Single Oak Project Project

Buffalo_Trace_Single_Oak_Project_1st_Release

Buffalo Trace recently kicked their quest for the perfect bourbon into overdrive when they broke ground on Warehouse X, a bourbon experimentation lab of sorts. To date, Buffalo Trace has released hundreds of experimental bourbons through their Single Oak Project (SOP) Line and their Experimental Collection line. These are all half bottles priced around $55.

To be frank, some of the SOP barrels are just plain bad, while a select few are gems. Most stores only have one or two barrel numbers and Buffalo Trace randomized the barrel numbers throughout the releases so you have no idea what you are looking at until you get home and register the bottle on singleoakproject.com. This makes the SOP a huge gamble when you consider a $60 SOP is the equivalent of a $120 full size bottle of bourbon.

The only place that I have found putting out barrel by barrel tasting notes is Chris Null’s thread over at drinkhacker.com. He has access to the mashbill, grain type, entry proof, weather the barrel is made out of the top half or the bottom half of the tree, if it is sourced from tree harvest location A or B, and how long the wood was “seasoned” before being turned into a barrel. He also has specific tasting notes and letter grades for each barrel number.

As much as I am a supporter of their search for the perfect bourbon, I don’t necessarily feel like being a ginny pig at $60 per 375ml, so I am creating a cheat-sheet. Since the barrels are randomized, so are his reviews. Null’s first post does not include barrel 1 through 20, it includes barrel 3, barrel 29, barrel 79, barrel 131, etc. Below, you will find every barrel, in order, as they come out. Whatever barrel you find at your store, you will find it here on this page.

Honestly, I wish Buffalo Trace would have done this much different. I would much rather have preferred a release be sold as a $200 set including one bottle from each barrel instead of a $60 375ml bottle from one barrel. They could have marketed the entire line at whiskey bars across the nation, encouraging the bar to give out flights and punch cards with a little notecard for tasting notes. Heck, they could have even did what Woodford Reserve did with their “New Rye, Old Rye” release and sold two 375′s, one bottle being a rye bourbon barrel and one bottle being a wheated barrel.

Just about anything else would have made more sense in the spirit of actually getting a consensus. To me, one reviewer that reviews six barrels is more valuable that six reviewers that review one barrel each. Luckily, I trust Christopher Null’s palate on all things but cask strength bourbons, so his palate will probably be a good barometer for whatever barrel lands at your local store.

There are 9 releases to date which marks the half way mark of the SOP, so I will do my best to keep the list up to date as Null puts out more notes.

Each release focused on a different variable, sometimes two or three variables. Each release has 6 wheated mashbills and 6 rye finished mashbills.

Single Oak Project Release Explanations

Release #1: Focused on tree size, number of rings and inches and number of staves produced.

Release #2: Focused on grain size of the barrel’s wood, char #3 vs char #4, and where exactly the trees were grown.

Release #3: Focused on entry proof, either 105 or 125. Entry proof is the proof of the whiskey when it is put into the barrel for aging.

Release #4: Focused on the difference between barrels aged in Warehouse K and Warehouse L. K has wood floors, L has concrete floors. Floor type alters the temperature and the humidity of the building, but the difference in location can create a large difference all by itself.

Release #5: Focused on both entry proof and the grain size of the barrel’s wood.

Release #6: Focused on char #3 Vs. char #4 and wood grain size again.

Release #7: Focused on “seasoning” of the barrel staves. Level 6 “seasoning” indicates the wood is aged for 6 months before the barrel is constructed, and Level 12 indicates 12 months of aging, or “seasoning”. There was a time when I thought this meant they put spices on the wood, but unfortunately, no Montreal Steak has been added to the barrel.

Release #8: Focused on wood type: tight grain, average grain, coarse grain and wood from the top of the tree and the bottom of the tree.

Release #9: Same as release #8.

Release #10: Entry proof and grain size. Enters the distillate at 105 and 125, much like the most recent Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection.

Release #11: Focuses on the difference between Warehouse L which is made from brick and has concrete floors and Warehouse K which is made from brick and has wooden floors.

