Buffalo Trace Distillery tells BourbonBlog.com they are releasing Old Charter Oak Bourbon, a new collection of whiskeys to explore and celebrate the role oak plays in making great whiskey. Buffalo Trace Distillery began experimenting with this aspect about 15 years ago and took it to a completely new level, resulting in a re-imagined whiskey brand called Old Charter Oak.
The first release in this series is Mongolian Oak, a bourbon aged in barrels from trees grown in Mongolia, which were sourced by Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley in 2006. However, it was 2008 before the barrels arrived at Buffalo Trace and filled with Buffalo Trace’s Mash #1.
Aged 10 years and at 90 proof, the Mongolian Oak tastes vastly different from bourbons aged in barrels made from traditional American white oak, although not overpowering, this new whiskey is full bodied. “We know, from previous research we’ve done, how important oak is to the final taste profile.
The barrel is responsible for about 50% of the flavor profile in bourbon,” Harlen Wheatley tells BourbonBlog.com. “So it only made sense to take that one step further and see how different barrels from different oak tree varieties would taste in comparison to what we think of as ‘traditional’ oak barrels.”
The suggested retail pricing for the Mongolian Oak is $69.99. It will be available in December 2018 and supplies are said to be limited. The different oak varieties released over the years will have different price points, all in a similar range.
The Old Charter Oak Bourbon Collection
In 2019, there will be two other new releases, from oak trees harvested from other countries. There is a possibility these releases may be Chinquapin Oak and Two Century Oak as these bottles are featured in a promotional video (photo above).
Subsequent releases are planned a few times each year, indefinitely. “As of now, we have bourbon aging for the Old Charter Oak collection set for release now through 2030, but we’ll keep producing more each year for more new whiskeys beyond that,” Kris Comstock, senior marketing director tells BourbonBlog.com
While most bourbon whiskey is mainly aged in oak from the American Ozarks, Buffalo Trace Distillery’s curiosity if barrels made from oak trees grown in China, or Canada, or France would create bourbons with a different taste profile resulted in this collection.
By Federal standards, bourbon is required to be aged in a new, charred oak container. But there is no specification it must be American white oak, it’s just that nearly all bourbons made today are aged in white oak. This new Old Charter Oak line is an entire collection of bourbon aged in oak barrels from different oak varietals and is designed to explore, honor, and celebrate the role of oak in making great whiskey. The oak trees used for this brand will vary by country of origin, or species, or U.S. state. Some barrels are even made from century oaks, 100, 200, or 300-year-old oak trees.
History of Old Charter
The brand dates back to 1874. In fact, here is a 2010 review BourbonBlog.com did on Old Charter.
In 1874, Adam and Ben Chapeze created the bourbon, naming it in honor of the Charter Oak tree, a famous symbol of American independence and free spirit, which grew in Connecticut in the 12th or 13th century until it fell in a storm in 1856.
Old Charter changed owners a few times until it was purchased by Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999. The existing Old Charter Bourbon is still produced by parent company Sazerac and there are no plans to discontinue it. The Old Charter Oak series is an upscale brand extension, much like Buffalo Trace has done with its E. H. Taylor, Jr, line.
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