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  1. #61
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    As I read thru this thread, it's apparent that distillers demonstrate their fascination, passion, curiosity with research and experimentation in order to create a unique identity with desire to please and strive for perceived perfection in their craft.

    This pursuit is no different than what other top end professionals strive to achieve such as entrepreneurs, chefs, liquid chefs and entertainers to name a few examples.

    "We don't know what we don't know, but it's worth trying to find out".
    "There's nothing better than a fine dinner, a good bottle of whiskey and a bad girl"

  2. #62
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post

    What I experienced today, tasting the first release set of 12, is that they have compressed the number of variables for each release. One bottle teaches you nothing but any two bottles will teach you something really cool. You can, for example, taste two whiskeys in which the only variable is grain coarseness. Everything else is controlled for, and I mean everything, and they do taste different.
    In this light, I think you are exactly right... I guess my initial hesitation has been with the language of "perfection" and the the talk of isolating all the factors to create the perfect bourbon. Not sure whose language this was, but it is unfortunate.

    What they have done is pretty incredible, but it has to be cast in the appropriate light. This is much more "experiment" than a "pennical product" and that I love.
    Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better.

  3. #63
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    I'm not going to go chapter and verse on the posts since my last one. I think what's lacking here is a full understanding of what this project is really about. That's not a criticism of anyone. I just spent the better part of two days wrapping my head around it and talking to the people who have worked on this project for a decade.

    I'm sure not there yet. There is no reason you should be.

    This thing is really deep and the only reason they're putting it out is to please people like the people on this board. Yes, they are a profit-making business that exists to make and sell whiskey. But this is real science in which they are giving you and me an important chance to participate, so give it a chance.

    I don't want to take this too far -- it's also supposed to be fun -- but it's deeply geeky and was created by and for people who care as passionately about American whiskey as you do. It may not be "perfect" (ironically), but it is sincere.

    What I experienced today, tasting the first release set of 12, is that they have compressed the number of variables for each release. One bottle teaches you nothing but any two bottles will teach you something really cool. You can, for example, taste two whiskeys in which the only variable is grain coarseness. Everything else is controlled for, and I mean everything, and they do taste different.

    Think about this. You can taste two bottles of Blanton's, from two different barrels, and know that any difference you taste is coming from the barrel, but you can't know what it is about the barrel that is causing the difference. With this you know, because the only difference is that one is fine grain and the other is coarse, for example. Everything else about the distillate and barrel is the same. Hell, all of the wood is from the same tree. (That's the point of 'single tree.')

    You know what makes a huge difference? Whether the wood came from the top of the tree or the bottom of the tree. Who knew?

    That's pretty cool.

    I will add this. If you think it's possible to overstate the importance of the barrel to American whiskey, you know very little about American whiskey.
    Okay, that's the best description I've heard of this so far, which does make it sound interesting. Are the trees listed on the label in a way that you will know if you have, for instance, the top or bottom of the same tree?

  4. #64
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    When you buy the bottle, all you will know is its barrel number. Then you can go to the website to get the full provenence of that barrel. I have no doubt that when this gets going people will post the provenence of each barrel here.

    As for the whole 'perfection' thing, I'm going to blame that more on the Washington Post's Jason Wilson, who wrote the article that began this thread. He was there Thursday and Friday. It's not really his fault but I gave him a lot of shit and told him I was going to blame him for everything, so there it is.

    The quest for the perfect bourbon is an over all distillery mission. Nobody expects to get there, but would be thrilled to make progress in that direction. Remember, this is a business where consistency and same-as-it-ever-was is a core value. BT is just trying to say we can be committed to that but also to improvement. Nothing wrong with that.

    Let me put the span of this thing in perspective. Yesterday we planted a white oak tree on the grounds at BT in honor of Ronnie Eddins, longtime warehouse supervisior at BT, who died last October. It was Ronnie who went to Missouri a decade ago and selected the trees for this project. Everyone at BT recognizes that they are working on projects that still will be going long after they are not.

