Buffalo Trace To Release Experimental Peated Bourbon In May

For a distillery that has a lot of history on its side, Buffalo Trace sure likes to get experimental, and that innovative heart is going to be on full display this May when it releases its new Peated Bourbon. For several decades, America's oldest continually operating distillery has been mixing, matching, adding, and subtracting to its classic bourbon recipe, in a quest to test just how much every ingredient and measurement affects the final flavor. This has included small-batch trials that have, for example, added wheat or used different levels of charring on the oak barrels — all done in search of the future for bourbon. Luckily for all of us, they have also been generous enough to share some of these experiments with the public, with every limited release having a completely unique flavor profile, like the Baijiu-style 2021 version that used sorghum and peas.

The latest experiment uses another inventive replacement for the standard barley: smoked peated malt. As expected by the distillers, peat adds a nice hint of smoky flavor, setting it apart from most rye bourbons. In a press release sent to Tasting Table, Buffalo Trace's Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley notes that the smoke is "just enough to compliment the sweet and spicy notes from the rye" for a level of complexity above and beyond Buffalo Trace's standard recipe.

Buffalo Trace's new peated Bourbon uses a malt traditionally common in Scotch

Wheatly says of Buffalo Trace's experimental line it "is not about breaking the rules of bourbon" and that the vast majority of their experiments use traditional whiskey ingredients and techniques. The smoked peated malt in this release fits right in with that philosophy, as peat was commonly used as a fuel in Scotland to malt barley during the production of Scotch whisky. Peat was a cheap, readily available fuel with a strong smoky smell, and when burned in the kiln with the malt, it would impart that quality to the alcohol. The result for Buffalo Trace is a bourbon that is not only smoky but nutty, with notes of brown butter, leather, and toffee.

The new bourbon release is being shipped to stores this coming May in smaller 375mL bottles and priced at $46.99. Like past small-batch releases, a very limited quantity is available, so act quickly if you're keen to sample it. There is no standard schedule for the experimental lines, as not every Buffalo Trace trial is considered worthy of a release. The ones that are sold tend to do so quickly from traditional retailers and get traded like a commodity on the secondhand market, so keep your eyes peeled at your local bourbon retailer because this one is sure to go fast.