Buffalo Trace Distillery continues its exploration into oak tree varietals with the release of its Old Charter Oak Canadian Oak. In late 2018, Buffalo Trace announced its Old Charter Oak series, a collection exploring the different taste profiles of barrels obtained from trees grown in different countries, climates and soil. The Old Charter Oak collection is designed to explore, honor, and celebrate the role of oak in making great whiskey. The oak trees used for this brand vary by country of origin, or species, or U.S. state. Some barrels are even made from century oaks, 100, 200, or 300 year old oak trees.
For the newest release, Buffalo Trace obtained a small number of barrels from Canada and filled them with its Mash #1, the same mashbill used to make Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and several other award-winning bourbons at the Distillery. Canadian oak trees differ from American oak trees in that they are harder and have a tighter grain structure, which affects the bourbon as it ages. Harlen Wheatley, master distiller, explains the difference further by stating, “The tighter grain allows the whiskey to penetrate more layers in the wood, but it does take it longer to do it. So the longer the bourbon ages, the more flavor can be extracted.”
The Old Charter Oak Canadian Oak was aged for 10 years and will be available at retail in late October.
Tasting notes for the Canadian Oak describe it as having a nose of caramel and berries. The palate has hints of vanilla and maple syrup. A long finish of oak, chocolate and pepper round it out.
This is the third release in the Old Charter Oak Collection. The first two releases were Mongolian Oak and French Oak. All the Old Charter Oak Bourbon series will be released over time, with a fourth release scheduled for early 2020. Subsequent releases are planned a few times each year, indefinitely. “We’re excited to release this third bourbon in this exploratory series. We have bourbon aging for the Old Charter Oak collection scheduled for release now through 2030, but we’ll keep producing more each year for more new whiskeys beyond that,” said Kris Comstock, senior marketing director.
By federal standards, bourbon is required to be aged in a new, charred oak container. However, there is no specification it must be American white oak, it’s just that nearly all bourbons made today are aged in white oak.
The Old Charter brand dates back to 1874, with its creation by Adam and Ben Chapeze, naming it in honor of the Charter Oak tree, a famous symbol of American independence and free spirit, which grew in Connecticut in the 12th or 13th century until it fell in a storm in 1856.
The Old Charter brand changed owners a few times, until it was purchased by Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999. The existing Old Charter Bourbon is still produced by parent company Sazerac and there are no plans to discontinue it. The Old Charter Oak series is an upscale brand extension, much like Buffalo Trace has done with its E. H. Taylor, Jr, line.
The suggested retail pricing for the Canadian Oak is $69.99, but the different oak varieties released over the years will have different price points, all in a similar range. Like the first two releases in this series, supplies will be limited. Packaging for the Canadian Oak will remain consistent with the other two releases, with an upscale look consisting of a glass bottle with a cork finish. Each bottle will have an oak medallion on the front depicting the Charter Oak tree.
The Old Charter Oak Canadian Oak is 92 proof. More information can be found about the Old Charter Oak series www.oldcharteroak.com