  5. #65
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Chuck, what do you think is going to happen from all this single oak/tree experimentation? I understand perfectly well how different wood and parts of a particular tree can/would affect the spirit being stored in it.

    It is an absolute truth that whatever comes from this can almost 100% NOT be replicated. If the mission is to learn about the various parts of a tree and how it affects the spirit, I can understand that. If they think they can come up with a way to produce a consistent result with this...... not gonna happen.

    I'm not against any of what they are doing. I'm all for it. But, I can't see anything that will come of it other than some nice, "unique" bourbon here and there.

    I guess what I'm asking is: what does BT hope to gain/do/accomplish with this undertaking?

  6. #66
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    What leads you to believe that this can't be replicated? Or, rather, any less repeatable than any other line whiskey out there?

  7. #67
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold View Post
    What leads you to believe that this can't be replicated? Or, rather, any less repeatable than any other line whiskey out there?
    Because no two trees are alike. Similar, yes, but not the same. You might get a similar tasting spirit from trees taken from a specific stand in the same general area. But, go a few acres from that specific area and I can almost guarantee you those trees will have a different mineral content and a different grain structure.

    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I very well could be), but isn't consistency of taste achieved by blending different barrels, at this time? Isn't this why Single Barrel releases very in taste from previous releases... because of the difference in the wood they are stored in? I don't see any difference from that and what BT is doing with single trees. If I'm misunderstanding, I'm all for being set straight!
    Last edited by ebo; 04-30-2011 at 16:44.

  8. #68
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    Entry proof is entry proof. No change of distillation proof.
    That's very disappointing to hear. Why wouldn't they want to adjust that to make, hopefully, another promising variable?
    I don't mean to sound like a naysayer. I'll look forward to tasting it, if it comes my way. I also applaud such a unique and, dare I say it, pioneering, idea.

    So, how did it taste, Chuck?
    Last edited by jinenjo; 04-30-2011 at 17:07.
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
    -Ernest Tubb

  9. #69
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post

    Because no two trees are alike. Similar, yes, but not the same. You might get a similar tasting spirit from trees taken from a specific stand in the same general area. But, go a few acres from that specific area and I can almost guarantee you those trees will have a different mineral content and a different grain structure.

    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I very well could be), but isn't consistency of taste achieved by blending different barrels, at this time? Isn't this why Single Barrel releases very in taste from previous releases... because of the difference in the wood they are stored in? I don't see any difference from that and what BT is doing with single trees. If I'm misunderstanding, I'm all for being set straight!
    You're not misunderstanding, IMHO, and very well put.

    Blending is what makes all whiskies, beers, and wines "repeatable".

    But I think that BT might "find" something by meticulously stripping down the barrel down to the not only the tree, but the part of the tree. I can tell you that a prominent American cooper chuckles at the notion that there's a consistent difference between #3 and #4 char. When you think about using an open flame that's four feet tall, you realize that the charring is likely to be all over the place, statistically and practically speaking.

    So I guess what I meant was that this isn't really less repeatable than any other small barrelling. And in fact, they might figure a few things out regarding barrels and oak along the way by looking at every little thing.

    Neat project, don't you think?

  10. #70
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    Re: Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist? Buffalo Trace's quest for "The Holy Grail".

    [quote=Leopold;244022]You're not misunderstanding, IMHO, and very well put.

    Blending is what makes all whiskies, beers, and wines "repeatable".

    But I think that BT might "find" something by meticulously stripping down the barrel down to the not only the tree, but the part of the tree. I can tell you that a prominent American cooper chuckles at the notion that there's a consistent difference between #3 and #4 char. When you think about using an open flame that's four feet tall, you realize that the charring is likely to be all over the place, statistically and practically speaking.

    So I guess what I meant was that this isn't really less repeatable than any other small barrelling. And in fact, they might figure a few things out regarding barrels and oak along the way by looking at every little thing.

    Neat project, don't you think?[/quote]
    Yes, definitely a neat project. If the learning from all the "little" differences is the goal, I would say it is a fantastic project.

 

 

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