Single Oak Project by Barrel Number

Barrel #1 (Release #5)– Orange and caramel notes, otherwise a relatively workmanlike Bourbon with plenty of vanilla going on. A bit bitter on the very end. B (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #3 (Release #1)– Overwhelming orange notes, young. Not overly sweet, lots of bite. No real wood character. B (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 16 growth rings/inch, 42 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #4 (Release #1)– Astringent on the tongue and hugely grain-focused. The finish is medicinal, sour, and rough. One of my least favorite of the bunch. C- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 16 growth rings/inch, 47 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #5 (Release #9)– Heavy apples, very fruity. Light body, pleasant and easy. Touch of citrus on the back end. B+(rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 17 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #6 (Release #9)–Slightly more astringent than #5, more burly. Dark chocolate and coffee bean, charcoal character on the finish. Feels overcooked. C+ (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 17 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #8 (Release #3)– A really solid entry, heavier on the spicy character than most of the round. Good balance, with more of a sugar-forward character than the otherwise similar barrel #167. A close second place to that barrel. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #9 (Release #10) – Very woody and overcooked. Dusty, with notes of bittersweet chocolate and coffee grounds. Shows its charms after a while in glass, but it’s a long time coming. B- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #10 (Release #4)– Interesting texture, almost like dissolved sugar. Great body and good balance, with flavors of apricots, tangerines, aged wood, and a long vanilla cream finale. Smooth, silky finish. One of the best from this series to date. A (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #14 (Release #4)– More syrupy, and more wood influence. Bit of raisin in the body, giving this a touch more interest. Not a bad whiskey at all. B+ (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #17 (Release #5)– A sweeter style, but limited on nuance. Nothing wrong here, but it comes across more like a Canadian whisky, blended and young. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #18 (Release #7)– Lots of vanilla, very easy, pleasant. Plenty of wood on the nose. Cherry notes on the finish. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #19 (Release #11) – Racy, powerful nose. On the palate, restraint rules the day, with more raw, wood oil notes ruling the day. Light touches of cinnamon, licorice, and popcorn dance on the finish, none of which is overwhelmingly in balance or intriguing. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #23 (Release #11)– A good slug of spice on the nose… once you push through a bit of heat. Beyond, you’ll find an impressive spirit, filled with vanilla, some cocoa and coffee bean notes, and a soothing woodiness to back it up. Long and sweet on the finish, it’s a beautiful sipper that belies its rustic nose. A top pick of this series. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #24 (Release #3)– Hot, tastes like an overproof Bourbon. Not getting much character out of this, just some light grain characteristics. It’s like the wood just didn’t give up its essence in the service of this whiskey. C+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #25 (Release #10) – Heavy menthol on the nose, hot body. After the mint character fades, it’s all burnt wood and chimney fires on the palate, but the finish just sort of lies there. (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #26 (Release #7)– Bigger, brasher, with a hefty alcoholic burn. Medicinal, to an extent, on the nose. Bit of menthol, which impacts its overall “whiskyness.” B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #27 (Release #8)– Cherries on the nose, some citrus. Sweet on the palate, with similar fruit. A fine, fruity Bourbon without a lot of nuance, but very easy drinking. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #28 (Release #8)– More wood character, and more dessert notes on the palate. That said, balance comes along quite nicely as it opens up in the glass, with a silky, long finish. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #29 (Release #2) – Big, “old Bourbon” character. Good balance of wood and spice notes, and a touch of citrus on the finish. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #30 (Release #6)– Good all-around Bourbon, classic structure, vanilla, marshmallows, toffee. Long finish, very smooth. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #31 (Release #2)– Slightly more tannin here, but the finish is a bit sweeter, too. Less nuance, but really easy-drinking. For sure it’s another winner. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #32 (Release #6)– Spicier, but not overdone, more wood oils here, a bit rough on the finish, and a touch bitter. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #33 (Release #5)– Another light style, sweet on the nose with a minty finish. Hints of chocolate, but not heavy enough to really bring much to the table. I’m not in love with the balance. B- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #35 (Release #1)– Rich and creamy, with loads of caramel, coffee, dark chocolate. Wood comes along on the finish, and the whole affair offers a wonderful balance. A favorite — and a surprise; we guessed it was rye-based. (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 17 growth rings/inch, 43 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #36 (Release #1)– Classic Bourbon style, the long finish is smooth but serious. Lush with big caramel and vanilla notes and creamy in the mouth. A little apple pie on the finish. One of the best on the block. A- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 17 growth rings/inch, 55 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #37 (Release #9)– Hot heat, fire and brimstone. No fruit left in this, just charred wood and embers. Bad barrel? C- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #38 (Release #9)– Spicy and fun, lots of cinnamon and baking spices, with a gingerbread finish. Woody but well integrated. A- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 16 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #40 (Release #3)– Good all-around balance here: Sweet nougat character plus spicy notes, but the finish veers toward the spice. The body’s a touch on the thin side. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #41 (Release #10) – Much better balance here, both with a seductive nose and a well-built body. Lots going on throughout, with notes of butterscotch, rum raisin ice cream, and cherries on the finish. Altogether it’s got a great balance of flavors that come together swimmingly, though the body is slightly thin. One of the best bottlings in this whole series. (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #42 (Release #4)– A bigger whiskey than the previous, more sweet, and a bit of burn. Cedar box and evergreen notes. A solid Bourbon, especially for the sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) out there. A- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #46 (Release #4)– Heavy wood influence, a bit overcooked. The finish redeems with a powerful cinnamon character. Plenty of vanilla here, too. Solid, woody Bourbon. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #49 (Release #5)– Burly, tastes like it has lots of rye (wrong!). Very grassy, but again a touch of mint. Balanced, complex. Plenty of vanilla to calm things down, with a lasting and warming finish. Curious coffee character. Favorite of the batch. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #50 (Release #7)– Similar on the nose to #26 — some mint, some hospital notes — touches of red pepper give it a bit of exoticism. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, 17 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #51 (Release #11)– Cherry up front on the nose, with strong brewed tea notes — an interesting combination. The body alas doesn’t hit on all fronts, some of the more traditional Bourbon elements — vanilla and spice — pushed away by some more astringent notes in the finish. (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #55 (Release #11)– Slightly skunky, almost muddy on the nose. The body’s a bigger success — with caramel and chocolate notes galore — offering a rich and almost dessert-like experience. Hard to connect that to the weird nose, though. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #56 (Release #3)– An odd finish mars this Bourbon. Terribly ard to place, it tastes a bit like coconut, banana, and rubber. Intriguing due to its tropical uniqueness, it comes across like a “world whiskey” instead of Bourbon — and something wholly unlike any of the other whiskeys in this collection… for better or for worse. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #57 (Release #10) – Heavy with sawdust and lumberyard notes on the nose, with a slight orange tinge. Feels undeveloped on the tongue, lacking any real definition or direction. Fades quickly. B- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #58 (Release #7)– I like the balance. It’s bold without being brash. Lots of traditional Bourbon notes — vanilla and caramel, touched with cinnamon. Even a little chocolate on the finish. Arguably better than #18. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 17 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #59 (Release #8)– Not a whole lot of flavor left in this, though the wood character dominates what’s left in the bottle. Drying finish without much love in it. This is an off barrel. C (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 18 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #60 (Release #8)– Very woody on the nose, but the body brings up cinnamon and baking spices. It’s still a little hot and unbalanced but the “frontier style” whiskey is fun to drink. Lots of vanilla on the finish. A contender. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, 18 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #61 (Release #2)– Harder edged, with more citrus character — maybe a touch of orange peel. Tougher on the finish, but still a credible Bourbon. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #62 (Release #6)– Whole lot of menthol on the nose, some fuel oil. A bit rubbery on the finish. C- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #63 (Release #2)– Big and spicy, and frontier style whiskey at heart. Vanilla is the dominant character, which rounds out the finish. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #64 (Release #6)– Hospital notes on the nose again, band-aids and astringent finish. Not quite as severe as 62, but still off. Like it hasn’t properly aged. C (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, tight grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #65 (Release #5)– Skunky with sawdust notes on the nose, perhaps indicating a flaw with the barrel. The palate isn’t really off, though, offering a traditional (yet woodsy) vanilla character. C- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #67 (Release #1)– A bit astringent, big sweet caramel character. Not much beyond first impressions. B- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 12 growth rings/inch, 33 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #68 (Release #1)– Super woody, but shows its charms as you drink it. Some vanilla and spice on the finish. Nothing out of the ordinary. (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 12 growth rings/inch, 44 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #69 (Release #9)– Overripe bananas and vegetal notes, a little saccharine. Has something of an Irish whiskey feel to it. The finish is off, lean and unbalanced. (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #70 (Release #9)– Lots of grain influence on this one. Tastes young, but not overly brash. Chewy and rustic.  B- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #72 (Release #3)– Caramel apples here, bit of bite on the finish, but otherwise relatively unremarkable. B (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree) Buffalo Trace Distillery Single Oak Project Barrel #88 – Sweet and traditional, but with a hard edge to it, a kind of bitter finish that mars a promising start. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #73 (Release #10) – Nose of tobacco leaf and barrel staves, unusual and intriguing. The body offers a surprising mix of wood, butterscotch, mushroom, and vegetal character — which is altogether more interesting than it may sound in that description. The finish grows quite sweet. This one grew on me quite a bit. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #74 (Release #4)– Pure vanilla and caramel, a lovely Kentucky approximation of creme brulee. The wood makes an appearance at the end, which somewhat mars the fun. Still like it. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #78 (Release #4)– Lots of wood here, but that fades with time in the glass. Beneath that there’s some sugar. Caramel character, to be specific. That sweetness grows as the finish rumbles on. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #81 (Release #5)– Tea leaf is huge here, imparting a massive brewed tea character. Feels like a wheated Bourbon (it’s not), easygoing but without a lot of complexity. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #82 (Release #7)– Lots of spice, on the nose at least. Interesting character, but sweeter and with ample spice. Lots of wood. Fun. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 14 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #83 (Release #11)– Hard to parse on the nose, the aromas are closed off but heaviest on basic wood notes. The body is on the simple side — sweet, melted caramels, a touch of raisin. Completely agreeable. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #87 (Release #11) – Big nose, offering menthol character with a lot of heat… and a touch of chocolate. The body is surprisingly rich and creamy, with sultry cinnamon and coffee bean notes, and a kind of cafe au lait finish. Surprising and unusual, with its powerful nose and exotic body. I like it quite a bit. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #89 (Release #10) – Strong apple notes on the nose, with some pleasant cinnamon undertones. This is a unique whiskey for the Single Oak Project, light and fruity but also balanced by ample oak. This is another winner, but a wholly different spirit than the others in this round. A-  (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #90 (Release #7)– Very woody, tannic. Dry and a little tough. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #91 (Release #8)– Not much of a nose on this, but the body features tons of vanilla. Beyond that, not a ton of character, but those in search of a “smooth” Bourbon will enjoy this. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #92 (Release #8)– Very woody nose, with a fresh-cut lumber character. On the palate, a bit racy, with touches of licorice and a bit of tannic burn. Lots going on in the lumberyard department. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #93 (Release #2)– Hard and tough, spicy and herbal, with a rocky finish. The finale is lasting and grows more and more tannic as it goes on. Out of balance. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #94 (Release #6)– Hot on the palate, with a big spicy kick, but it mellows out and finishes with a smooth, dessert-like caramel silkiness. Coming together, but imperfect. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #95 (Release #2)– Similarly burly to #93, but slightly softer. Unlike its kid sister, it eases up on the finish, leaving you with sweetness instead of throat-choking tannin — amazing what a slightly longer char can do. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location A)

