Almost four years ago I created my first distillery mash bill breakdown for Buffalo Trace. There have been several changes since then. I decided it was time for an updated and expanded version. I’ve tried to focus on whiskeys that are distilled (at least once) at Buffalo Trace distillery. The Buffalo Trace/Sazerac/Age International/Barton brand(s) is an intricate web.
– 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 not an official word on when this supply will run out. If I had to guess I’d say 2017.
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 whiskeys are much different than the currently popular high (some up to 95%) rye whiskeys.
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.