Updated: Buffalo Trace Distillery Mash Bills

Updated and Expanded BT Mash Bills

Almost a year and a half ago I created my first distillery mash bill breakdown for Buffalo Trace. There has been several changes since then so I decided it was time for an updated and expanded version. I’ve tried to focus on whiskies that are distilled (at least once) at Buffalo Trace distillery. The Buffalo Trace/Sazerac/Age International/Barton brand(s) is an intricate web and would require much more typing than I feel like doing in this post.

Buffalo Trace Mash Bills

Major Changes:

– All Van Winkle bourbons are now from the Buffalo Trace wheated mash bill

– The Van Winkle rye is still from a different source (probably Bernheim or Medley) and there’s no a official word on when this supply will run out. If I had to guess I’d say 2017.

– 2015 will be the last year of stainless steel vatted Sazerac 18. Starting 2016, Sazerac 18 will be from the Buffalo Trace rye mash bill.

Buffalo Trace uses two primary mash bills. While they don’t disclose the exact recipe we can make educated guesses at the mash bill percentages.   Mash bill # 1 is probably 10% or less and mash bill #2 is somewhere between 10%-12%.

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. See Buffalo Trace Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatly’s comments about this in my post about bourbon aging.

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 low-rye rye whiskies are much different than the currently popular high (some up to 95%) rye whiskies.

Buffalo Trace 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 warehouse two, bourbons that entered the barrel with the same mash bill and same proof can have a completely different taste and proof.

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28 comments

    Can you cite a source for Bowman as mashbill 2? I’ve always been under that impression but dug around a while back and could find no reliable source.

    It’s actually both. This is the response I got from BT “It varies, as the Abraham line is sort of like BT’s experimental line, meaning it’s different every time. We’ve used both mash bills for it before, depending on the product, so I really can’t give you a definitive answer on that”

    Nice work Blake! Thanks for keeping us informed. I was at BT last Friday for the Weller tasting and I asked the tour guide how they pick what Blanton’s becomes what (US Single Barrel, Gold, Silver etc) and he didn’t know all he would say is they have no plans on ever selling any of the other ones here in the states. So do you know how they pick what barrel becomes what kind of Blanton’s?

    Blake – 3 ETL bottles are pictured above. The middle is the Commemorative. Are the left and right both ‘regular’ single barrel? Difference btw the two, besides label, picture and foil/wax?

    I’ve read elsewhere that Walking Stick is a Sazerac product, but it is distilled at the 1792 distillery and has nothing to do with Buffalo Trace. I’m still interested in it though.

    Sound there goes the rarity of Pappy using the old German wheat that was aged for their bourbons. Now their bourbon is like others who can simply use wheat in their mash bill as well.

    I apologize if this is slightly OT but the latest email from Ezra’s indicates that Buffalo Trace is “on allocation”! Any other indications of this? Perhaps just a ploy to induce panic buying?

    Quote from Ezra’s email:
    “Buffalo Trace is the equivalent of a having a hot dog at a baseball game. It’s the de facto bourbon that everyone has had at some point. Unfortunately now has become an allocated product, so don’t miss this opportunity to grab some.”

    Great work as usual Blake. FYI, I’ve been told by BT that Bowman uses both rye recipes for its bourbons, though they wouldn’t specify which were used for which bottlings.

    I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of 20-yr old Pappy’s which I acquired sometime in the last 5-6 years. Is there any way to tell (from the labeling) what year they were bottled? I know that these bottles would sell on the 2nd-ary market for north of $1,000 (not that I’m selling), but the bottling year seems to matter as to the price.

    Walking Stick is no doubt .. buffalo trace.. if you blind tasted buffalo trace .. eagle rare..and walking stick.. you would not beable to guess correctly .. reason ? It’s the same juice

    will buffalo trace continue to produce van winkle rye? or is it being discontinued all together? any reason to hold onto my bottle for value sake?

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