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Richnimrod

BT/300 Year Old Oak?

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Richnimrod

I just happened across a short post by the Bourbon & Banter guys.  

It stated that Buffalo Trace has laid down 'some' Bourbon in a(?) barrel(s) that they had specially made from the wood of a 300-year-old oak tree. 

(I'm assuming there were more than a few barrels, if BT acquired very much of the wood from a tree that was likely quite large.)

...Part of their widely ranging and well discussed 'Experimental Efforts' with wood (among many other variables).

 

Anyone able to share more about this?    The blog didn't give much, other than to say BT's experiment with this 300 year old oak would rest for at least 6-years and likely more; along with a mention of the cooperage they dealt with.

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kevinbrink

Fred Minnick posted basically the same info, Buffalo Trace has a two page press release on their site that also very much says the same thing with a little more marketing stuff added to it. My guess is it's going to be a while before we know more, though maybe someone might know what mash bill is inside the barrels though I would assume it's mash bill 1 since most (all?) mash bill 2 releases are really Age International rather than BT proper.

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tanstaafl2

Fed Minnick also had a small blurb about it. Don't know that there is much more to know. Having only recently been laid to rest as it were I hope we don't here about for at least 6 years, hopefully more! No idea what a barrel from an older tree might contribute. Might even be awful and never see the light of day although I hope not!

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Don Birnam
Just now, tanstaafl2 said:

 No idea what a barrel from an older tree might contribute. Might even be awful and never see the light of day although I hope not!

 

 

A 300 year old oak in this instance would be, as has been mentioned, very large, that means the wood may have come from the upper portion, lower portion, inner rings, nearer the bark, far too many variables to consider in the flavor profile sense. The barrels may have been a conglomeration of all tree parts. If that is the case, I can't fathom how tree age would matter.

 

While I commend BT for the experimental efforts in wood, they really are without much merit.

Except for a few special (read expensive) expressions, I can't see any producer mandating certain cuts of the tree to be made into barrels. And in the case of bourbon, it is a one time shot per barrel.

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fishnbowljoe

Here's the info directly from BT.

 

300 Year Old Wood Barrels
 
As one of our latest endeavors in experimentation we are experimenting with barrels made from 300-year-old wood.
 
This particular experiment will allow us to observe what effects the age of an oak tree itself could have on the taste of the bourbon.
 
The barrel wood used in this trial came from 300-year-old trees previously cut in Kentucky, the oldest oak trees the Distillery could find that had already been harvested. This was a rare find as an average oak tree will end its life cycle before reaching 200 years. Working with one of our long standing barrel making partners the East Bernstadt Company, it took more than a year to procure the 300-year-old wood and then a year of stave seasoning before the barrels were made.
 
We are very eager to see what effects the very old age of the wood will have on the bourbon, but only time will tell.
 
The 300-year-old barrels were filled and rolled into an aging warehouse in December where they will remain for at least the next six years, likely longer, until ready. The barrels will be monitored every year to observe any differences the wood may impart during the aging process.
 

 Cheers! Joe

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jvd99

2027 CEHT special release?

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bourbon4all

Oder trees are drastically different Google old growth pine vs new. the age rings get very very tight as a tree gets older. All this being said if it made a positive impact what are they going to do? Go cut down all the old growth forests? Not 

Old-New-Growth-Pine-1.jpg

Edited by bourbon4all
googled 4 u

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dcbt
4 minutes ago, jvd99 said:

2027 CEHT special release?

Hah.  Probably so.  

Or, watch the bourbon bubble totally pop and they end up just mixing this into regular ole BT.  

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dSculptor

They said that most oaks live maybe to 200 yrs. old, they never claimed if it was dead or not-- But hey, why not cut down a 300 yr. old tree just to make barrels from it.:( Bourbon boom = deforestation?

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Kpiz

 

57 minutes ago, dSculptor said:

They said that most oaks live maybe to 200 yrs. old, they never claimed if it was dead or not-- But hey, why not cut down a 300 yr. old tree just to make barrels from it.:( Bourbon boom = deforestation?

