Buffalo Trace Distillery Bourbon Mash Bills

Buffalo Trace Distillery Mash Bills

A break down of the majority of the Buffalo Trace distillery Bourbons and Ryes by their mash bill

Buffalo Trace uses two primary mash bills. While they don’t disclose the exact recipe Bourbonr’s much wiser than I have made educated guesses at the mash bill percentages.  Mash bill # 1 is probably 10% or less and mash bill #2 is somewhere between 10%-12%. Mash bill number two with 10-12% rye is a more common rye content for bourbons.

The Wheated Bourbon mash bill is a mystery as well. However, the rye portion (and maybe more) is replaced by wheat. This creates a very different flavor profile than the Rye. I also believe that Wheated Bourbons handle (even need) aging much better than Bourbons that have rye in the mash bill.

Yes, Pappy Van Winkle is now Buffalo Trace and no longer Stitzel-Weller juice. For the 2013 release only the 23 year old is Stitzel-Weller. Most believe that Buffalo Trace is using their standard wheated mash for Pappy Van Winkle. Buffalo Trace has confirmed that they are in fact the same Mash Bill

The rye mash bill is thought to be 51% rye. Just enough to be legally considered rye whiskey but still enough corn to bring out the familiar taste of Bourbon. These are much different ryes than the currently popular high (some up to 95%) rye whiskies. Also, the current Sazerac 18 may not have the exact same mash as Handy or the Baby Sazerac (rumored to be Medley or Berheim) but they are similar.

Mash Bill break down

 

The point of this post is to show how much of a difference small factors in aging affect a Bourbons taste. By simply aging in a different store house two Bourbons that entered the barrel with the same mash bill and same proof can exit the barrel as completely different Bourbons in both taste and proof.

Also, try tasting Bourbons from the same mash bill side by side to see if you can pick up on the differences as well as the similarities.

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36 comments

    Mash bills are all over the map and sometimes will depend upon the price of various grains and their starch content since starch conversion to sugar to alcohol is what makes up the cost. It costs as much energy and labor to make a proof gallon of alcohol with starch at 60% as it does with starch at 70%. But the overall cost is more for the lower starch grain. Yield is god in the distilling business. Corn has approximately 75% more starch then either rye or wheat. Wheat and rye cost as much as double that of corn. So, most current bourbons use 72-75% corn, 15-20% rye or wheat and the balance malted barley. Malted barley costs twice what either rye or wheat cost. And wheat needs more malt since it is low in natural enzymes that covert starch to sugar.
    Aging certainly makes the most difference. You could use the same mash bill and age one barrel on the first floor of a brick unheated warehouse and take another barrel and age it in the top row of a metal warehouse and you would have two completely different products. One product might not be better than the other but they would taste differently.
    What is interesting is that expensive scotches are aged in 15 years or so and so the bourbon marketing guys thought that would be a great way to up the price on bourbon-by aging it longer. However, the temperature swing in Scotland is between 40 and 80 degrees and the swing in Kentucky is between 15 and 100 degrees, hotter in the warehouse. In other words, take a scotch new fill and age it in Kentucky and you will produce the same flavor profile in Kentucky in 4 years as you will in Scotland in 12 years. A 12 year old bourbon aged in a metal warehouse in Kentucky will need some serious filtration before bottling, either chill filtration of carbon treatment. Both take both color and flavor out of the product. I would love to see Pappy produce and market and unfiltered 15 year old product. It would be cloudy, woody, but deep in color. Flavor would be intense if not pleasant. But they could sell it for $150 a bottle thru the first channel since it would get incredible hype. The bourbon in group would have to have a bottle.

    What a horrible thing to say to someone that put in some effort to help enlighten people a bit about bourbon. And this would ‘read’ as though it were written by a child, rather than ‘sound’ like it. That is, if it was written as poorly as your comment, which it certainly is not. Good job Blake! And thanks for this.

    Your comment provides no factual basis for your objection, and certainly no evidence of your being “appreciative.” Your comments are disagreeable and unnessarily unkind, serving no useful purpose. If you must write, please use courtesy and professionalism and share something that adds to the discussion.

    Great chart! I’ve looked around and not seen this separation done visually before. Thanks for putting this out.
    Are all 5 Van Winkle products made from the same wheated mashbill? Is this, as of now, the same mashbill for all VW and Weller products?

    Glad you like it! Yes, all Pappy/Van Winkles and Wellers are from the same mashbill. In 2013 Pappy 23 was from a different distillery but most likely the same or similar mashbill. Crazy how they can still taste so different

    You missed Very Old Barton
    Don’t care for the 86 proof version
    But I love Eagle Rare so I am curious if it is #1 or #2

    Very Old Barton is made at the Barton 1792 Distillery, not Buffalo Trace. They’re both owned by the Sazerac Company, which is why you might have thought they were from the same place, but they’re separate distilleries, with separate mashbills.

    Thanks. You did a fine job, writing and with the chart.

    I like Bourbon, I cannot lie. I drink Ancient Age when I want something cheap. I like Weller Reserve, Makers, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Small Batch, Bulliet, Knob Creek and others. I even like the ones made at that old Seagrams plant in Indiana – but I avoid them because they are not made in Kentucky . . .

    Who’s to say that there aren’t many more controllable variables other than the mashbills and, that BT does not utilize those variables in the distilling of different labels?
    They can change the proof off the still … change the heads and tails cuts .. vary the time in the fermentation process ..
    I don’t know the art … but it seems there are many more variables … including storage options and age.

    You’re completely right. There are a lot of other variables that can be used to affect the taste. However, with such a large scale operation as BT my guess is it’s all systematized. Things like heads and tail cuts may vary by distillery but I’d guess they wouldn’t change by mash bill

    “You will produce the same flavors in 4 years in KY that where it takes 12 years in Scotland”. That is completely ridiculous. Why would you put this silliness in people’s heads?

    It’s not completely accurate but there is some truth there. Temperature swings and new barrels allow KY bourbon to age much faster

    I really enjoy reading all your postings. The mash bill research you did is amazing. Makes me want to try more brands of bourbons. EV 1783 is my daily go to. Keep the reports and charts coming!!

    This is a great post, I’m a big fan of all your mashbill posts. Do you know if Buffalo Trace uses the same yeast strain on all the same mashbills, or do they do it like Four Roses and use multiple yeast strains on each mashbill to make their different whiskeys? I’m especially curious about whether the wheated bourbons all use the same yeast strain.

    You guys should look into making posters/prints of these mash bill graphics. would love to have a giant poster framed with all of the mash bill families in my basement.

    One thing that should be mentioned here is that mash bill 2 are all Age International brands and use that specific mashbill for their bourbons. This is also why we don’t see other Blanton’s labels here in the US, since they are owned by the Japanese.

    I see you missed the Eagle Rare 17 which is Mash bill #1. Maybe you can include that into the next run and supply a high resolution photo of the mashbills as a PDF. I can print out large posters with high resolution files. Maybe I can help by making a poster available to your interested readership at a cheap price?

    Benchmark is Nashville #1? Huh, I thought it had a bit more rye kick than that.

    Thank you very much for your work and sleuthing.

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