Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection No. 24 is taking inspiration from a traditional Chinese spirits: baijiu. This is a rare first for the innovative Kentucky distillery, which produces Weller, Pappy Van Winkle, E. H. Taylor, Blanton’s, and many more of the most coveted bourbons on the market.
Baijiu is made from grain (like whiskey) and typically starts with a base of sorghum to which other grains are often added to create different flavor profiles (the same way bourbon starts with at least 51 percent corn, then rye or other grains are added).
This Kentucky-made version, however, is a little different. Buffalo Trace used sorghum and peas, and aged the distillate in three separate cask types—charred, toasted, and uncharred—before blending the three and proofing to a final level of 90 proof.
It’s possible you’ve never heard of baijiu, but outside of the U.S. that would be unlikely. Baijiu is actually the best-selling liquor in the world—it topped 10 billion liters a few years ago. Most of it’s sold in China—but with three times the global volume of vodka, that’s an impressive market nonetheless. And though it’s been slow to grab popularity in the U.S., it’s a simmering trend worldwide.
This Kentucky version (aside from its collector’s value) may offer a nice opportunity for a transition if you’re interested in exploring the complex world of baijiu—a little like training wheels for whiskey-focused drinkers. The nose of the spirit is “rich and savory, with notes of chocolate, dark cherries, and stone fruit, according to Buffalo Trace. The sorghum and peas provide a palate of confectioners sugar, followed by a sweet toffee finish.
This is Buffalo Trace’s 24th experimental release since the program started in 2006. This has been the place where Buffalo Trace has traditionally messed with traditions and expectations with the whiskey-making process. Baijiu style liquor is certainly new to the collection.
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection No. 24 is bottled in half sized 375 ml bottles with a suggested retail price of $47 each. They’ll be available in limited quantities over the next few weeks with the first bottles showing up in the next week.
Learn more here.
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