A little over two years ago, Buffalo Trace decided to make a bourbon like E H Taylor, Jr. made when he ran the OFC distillery in 1870. Using comments I made here on BE, they made a bourbon that was white corn 65%, rye 10% and Barley malt of 25%. They made 3 or 4 barrels of this bourbon in their small hybrid still with a low distillations proof - less than 120 proof. They put this into the barrel with a low barrel proof - about 105 (104.7 or.9, so let us just say 105 for now). I received a sample of the white dog soon after they made the bourbon and I found it to be very interesting. It was full of grain flavors without any real oily or sour characteristics. It was slightly spicey, but also a little nutty and full of corn flavor. It was very nice white dog.
Friday I visited Harlan and got a chance to taste this at 2 years old. He had a sample prepared at reduced proof and a sample of Ancient Age 2 years old next to it at the same proof for comparison. The sample of the OFC was very sweet with lots of corn, caramel/vanilla tones and a hint of fruit - apricots or peaches and maybe a little pear. There was a very smooth quality without any alcohol burn or oak bitterness. The control sample was very good bourbon with some nice barrel tones and much more of the oak tannins. What I learned from Harlan was that white corn has less oil and acid in it so there was not the same oiliness that you would expect from such a low distillation proof. It was also 10% lighter in color than the control sample. This could have been because the sample was aged higher up in the warehouse than the OFC barrel which is on the bottom floor, but since BT heats their warehouses in the winter and the bottom of the warehouse is closer to the heat source in the winter so it should balance out the level difference. I have heard that a lot of the color comes from wood tannins so that could explain the diffence in color. The lower barrel proof means more water in the barrel. The sugars from the wood dissolve better in water than alcohol thus the increase in caramel and vanilla flavors in the bourbon. Tannins dissolve better in alcohol thus there is not a bitter tannic flavor. Harlan gave me what was left in the sample bottle to take home.
That night I tried this product from the sample bottle and I really liked what I found. The whiskey was sweet with corn flavors and much more fruity with the increased proof, but still had plenty of caramel and vanilla flavors as well. A friend of mine described it as a "fruit monster". I don't know if I would go that far, it is definitely fruity. I hope that BT plans to bottle this at 100 proof because of this extra flavor. I am also looking forward to trying this again when they sample it next year or the year after. Harlan said they plan to age it 6 years. I think it may be ready in 4 years.
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873