 

The excerpt below indicates that the trees had already been harvested and BT just tracked them down. When or why they were initially harvested is unclear...so it could have been cut down for barrels, but it doesn't sound like BT commissioned it. I would imagine BT is sensitive to how it would look if they actively sought out a live 300-year-old oak tree for this project.

 

3 hours ago, fishnbowljoe said:

Here's the info directly from BT.
 
The barrel wood used in this trial came from 300-year-old trees previously cut in Kentucky, the oldest oak trees the Distillery could find that had already been harvested. This was a rare find as an average oak tree will end its life cycle before reaching 200 years. Working with one of our long standing barrel making partners the East Bernstadt Company, it took more than a year to procure the 300-year-old wood and then a year of stave seasoning before the barrels were made.
 

 Cheers! Joe

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Richnimrod
3 hours ago, jvd99 said:

2027 CEHT special release?

Yeah, that occurred to me (& DCBT, I see as well).      I could see BT trumpeting the rarity, plus the unique, and never-to-be-replicated qualities conferred by the special wood.... Thus the drastic increase in price from 2026.   :unsure:

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smokinjoe

BT does continue to push the envelope.  And, good on them for thinking outside the box.  As many experiments go, it may yield nothing of consequence, but I find the effort and thought that went into it interesting, nonetheless.  

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Paddy

^^^Poor tree was probably felled for yet another retail development.  I wonder what it'll taste like... oak?  :o

 

That reminds me of the Forrest Gump movie....red oak, white oak, black oak, bur oak, Chinkapin oak, pin oak, shingle oak, willow oak (ok, you get the idea)...

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Don Birnam
5 hours ago, bourbon4all said:

Oder trees are drastically different Google old growth pine vs new. the age rings get very very tight as a tree gets older. All this being said if it made a positive impact what are they going to do? Go cut down all the old growth forests? Not 

Old-New-Growth-Pine-1.jpg

 

This brings up a very important point. 

Unless the staves were made from darn near the center of the logs, the wood isn't anywhere near 300 years old. The center of a log is the oldest wood. If a 100 year old oak drooped and acorn and the acorn germinated and grew for 25 years in the same soil and conditions, the wood 1 inch deep under the bark in both trees would more or less be the same age. Young and sappy.

 

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smokinjoe
14 minutes ago, Don Birnam said:

 

This brings up a very important point. 

Unless the staves were made from darn near the center of the logs, the wood isn't anywhere near 300 years old. The center of a log is the oldest wood. If a 100 year old oak drooped and acorn and the acorn germinated and grew for 25 years in the same soil and conditions, the wood 1 inch deep under the bark in both trees would more or less be the same age. Young and sappy.

 

 

Sounds like you're channelling that SKU fella, now.   :lol:  :lol:

 

 

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b1gcountry
 
This brings up a very important point. 
Unless the staves were made from darn near the center of the logs, the wood isn't anywhere near 300 years old. The center of a log is the oldest wood. If a 100 year old oak drooped and acorn and the acorn germinated and grew for 25 years in the same soil and conditions, the wood 1 inch deep under the bark in both trees would more or less be the same age. Young and sappy.
 

Kind of...old trees grow slower, and the rings would be more even between the springwood, and the later summerwood. The growth rings would be closer together, and the tree would have grown in an established forest, and gotten less light when it was young.

This makes me interested in how the flavor would be affected by a recovered log lost on the bottom of a lake or river for the last 150 years...

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk

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Don Birnam
10 hours ago, smokinjoe said:

 

Sounds like you're channelling that SKU fella, now.   :lol:  :lol:

 

 

 

No, if I were channeling  SKU I would have said the 300 year old wood is located in the center of the stump section and nowhere near enough wood for even a crafter's 5 gallon barrel.

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bourbon4all
37 minutes ago, Don Birnam said:

 

No, if I were channeling  SKU I would have said the 300 year old wood is located in the center of the stump section and nowhere near enough wood for even a crafter's 5 gallon barrel.

