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  1. #1

    Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    Because I live in California I have to order Buffalo Trace from Binnys. My understanding is that Binnys has a single barrel version of Buffalo Trace.

    I have read that buying single barrel whiskey can be risky because different barrels can differ greatly in quality. So sometimes a single barrel is something special and sometimes it isn't.

    Recently a friend of mine went on a trip to Tennessee and brought me back a .375L bottle of BT. I was excited to explore the difference between the single and multi-barrel versions. (Though I have been out of the single for some time now.) I believe that the regular BT is a mix of around 40 barrels.

    I am surprised to find that I like Binnys single barrel better than the multi-barrel. I'm not getting the vanilla flavor in the multi that I sometimes get in the single. In addition, I'm not getting the strong sharp rye flavor in the multi, and the strong sharp rye flavor of the single is one of the reasons why I'm a big BT fan. (In fact I like the rye in BT better than I do the rye in straight rye.)

    I want to know if anyone else has compared both the single and mult-barrel versions of BT. And I want to know what your impressions are of the differences, if any, you perceive between the two.

    Thank you.

    Greenbob

  2. #2

    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    While it's true barrels will differ from one another, any barrel selected by Binny's was probably from a group of barrels pre-selected by BT tasters from which to choose -- in other words, any of these barrels would have been premium.
    An SB.com consortium recently bought a BT barrel, which was bottled within the last month. Maybe some of them will chime in on how they selected it, and how it compares/differs from standard BT.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    To elaborate a little on what Tim said, any barrel the Binny's buyer has selected for a Binny's exclusive single barrel Buffalo Trace is from a barrel that was already selected to match the Buffalo Trace profile and ready to go into the tank to be bottled as Buffalo Trace. Instead it was bottled as a single. Will it taste a little different? Sure. Any two barrels will taste different and any two bottles from two different bottling batches will taste different too, because you can never match the profile exactly.

    The go/no go designation in profile matching is "close enough."

    Here's an intersting test. Take your non-SB BT and SB BT and pour a small amount from each bottle into two glass each. Mark the four glasses as to their source in a "hidden" way (e.g., tape on the bottom) then mix them up and see if you can put the matched pairs back together again correctly.

    If you don't have to do anything important later, see if you can do it three times in a row.

    What does this prove? That each drink you take tastes a little different than the last one, even if they're all coming from the same bottle/glass, because in the minutes that elapsed since the last drink, the whole world has changed and you've changed. You're that much older and wiser. You're that much more fatigued. You're that much more relaxed. You're that much more contented (or agitated, depending on what you're doing), etc.

  4. #4
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    That barrel just arrived today. I have to admit, I'm sitting here right now with the first cracked open bottle out of that load. I honestly haven't had the regular BT enough to comment at great length on the differences between our bottle and the regular label. It's darn good, though! Don't leave me here all alone with all this whiskey!

  5. #5
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    ... The go/no go designation in profile matching is "close enough." ...
    Of course, and why shouldn't it be? Bourbon is art, not science. Perhaps the single barrel bottling is supposed to introduce us to nuances of that art.

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    Bourbon is art, not science. Perhaps the single barrel bottling is supposed to introduce us to nuances of that art.
    well put.

  7. #7
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    Well, I'm glad to report that LeNell is minus a bit of BT today. We had a short one for a toast, and I thought it tasted even better than previously. So, I'm a VERY happy camper!

    Bob

  8. #8
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    Bourbon is art, not science. Perhaps the single barrel bottling is supposed to introduce us to nuances of that art.
    No doubt. I've always looked at the single-barrel vs. small-batch thing just like listening to a soloist vs. hearing the whole orchestra. (Note: this analogy is stolen from a single-malt vs. blend argument, but I believe it fits here too).

    That individual barrel that the Binny's taster selected may or may not reflect the overall BT taste profile--it's part of a spectrum of bourbons which combine to give the taste you'd normally expect. Now, is it a great musician on its own? The taster seemed to think so, but who knows?

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    I don't remember if I mentioned this elsewhere, but Woodford Reserve is doing something interesting along those lines. Since they're not a single barrel product and their whiskey is always the product of two distilleries, when you want to do what they call "Personal Selection," you get to create your own marriage of one BF barrel and one WR barrel. You still only have to buy the equivalent of one barrel from the result unless you want both, and the remainder goes into the big pot.

  10. #10
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    Re: Buffalo Trace Single vs. Multi-Barrel

    We pre-select all of our barrels for Buffalo Trace prior to the customer arriving at the distillery to select their own single barrel. When Brett from Binny's comes to the distillery (Joe C. used to come all the time before his untimely death), he will taste from 5 - 10 barrels of BT. Brett insists that Elmer accompany him and I will usually be there along with Kris. I should say that Brett has an outstanding nose and sense of taste. He and Elmer nearly always pick the same barrel.

    We knew we ran a risk allowing certain outstanding customers to select a single barrel of a brand that that is usually a multi-barrel brand. BT generally uses about 35 barrels in each lot. Even though we have pre-qualified each barrel, we acknowledge some will be better than others. Our goal is to make sure all barrels are of the highest quality so that the flavor profile one expects from Buffalo Trace is not compromised by a single truly fantastic one.

    Ken

 

 

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