Buffalo Trace Uses A Lot More Corn In Its Bourbon Than You Might Expect

A certain amount of corn is expected in every bottle of bourbon. That's because the iconic American spirit must, by law, have a minimum of 51% corn in the mash used to produce it. There are a few bourbon makers who actually use 100% corn. But for most producers, the mash bill (or recipe) includes not just corn but ingredients like wheat, rye, and malted barley. The amount of each that is used can and does vary from label to label based on the distiller's preferences. Wheat and rye are prominent flavoring ingredients, and their prominence in the mash bill can greatly influence a bourbon's taste. It's for this reason that, what are known as high-wheat and high-rye bourbons, have become popular in their own right.

Most large bourbon producers thus use several mash bills. Buffalo Trace, for example, one of the most esteemed bourbon producers, showcases a number of house mash bills, encompassing both wheated and high-rye bourbon styles, as well as at least one that's reportedly very high in corn. The company, which is owned by Sazerac, also produces rye whiskey as well (which, again, by law, must have a minimum of 51% rye).

What is known about Buffalo Trace's secret mash bills

Some bourbon makers are upfront about mash bill recipes. Jim Beam, for instance, a household name in the bourbon world, is made with 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley, and ... no wheat. For mashes, one can think of corn as providing sweetness, while rye is known for its spiciness, and wheat for its mellower hints of caramel or vanilla. 

Buffalo Trace, however, prefers to keep its recipes under wraps. And maybe that shouldn't surprise us, as its distillery is known for producing some of the most iconic labels in bourbon, including Pappy Van Winkle, Eagle Rare, Elmer T. Lee, W.L. Weller, George T. Stagg, and Blanton's Single Barrel. Although the exact percentages used in Buffalo Trace mash bills are not known (including the one used in its eponymous Buffalo Trace bourbon), the general parameters of its primary mash bills have been released for public consumption. 

The mash bill for Buffalo Trace bourbon, as well as for the E.H. Taylor Jr., George T. Stagg, and Eagle Rare labels — is known for being very high in corn (as much as 90%), and very low in rye (under 10%). So even by bourbon standards, these mashes and the whiskies made from them have far more corn in them than anything else.