Barrel #96 (Release #6)– Very woody up front, and astringent on the back of the palate. Develops licorice notes, black cherry, and a nicely sweet finish. Like #94, it’s got two faces, and the second face is the better one. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #97 (Release #5)– Lots going on here. A bit of a mess, though. Smoky, with heavy wood overtones. Not a favorite. C+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #99 (Release #1)– Sweeter but not terribly nuanced, and not a lot of secondary character. Good, creamy body. Not a whole lot to it but an easy drinker. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 12 growth rings/inch, 35 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #100 (Release #1)– Another easy whiskey, with a little vanilla and round mouthfeel, but not a lot of character. B (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 12 growth rings/inch, 43 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #101 (Release #9)– Lots of raw alcohol notes, a hot burner. Settles down with time, revealing ample wood character, but the finish is still to fiery for easy drinking. C+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 13 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #102 (Release #9)– Woody, but with some spice to it. Similar to 101 but with a bit more sweetness and a smoother finish. Astringency on the finish dulls its impact. B- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 13 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #104 (Release #3)– Smooth, quite sweet. Lots of caramel on this one, with a distinct vanilla kick. One for the sweet tooths, but not a lot of nuance. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #105 (Release #10) – Absent on the nose, a surprise given the relative depth of flavor in the palate — lots of caramel and vanilla, quite the sugar bomb on the tongue. Some honey and candied ginger flavors add complexity, but still can’t manage to coax anything into the aroma. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #106 (Release #4)– Nice orange character, which grows stronger as the finish builds. A sizeable wood influence in here, too, but the balance is not as full-formed as with other Bourbons in this collection. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #110 (Release #4)– Smooth caramel in a glass, with some unusual herbal notes on the finish, plus some dark chocolate character. Quite a departure from the other whiskeys in this collection, particularly its sibling, #106 — and really quite enjoyable with its complexity. A (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #113 (Release #5)– I’m not in love with the wood-heavy nose but the body is pretty unique. Peaches and vanilla give it a dessert-like (cobbler?) finish that, unfortunately, is at odds with the aroma. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #114 (Release #7)– Ample wood, some apple, some orange… but too much heat to make it all work. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, 13 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #115 (Release #11)– Heavy wood on the nose, but the sweetness on the body offers respite, and balance. This is one of this project’s few whiskeys with a clear grain-and-popcorn character, indicating it could stand a few more years in barrel… maybe more. Curious raspberry tea notes on the finish add fun. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #119 (Release #11)– Traditional nose, a bit dusty. Lemon peel/lemongrass character comes along on the body, but otherwise it’s a Bourbon that exudes wood over just about everything else. Not a standout here. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #120 (Release #3)– Distinct mint notes are prominent in this one, another “big” and moderately woody whiskey that carries with it a surprisingly sweet finish. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #121 (Release #10) – Another one with a mild nose, this one with hints of banana and apples, followed by touches of sawdust. The body is also very restrained, coming forward with more orange and sherry notes, vanilla ice cream. Another for the sweet tooths, but I like it. A-  (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #122 (Release #7)– Bigger vanilla, pretty straightforward… until black pepper comes along at the end. Not entirely complex, but definitively worthwhile. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #123 (Release #8)– Overwhelming wood on the nose, with touches of sweetness. The body’s not entirely balanced, tending tannic as it finishes. Some vanilla sweetness comes along late in the game, but too late. B- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #124 (Release #8)– Hugely fruity, apples heavy here, with touches of cinnamon. Apple pie? It’s a little too sweet, but I’d see it as a real go-to as a blending Bourbon. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, 12 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #125 (Release #2)– Another huge whiskey, and one a bit lacking in secondary character. Although I know it’s got the same age on it as the rest, it feels young and a little undercooked. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #126 (Release #6)– Chewy but with a very light body. Overall a classical structure that reveals caramel and brown sugar in the end, but not a lot of depth. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #127 (Release #2)- Unsurprising, a straightforward Bourbon with a straightforward caramel character. Short finish. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #128 (Release #6)– Lots of heat on this one, fading in the end and leaving behind a short finish. Not a lot of flavor at any point along the way, though. Harmless. C (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, average grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #129 (Release #5)– Very sweet up front, but that fades quickly. Again, lots of wood on the nose. B- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #131 (Release #1)– Really woody, and far out of balance. Lots of alcohol on this one, with a tough, super woody finish. C (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 8 growth rings/inch, 42 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #132 (Release #1)– Smooth and delightful, with caramel, vanilla, and spice. Really nice body. Perhaps the favorite of the night. If this is from the top part of the tree that #131′s barrel is from, they’re night and day. A (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 8 growth rings/inch, 65 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #133 (Release #9)– Very woody, particularly on the nose. Hot with burning coals but tempered with some nougat and marshmallow notes. Give it a chance. (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 9 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #134 (Release #9)– Not bad. Good sweetness level, with decent vanilla and caramel, but tough on the back end. B  (rye, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 9 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #136 (Release #3)– The mild nose is misleading: The whiskey beneath the surface is racy and literally overflowing with spiciness and a lush, wood kick. Fans of big rye whiskeys are going to enjoy this one, but traditionalists may find it too overpowering. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #137 (Release #10) – Classic Bourbon nose, quite woody. Huge spiciness on this one, with baking spices balanced by a pepperiness I haven’t much seen in this round. Drinks hotter than its 90 proof, which is perhaps a good thing inthis case. A- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #138 (Release #4)- Evergreen notes on the nose lead to a somewhat traditional and sweet whiskey. The finish is a touch sour compared to the others in this round, but on the whole it’s another solid Bourbon. B+ (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #142 (Release #4)– Perhaps the first miss in this collection. Not much happening on the nose, and on the tongue it fades quickly. Over-wooded, with the flavor sucked out a bit. B- (rye, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete, #3 char,bottom half of tree)

