Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Newest Old Charter Oak Release: “Spanish Oak”

Buffalo Trace Distillery's Old Charter Oak Fifth Release "Spanish Oak". Courtesy

Buffalo Trace Distillery (Frankfort, KY) has just announced the fifth release of its Old Charter Oak series: “Spanish Oak”. Previous four releases include: Mongolian Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Canadian Oak, and French Oak.

Quick Facts:

  • “Spanish Oak”
  • Fifth release of Old Charter Oak series
  • 92 Proof
  • SRP $69.99
  • Available beginning this Spring

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of being unarguably the most decorated distillery in American Whiskey of recent times is BTD’s veracious appetite for R&D and whiskey experimentation. Projects in the last decade such as the Single Oak Project and the Experimental Collection demonstrate their unquenchable thirst to continue discovering the micro-nuances of whiskey. Breaking down the influential flavor impacting parts of which affect the final taste sum.

Hey, who could blame them for getting a bit content and saying We make Pappy, Blanton’s, BTAC, E.H. Taylor, et et…I think we’re good.

The Old Charter Oak series is an extension of their discovery appetite. The term “Charter” is symbolic for exploring and chartering new discovery territory, if you will.

The Spring 2023 oak tree varietal release explores the use of Spanish Oak (Quercus hispanica). Harvested from the forests of northern Spain, the trees used in this year’s experiment were made into staves that were seasoned outdoors before becoming the aging vessels for this unique whiskey.

Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley provides a nice breakdown of the contrast between traditional American Oak vs Spanish Oak as it applies to whiskey aging.

“The whiskey extracts from the charred oak barrel exciting elements like eugenol, vanillin and whiskey lactone,” said BTD’s master distiller Harlen Wheatley. “American Oak has higher proportions of vanillin and whiskey lactone. Resulting in bourbon with a softer, sweeter taste and notes of vanilla and caramel. Our Spanish Oak, on the other hand, has more eugenol. Meaning drier, spicier notes and flavors like clove are imparted onto the liquid. We specifically wanted to test Spanish Oak as part of this collection because of its connection to sherry, which is known to be a nuttier, fruitier spirit. We were curious how those flavors would impact the taste of whiskey, and we are very pleased with the result.”

Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2023 Old Charter Oak Series, Spanish Oak Bottle on Cask
Old Charter Oak “Spanish Oak”. Courtesy

Per Sazerac, Old Charter Oak collection honors and celebrates the role of oak in making great whiskey by exploring the various possible taste profiles of whiskey resulting from barrels created from trees grown in different countries, climates, and soil. The oak trees used each year vary by country of origin, species, or U.S. state with some barrels made from century-old trees that grew between 100 to 300 years.

“A common misconception about the distilling process is that bourbon must be aged in new American Oak barrels,” Wheatley continued. “Though most bourbons mature in American White Oak barrels, federal regulations do not specify what type of oak the barrel must be, only that it must be a new, charred oak container. At Buffalo Trace Distillery, we are deeply committed to honoring the traditions of our category but also embracing change and pushing the limits of innovation to see where American whiskey can go in the future. Our Old Charter Oak collection is a superb example of trying new things and offering consumers and fans more ways to enjoy our award-winning portfolio of whiskeys.”

For more Bottle Release news, please visit us at www.gobourbon.com.