Buffalo Trace’s Newest Experimental Bourbons Showcase Extreme Stave Seasoning

Buffalo Trace Seasoned Staves 36 and 48
Buffalo Trace Seasoned Staves 36 and 48 months. Courtesy Buffalo Trace.

Buffalo Trace’s 22nd experimental whiskey release is all about barrel staves, and how longer seasoning affects the final product.

The Experimental Collection first appeared on shelves back in 2006. Experimental bourbons tend to focus on one individual contributing factor, with the idea to see what impact a particular ingredient will have on the final whiskey. Past experimental releases have focused on aging conditions, grain types, and other factors. These new whiskeys were aged nine years in barrels made from extremely seasoned staves.

“The bourbons, filled with Buffalo Trace’s mash recipe #1, were put away to age on October 27, 2009 in new barrels with staves that were seasoned for 36 months and 48 months,” Buffalo Trace explained in a press release this morning. “Most barrel staves air dry for six months, but these oak staves were allowed to season for much longer in hopes the barrels would offer a unique flavor, different than standard barrels.”

Buffalo Trace says the difference between the two bottles is slight, but the difference between these experiments and traditional Buffalo Trace whiskeys is noticeable.

“The 48 month seasoned stave barrels created a more mellow taste and holds less flavor from the wood,” stated Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “The 36 month seasoned stave bourbon is a little more flavorful with oak notes and caramel present.”

These releases, like those before them, will come in 375 ml. bottles, labeled with all the relevant barrel information. Buffalo Trace hasn’t disclosed total production volumes, but they’re usually quite small for these projects. They’ll retail for around $47 per bottle when they become available next month.

G. Clay Whittaker
Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.