It's a three hundred year old tree.... you are getting hung up on the age like it is a bottle of whiskey. The growth rings on the outside of an old tree are entirely different than on a young one. Hence buffalo traces experiment. The experiment has merit except for the fact that if they get positive results..... Than what?

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bourbon4all

I bet they don't ever leak... so there's that

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jvd99

If we're channeling Sku, BT put 1 stave of 300 year old wood in the barrel and the rest is new growth wood under 4 years of age.  

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Don Birnam
1 hour ago, bourbon4all said:

It's a three hundred year old tree.... you are getting hung up on the age like it is a bottle of whiskey. The growth rings on the outside of an old tree are entirely different than on a young one. Hence buffalo traces experiment. The experiment has merit except for the fact that if they get positive results..... Than what?

 

I am not getting hung up on the age, I am merely saying that the wood is only as old as when it was created, and the outer rings as well as the top of the tree were the youngest and have the same properties as any other tree with wood of the same age. Disregarding the differences between the sapwood and heartwood of course.

 

The 'growth' rings of both young and old trees are the same, the difference in their thickness (if all other factors are the same [light, nutrients, water, etc.]) is due to the tree can only produce x amount of cells per season, older trees have more surface to cover with new cells hence a 'thinner' layer.

 

It all boils down to that old riddle;

A newlywed couple on their honeymoon carve their initials into the bark of a tree 5' from the ground, the tree grows 18" per year. How tall is the ladder they will need to view that carving on their 50th anniversary?

The answer is, the carved initials will still be 5' from the ground.

Of course it's not entirely true, the carving would be long obliterated by girth growth, but for the purpose of the riddle, it holds true.

 

 

47 minutes ago, jvd99 said:

If we're channeling Sku, BT put 1 stave of 300 year old wood in the barrel and the rest is new growth wood under 4 years of age.  

 

That sir, is funny.

 

I bet they don't ever leak... so there's that

 

Wait.....what?

What does one have to do with the other?

 

 

Edited by Don Birnam
additional material

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dSculptor

I wonder if there could be a loophole in the "new barrel" thing in order for it to be considered bourbon. What if someone emptied let's say 2/3 of the barrel and then added in more spirits and then aged it again. Technically the barrel was never emptied. This could be done just on the 4 yr. old stuff, I doubt it would change the flavor that much.. Sooner or later demand is going to outweigh supply. There are only so many oak trees out there, I can see in the future if this boom continues, oak trees will be scarce and will become highly sought after, if some of these regulations on bourbon are not changed. We can learn from the past, on how many of our resources have been depleted because of greed.

Edited by dSculptor

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dSculptor
14 minutes ago, Don Birnam said:

 

It all boils down to that old riddle;

A newlywed couple on their honeymoon carve their initials into the bark of a tree 5' from the ground, the tree grows 18" per year. How tall is the ladder they will need to view that carving on their 50th anniversary?

The answer is, the carved initials will still be 5' from the ground.

Of course it's not entirely true, the carving would be long obliterated by girth growth, but for the purpose of the riddle, it holds true.

 

I used to use that all the time when I was training greenhorns,(actually still use it even though I'm not in the industry any longer -arborist for 18 yrs. most of them as a Line clearance foreman) But I made it a bit easier- I used a branch that was 5' off the ground and the tree grew 1'  a year, how high will the branch be in 10 yrs. Just made the math a little easier, you'd be surprised on how many people do the math.

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Don Birnam
18 minutes ago, dSculptor said:

 What if someone emptied let's say 2/3 of the barrel and then added in more spirits and then aged it again.

 

It would be called Blade & Bow.

 

I'm here all week, try the veal and remember to tip your waitress.

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bourbon4all
6 hours ago, Don Birnam said:

 

They will never leak because the wood is Waaaaay more stable. As I said earlier Google it. Woodworker by trade and the difference between young trees and old trees is as different as different species of trees.

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