Buffalo Trace Distillery began experimenting with recipes and barrel treatments more than two decades ago. Currently there are more than 5,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in its warehouses. Each of the barrels has unique characteristics and experimental changes in the mash bill, types of wood, barrel toasts and more. Periodically, an experimental whiskey is bottled and sold on a limited basis.
For 2016, the pioneering distillery has prepared a bourbon experiment which involved the use of infrared light waves. Working with barrel cooper Independent Stave Company in 2009, eight special barrels were constructed for this experiment. All eight first underwent the same process as standard Buffalo Trace barrels, staves were open air seasoned for six months before being made into barrels. But then, these barrels underwent a distinct process of being treated with infrared lightwaves. The goal was to determine how new and different flavors can be drawn from the oak using this process. Barrels were divided into two groups and subjected to two different levels of infrared light waves. Both barrel groups produced very interesting & distinct flavor profiles.
The first group of four barrels underwent 15 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 70% power Distinct & intricate flavors were drawn from the wood. A floral nose is followed by a complex flavor profile, oak and tannins mingle with dry raisin and sweet caramel.
The second group of four barrels was subjected to 30 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 60% power. The barrels were then given a quick #1 (or 15 seconds) char. Rich flavors were highlighted in the oak, producing a bourbon with strong wood notes, compliment by a taste of dried fruit. A lingering finish leaves a hint of cracked black pepper.