Barrel #145 (Release #5)– Apricots and sherry on the nose, almost rum-like. Quite a complicated little surprise. The body is a little more traditional, with chewy vanilla caramels taking the lead. My #2 for the night. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #146 (Release #7)- Spicier, with some cloves and cinnamon. A little toffee and nuttiness as it goes down and matures in the glass. Not at all bad. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 10 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #147 (Release #11)– Tightly wound. This is at first a tougher bourbon, bound up with oak staves and sawdust. But the finish comes along with a curious cookie character — pecan sandies, anyone? — that adds nuance and a touch of intrigue. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #151 (Release #11)– Pure wood on the nose, with some cinnamon lacing, perhaps. The body is sweet at first, giving way to a hefty wood character that builds and builds to a slightly astringent finish. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #152 (Release #3)– A smooth operator. Classic vanilla/caramel body, very mild. A touch of menthol in the finish, but it’s fleeting, a bit like an Andes mint after a creme caramel dessert. A- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #153 (Release #10) – Ample wood on the nose, backed up with menthol. Slightly tight on the palate, a little closed off, the wood becoming a touch astringent in the end. Lacking in any real secondary character. B- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #154 (Release #7)– Tons of heat on the nose… tough to push past all that to get to what is a fruity and amply sweet Bourbon without being overdone. A bit woody on the finish, which is surprisingly lasting. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 10 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #155 (Release #8)– Medicinal, astringent on the nose. And yet, watery and just generally off in a couple of ways. This barrel’s not a great one, though it does settle down after some time in the glass. C- (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 9 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #156 (Release #8)– Heavy wood on the nose. Better than #155 but with more than a few similarities. Again, it settles down over time but the finish remains on the rough side. C+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 9 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #157 (Release #2)– Not much to it, just a moderate whiskey with a medium body, mild finish. Caramel and wood notes, but mild. B (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #158 (Release #6)– Big toffee sweetness on the front of the palate, almost cotton candy like, a real departure vs. some of these more reserved and withdrawn spirits. A sugar bomb, almost a bit much. B+ (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #159 (Release #2)– Finally, a Bourbon that gets me going. Savory and sweet working together, with caramel and vanilla very strong, but balanced by a modest woodiness. Just about everything I want in a glass from a young whiskey. A (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #160 (Release #6)– Finally a real thoroughbred. This one has it all, up-front sweetness, depth of flavor, a touch of spice, and lush and lacy caramel notes throughout. Touches of citrus raise the game. Best of the lot. A (rye, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #161 (Release #5)– Smells good, though heavy on wood. The body doesn’t take that anywhere, though. Lots of astringency on the finish. C+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #163 (Release #1)– Caramel apple character, with bit of vanilla and a somewhat thin body. Really nice flavor, but the body lacks weight. A- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 9 growth rings/inch, 60 staves/barrel, top half of tree)

