a bourbon. It also gives you a greater appreciation for a master distiller that is able to release a consistent product and flavor profile.

Wheated Bourbon 3 Floor Tasting:

1st floor

Nose: Caramel, cherry, fruity, toffee nut

Taste: Soft fruit note, vanilla and caramel

Finish: Great finish. Smooth, fruity and burnt sugar

5th floor

Nose: Similar nose but more warm spice like cinnamon or dark brown sugar. More of a woody than nutty note

Taste: Brown sugar, wood,

Finish: Syrupy finish with a little bit of cinnamon apple

9th floor

Nose: Cherry cinnamon brown sugar but a little more heat

Taste: More wood, more tannic than sweet but still has the fruity and brown sugar taste

Finish: Hotter on the finish.

Overall: There are some definite differences by floor but not as much as I originally thought. I guess I should be surprised there’s a difference at all since all 3 are the same mash bill and age and only separated by a few feet. The fifth floor was my favorite. It had great cinnamon and toffee notes.

Drinking W.L. Weller 12 from 3 different levels of the warehouse is a great experiment but since you’re paying a premium for them I suggest finding a couple other people and splitting the bottles.



    Blake, do you know when these wheated bourbons will be released for sale? Is it limited release like Pappy or will they be readily available in the beginning?

    Hi Christian,

    Yes, they should start showing up in some states this month and continue in to January. Since there’s only 15 barrels (around 4,400 bottles) it’s very limited but not nearly as hyped as Pappy. I’d talk with your local store about ordering them and wouldn’t pass them up if you see them on a shelf

    How do we get some out here in San Diego California it’s not fair that we don’t get to enjoy the taste of these new bourbons and whiskeys out on the West Coast there only sold mainly on the East Coast I would really like to find out how I can get some of these awesome sales that they have pleasegive me some insight on how to do this thank you for your time

    Talk to your retailer. San Diego stores will get just as much good bourbon as the East Coast all limited releases are just harder to find now

    Its “experiments” like these, as well as an abundance of fine drinking options, that keeps BT at the top of my distillery list. May they never lose their love of the craft.

    I had one of the BT Experimentals earlier this fall. It was also wheated, but the difference in bottles was the entry proof. I had the Wheat 115 with entry proof of 115 and bottle proof of 45%. Aged almost 12yrs with 73% evaporation. I was hoping that the high evaporation level would lead to more complexity. However, what I found was an overwhelmingly oak heavy drink from start to finish. I wanted to try the other one, but didn’t want to gamble the money for another experiment. Did you get a chance to try any of the other entry proof experiments? I’m curious as to what the differences were.

    I was lucky enough to try floors 5 and 9 this weekend back to back and I was surprised how much of a difference there was. I want to find floor 1 and do it again! It still amazes me that were a barrel sits can make that much of a difference in flavor profile.

    Hello Everyone ! I was out and about today looking for some WL Weller that I use to get for $23.00 but Now it’s $129.00 and I must say that piss’s me off, that sed, I came across a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15yo and a bottle of Van Winkle 12yo, I held them both in my hand, no sh*t !! first time ever and although I have been looking for Pappy 15yo for years this was a first, now I hope yall are sitting down the 15yo was marked at $1199.99 and the 12yo was $599.99 I dam near wet my self, I’m 71yo and I dont have that kind of money and if I did I wouldnt have gotten them, I mean, think about it, would You open them up and have a sip ???? at that price tag ???? … hummm, kind of takes the joy out of it. I love drinking bourbon not having it locked up behind glass to show people, “Hey look what I got” Please let me know what you think ??? and by the way I didnt find any WL Weller.

    Sorry to be so long winded but I had to tell some one lol ….. Take Care. Drifter

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