Normally I don't like to double post, but I thought this might be of interest to people who don't visit both BE.com and BD.com.
Original post: http://www.bourbondrinker.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1992
My wife and I just returned from a 3 day adventure at Buffalo Trace where we celebrated White Dog Days with the BT crew. I must say, I feel way to comfortable at the distillery!
I find it ironic that I spent my 30th birthday at the Trace for the 2008 Bourbon Crusade, and my wife spent her 30th birthday there as well (during this trip).
Thursday, the first evening, we joined a private party with a few guests, Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley and the BT crew. We drank some bourbon cocktails (ginger ale + Buffalo Trace), toured the distillery, and toasted the new distilling season with a shot of white dog from the stills first running of the season. Followed by dinner and more drinks (smoked meats---delicious).
Friday, we spent the afternoon at Keeneland horse track in the VIP lounge with Buffalo Trace and other guests. I can't express how great this afternoon was. I spent many hours sitting at a table drinking bourbon with and placing bets on horses with Harlen Wheatley and Elmer T. Lee. Elmer was such a joy to spend time with -- extremely friendly and personable. Harlen was extremely gracious as well.
Friday night we went out to dinner and drank more bourbon with members of the BT crew -- Kris Comstock, Angela Travers, Meredith Moody, and BT's Chemist Truman Cox (a very knowledgeable guy with a lot of love for the distillery). At one point during dinner I asked Truman if his job was like most---more romantic from the outside than from the inside... His response, "Nope. It's pretty much as cool as you'd imagine!" I also revealed that I was a member of the group that did the 21-barrel selection tasting with 15-people (in 2008). He remembered the group and jokingly cursed us because he's the guy that has to clean all of the glassware!
Saturday we spent more time at the distillery for a day of festivities open to the public. Another tour (5 people and a lot of behind the scenes stuff), more bourbon, lunch, bourbon boot camp with Harlen, and we watched Obie Kemper (now retired) do some barrel dancing. FYI - Obie was the gentleman who pulled whiskey from barrels during the 2008 Bourbon Crusade.
During boot camp Harlen had some very interesting things to say. He let on that Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare 10-Year, Eagle Rare 17-Year, and Stagg are all from the same mash recipe.
He also pointed out that Ancient Age, Blanton's, Elmer T. Lee, and Rock Hill farms are all from the same mash recipe. Just aged for different lengths and filtered and bottled differently. I want to say that he included Van Winkle with this recipe as well, but I can't remember for sure, so don't take my word for it...
Additionally, Harlen had some interesting things to say about Weller's being from a VERY similar recipe to a certain (more recent) red waxed bourbon, with the main difference being how long the product is aged. Angela Traver's also informed me that the Weller's line will soon have an update to its label design.
The micro-still used for the experimental whisk(e)y program looked like it's getting a good work out. It sounds like they have a lot of interesting experiments (100+ ideas) to work through with more being added all the time. Some of the experiments mentioned that are currently aging were a Chinese whiskey recipe, Bourbon aged in French Oak (instead of American Oak) and other oak varieties from around the world, and Bourbon aged in a new charred oak barrel twice (i.e. put in a new barrel half way through aging)---just to name a few.
Although we spent three days at the distillery, I could have stayed much longer!
I came home with a few bottles only available from the distillery gift shop, including several Buffalo Trace Cream Liquor (think Bailey's Irish Cream but better), 2 bottles of white dog, and an Elmer T. Lee collectors edition of Buffalo Trace.
If anyone out there has a chance to visit the Trace (whether or not it's for a special event), I can't recommend it strongly enough. I've been twice now and absolutely can't wait to go back. Everyone there so extremely friendly and personable. It's hard not to love a brand who is so passionate and sincere about what they create.
Let me know if you have any questions about what I saw!