Barrel #164 (Release #1)– Amazing bite on this, astringent. A little vanilla and caramel on the palate, but the body is thin and unmemorable. B- (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, wood ricks, #4 char, 9 growth rings/inch, 38 staves/barrel, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #165 (Release #9)– Far more balanced than most of the crowd here. Again, plenty of wood but tempered with some chocolate and cinnamon. Decent finish. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 8 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #166 (Release #9)– Hot. Grains, spice, a big whiskey. Not entirely put together well, with a red pepper and wood char finish. Weird collection of flavors, all out of balance. C  (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 8 growth rings/inch, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #167 (Release #3)– Great balance here, love the intense caramel and vanilla notes and just a hint of cinnamon to give it depth. Incredibly rich, this is probably my favorite whiskey in this batch. A (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #169 (Release #10) – Hot on the nose, mild on the tongue. This whiskey makes no sense! Banana nut bread notes come along, with some basic caramel character and touches of mint. Fine, in the end, but not entirely in balance. (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #170 (Release #4)– Pure nougat on the nose and the palate, but a touch on the alcoholic side, leaving a hot finish lacking in most of the other whiskeys here. B+ (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #174 (Release #4)– A touch of menthol, some cherry notes, then a lingering, lasting sweetness. Great balance. Lovely Bourbon. A (wheat, 125 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #177 (Release #5)– Extremely mild nose, but lots of spice in the body. Woody, overall has a good balance. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wood ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #178 (Release #7)– I was sure this was rye (wrong!), good spice, with some chocolate and cinnamon. Very contentious at our tasting panel — the lasting woodiness you either love or hate. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, 8 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #179 (Release #11)– Classically structured. Deep wood impregnated with vanilla on both the nose and the palate. The body is velvety, the finish long and chocolaty. Interesting notes of marshmallow and licorice here and there. Lots to explore. An easy winner for this installment — and the series as a whole. (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #183 (Release #11)– Ripe banana meets wood on the nose. On the tongue: Incredibly sweet, which makes it incredibly drinkable, but almost puts it on par with a Cognac over a traditional Bourbon. Would love to see a touch more austerity from this, but could easily sip on it for days. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 6 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #184 (Release #3)– Heavy apple character here, moderate wood influence. The balance is imperfect, though, with a somewhat hard edge to the finish. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #185 (Release #10) – Woody, lots of citrus, overall a fun, frontier-style whiskey with plenty to enjoy. The lumberyard notes are what stick with you, but they’re light enough to leave you more with a sense of well-being than one of kicking up sawdust. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, wooden ricks, #3 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #186 (Release #7)– Extremely sweet, almost cloying. Not a lot of character due to the overwhelming amount of sugar in the glass. I’d use it as a mixer. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 8 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #187 (Release #8)– Again that hospital character comes on strong, backed by ample wood character. On the body: Woody, lightly tannic. Not my favorite. C+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 10 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, top half of tree)

