The name Buffalo Trace recalls the pioneering spirit and the brave men and women who moved westwards and settled along the shores of the Kentucky River, where, back in the days, the buffalo’s traces and trails could be followed. Today, Buffalo Trace Distillery proudly sits on that same land and produces some of the most iconic whiskey brands in the United States.
Looking at the visual appearance first, this bourbon offers a shimmering golden amber color with just a smear of viscosity detectable. The legs are running down the side of the glass in a rather fast way. Given the fact that the liquid is 40% alcohol by volume or 80 proof in the United States, and can not be colored or sugared, one couldn’t expect an overly heavy or oily viscosity.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon’s Nose
Notes: Apple, mint, caramel
The first aroma off of the glass is gorgeously mellow, with fruity undertones, heavily leaning towards green and red apples. The opening note intermingled with a velvety orange peel and lemon zest combination.
There’s quite a bit of mint freshness to the bouquet as well, gently lifting the overall perception to an ethereal level. Only then, does the more traditional bourbon sweetness of corn, roasted grains, charred wood, and caramel sweetness become prominent.
With sprinkles of coconut flakes and vanilla cream in the mix, the soft and gentle aroma soothes the senses.
Overall though, it’s not an overly sweet or sticky nose, but rather a lively array of zesty freshness and apple mint that makes you come back for another sniff.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon’s Palate & Mouthfeel
Primary Taste: Sweet-sour
Opening: Kumquat, red apple, marzipan
Heart: Vanilla, coconut flakes, charred oak
Finish: Medium [mint, pepper, nougat]
As described with the olfactory perception, the palate and mouthfeel share a story of mint freshness and liveliness, besides caramel and honey, making you come back for more over and over again.
Right from the beginning, the orange note is present, even though it feels more like a bitter kumquat essence. Noticeably enough, a lavish smear of marzipan is thrown in for good measure, slowly fading into hints of white chocolate and nougat.
The second layer then reveals the traditional and typical vanilla sweetness, coconut chips, all encompassed in roasted white oak. Whilst the mellow sweetness has a warming and charming effect on the tongue, the overall sensation is elevated by dry woodiness, reminding me of heavily charred wood staves, and blackened birch ash.
All these various components are well integrated with each other. Whilst this is not an overly complex bourbon or a whiskey that will sit on your tongue for hours, it’s still a very pleasant, charming, and balanced spirit.
How To Drink Buffalo Trace Bourbon
As a matter of fact, this is a rather versatile bourbon, particularly suitable for mixing cocktails and long drinks.
I typically pour this with some ginger ale, over large chunks of ice with a piece of orange zest as garnish.
Because of the mint notes that are present on both the olfactory and gustatory perception, you should try this as the base for the Mint Julep.
Besides the aforementioned Mint Julep, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds with Buffalo Trace as a base offer a gentle and charming character.
If you decide to mix an Old Fashioned, try a slight variation using Fair Kumquat. We did a separate review on that particular triple sec, featuring a distinct bitter orange and fresh kumquat sensation.
Bourbon & Ginger Ale
Best Pairings With Buffalo Trace Bourbon
A handful of plain, simple corn snacks or tortilla chips would make for a lovely combination with this bourbon whiskey. This seems to be an obvious choice, given that bourbon has to be a minimum of 51% corn in the mash bill, however it proves to be a delicious pairing indeed.
Despite me being cautious when pairing spirits and cigars, Buffalo Trace bourbon with its gentleness and freshness graciously accompanies a variety of cigars. I decided to light up an A.J. Fernandez New World Connecticut, featuring a creamy, bitter-sweet Connecticut shade wrapper. I wouldn’t recommend an overly complex, heavy, or spicy cigar because it could easily overshadow the bourbon whiskey.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
The bottle shape of Buffalo Trace always stands out from the back bar, since it’s bulkier and broader-shouldered than most other 75cl bottles. The iconic shape and design, with the buffalo, proudly showcased center-top, make for a rather inviting overall experience. The combination of amber-colored liquid and a playful label design is well executed.
It is sealed with a trusty old cork, which is then wrapped in metal foil. In all honesty, I think these thin sheets of aluminum are an absolute disaster and can be treacherous little cutters – much to the regret of your hands’ wholesomeness.
Generally speaking, Buffalo Trace Bourbon offers a great bang for your buck. This is a very affordable spirit, resulting in an excellent price-value ratio.
While it’s not the most complex sipping whiskey, Buffalo Trace delivers on many different levels. It offers a distinct flavor profile as well as versatility and charm, all at an affordable price.
Reinhard Pohorec is a sensory expert and experience designer with a unique reputation as an emerging talent in the world of sensory technology, luxury brands, premium cigars and beverages. Entrepreneur, creative mind and host, he specializes in staging exceptional experiences, educational programs, coaching and hospitality project management for leading companies on a global level.
With a focus on the multi-sensory, he creates memorable and inspirational experiences to educate like-minded epicurians. He’s a contributing author to international publications, a tasting panelist for various global platforms as well as the founder and host of Light 'Em Up.