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Issue 75 - Ready for it's close-up (Buffalo Trace)

Whisky Magazine Issue 75
October 2008


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Ready for it's close-up (Buffalo Trace)

Liza Weisstuch dons her white coat to see what's been cooking in the Buffalo Trace lab.

It was one of those rare occasions you have to see to believe, the kind of happening in league with the unveiling of a long-lost Rembrandt painting, or the performance of a never-before-heard Mozart symphony. Nonetheless, there they sat: nine squat bottles from nine different Buffalo Trace experimental batches, each one with hand-printed and numbered labels, the dainty script revealing what makes each bottle's contents distinct from every other bourbon ever produced. Sound hyperbolic? It's not. But don't take my word for it. When Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace's master distiller and the evening's guest of honour, walked into the stately private dining room of a steakhouse in Worcester, Massachusetts, he didn't conceal his astonishment.

“This is a one of a kind thing,” said Harlen in a slow southern drawl. “Nobody in the country has all these. The first three I haven't seen in maybe three years,” he added, referring to the first experimental batches to be bottled under his watch – bourbon aged in French Oak barrels for 10 years, Twice Barreled bourbon, which went into new oak casks after aging eight years and eight months, and Fire Pot Barrel, which aged in a barrel made of wood dried out at 102°F for 23 minutes before filling. They were released in spring 2006. Then, as now, there's only one barrel of each experiment.

The dinner was orchestrated by Ryan Maloney, second-generation owner of Julio's Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts, about 55km outside of Boston...

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