Barrel #188 (Release #8)– Woody and burly with a nicely sweet finish. Lots of spice — red pepper and cinnamon, some cloves. Good balance in the end. B+ (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, 10 growth rings/inch, wooden ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #189 (Release #2)– Spicier, with fun caramel apple, banana, and character. I like this a lot. The finish makes me think of a nut-infused banana split. A (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #190 (Release #6)– Also very good, but with a bit of heavy alcoholic vapor to it. Racy, with dark molasses, dark chocolate to it. Missing something, but not a bad whiskey on the whole. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #3 char, bottom half of tree)

Barrel #191 (Release #2)– Very similar to 189, maybe a touch harder on the finish. Lovely, though. A- (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, top half of tree, harvest location B)

Barrel #192 (Release #6)– Similar notes to #190, with more of a spicy, chewy character to it. Some greenness on the finish, too, and the dark cocoa notes don’t entirely mesh. B (wheat, 105 entry proof, level 12 seasoning, coarse grain, concrete ricks, #4 char, bottom half of tree)

4 responses to “Single Oak Project Project

    • Why would Buffalo Trace make it so hard? If Null is right, there are as many C grade SOPs as there are B grade and A grade combined. If would be a very hard and very expensive bottle to move if people knew there were more bad bottles than good.

      Like this

  1. I got one on a whim 64# find you nots a bit off. Very smooth with a fruit full finish. Not that I want to get 129 more but sometimes you have to roll the dice to make life exciting.

    Like this

  2. Pingback: Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse X to shed ‘light’ on secrets behind perfect bourbon | Insider Louisville·

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