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Bourbon Doesn't Need to be Aged in American Oak Barrels, or in Barrels at All

Today Buffalo Trace announced a new bourbon aged in French Oak barrels. 

French Oak Experiment 2015Buffalo Trace (experimented with French oak by) creating two different barrel types, one made entirely of French oak, and another using French oak heads, but American white oak staves. The barrel staves were air-dried for six months and the barrels were charred for 55 seconds. Both of these experimental barrels were filled with the same bourbon recipe, known as Buffalo Trace Rye Bourbon Mash #1. 

After 10 years of aging, these two bourbons have been bottled as part of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Experimental Collection, and referred to as 100% French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbon and French Oak Barrel Head Aged Bourbon.

But wait, doesn't bourbon have to be aged in a new charred American oak barrel? No, no it does not, despite how often we're told that.

The US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) defines bourbon as: 

BOURBON WHISKY: Whisky produced in the U.S. at not exceeding 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof) from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn and stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof) in charred new oak containers.

Want to make a bourbon aged in a sake masu box made from Brazilian oak ? Go right ahead, as long as you char it first. 


More info about the new Buffalo Trace bourbon:  These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each (375 ml bottles) and will be available in May, 2015. They are both 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof).