The format of this review may be a bit different since I’m doing a side by side comparison, but I figured I would at least give the regular information for the new and unreviewed whiskey, being the single barrel Buffalo Trace. As far as I can tell this is a special selection for the liquor store I frequent in New Jersey. ( www.shoppersvineyard.com )
Price – 750 ml – $26.99 – ( http://www.shoppersvineyard.com )
Method – 1 Ice cube in Glencairn glass
Rating – 79-100
So this would be my first side by side comparison of what promises to be two very similar whiskeys. The first, Buffalo Trace, I have already reviewed and you can click to read that review which was a favorable one. The new one is a Single Barrel version of the same whiskey, aptly names Buffalo Trace Single Barrel. Like I said above as far as I can tell this is a very limited occasion and was hand selected by the purchasing team at Shoppers Vineyard. This is their explanation:
“I made my first trip down to Kentucky about 8 years ago. Back then, bourbon wasn’t as big as it is now, but I had a feeling it was ready to explode… and I was right. Items that were readily available back then are impossible to get now. The prices have also SKYROCKTED, which is not a good thing but that’s what happens when demand FAR exceeds supply.
The first person I met in Kentucky was Kris Comstock from Buffalo Trace Distillery. At the time, Buffalo Trace Bourbon was not available in my state of NJ and according to Kris there was no immediate plan to release it. That meant I only wanted it more. Fast forward a few years and BT is finally released in NJ. Not good enough for me. By then I wanted to get a BT Single Barrel, but was told emphatically “NO!” Long story short, I FINALLY got my Buffalo Trace “Shoppers Vineyard Single Barrel Selection” Bourbon Whiskey.
The BT Classic is a blend of 6-8 year barrels. This SV Single Barrel is just shy of 9 years. The distillery normally sends 3 samples and you pick one. We got 12 samples because I couldn’t seem to find the “ONE”. I’m sure the distillery was ready to kill me, but I think we picked a GREAT barrel. We have been doing some great single barrel releases recently and this one is no exception. Pick up a few bottles and let us know what you think. “
Overall I wasn’t expecting much different but I was very surprised at the dram I got out of the Single Barrel. The regular old Buffalo Trace was exactly as it always is, not the smoothest or best bourbon on my shelf, but for the price it can’t really be beaten. The Single Barrel is a bit of a surprise, the similarity to the original is easily noted but the departure from the classic feel of BT is not really an improvement. That’s not to say that its necessarily a worse dram than the blended, but it’s just much different. It has a longer finish which is much nicer, and while it doesn’t denote a different abv content on the bottle, I can’t help but feel that this is a little stronger than the blend. The wood flavor is suppressed a bit in this bottle, it doesn’t have the big hits of oak like traditional BT but it also loses a big dose of the burn that comes with the original. It kicks you in the mouth a bit harder on the first drink, but it goes down much more smoothly. The finish, while longer isn’t as pleasant however. Where the original had a short watery finish that was full of oak and some leather and caramel, this one loses the wood and caramel entirely right after the swallow and the leather fades soon after leaving nothing but the taste of dry alcohol in your mouth.
I think that overall, in the end I liked the Single Barrel a little less than the blend. Not much less, but that finish gets a little rough after a whole glass goes down. I would buy BT original again but maybe the tasters at Shopper’s Vineyard and I just have different tastes.
*interesting side note, I had about two drinks left in each glass when I was done and poured them together since I figured I was done for the evening and would just dispose of the rest. I tried it, and it actually made a better glass than the two separately. Wierd.