Buffalo Trace vs Bulleit – Find the Main Differences!

When it comes to whiskey, there are a lot of premium options out there for you to choose from. Every bottle of whiskey is made using a different combination of corn, rye, wheat, and a lot of other important ingredients. Depending on your specific flavor preference when it comes to whiskey, certain options may provide you with a more rewarding and satisfying experience when compared to other brands that are out on the market.

The location in which a certain type of whiskey is produced will play a huge role in its resulting taste and flavor which is why it’s important for you to keep these kinds of factors in mind before finalizing any purchase of whiskey that you choose. If you’re a veteran whiskey drinker, you probably already know about all of the must-have factors and elements to look for when choosing whiskey however for those relatively new whiskey drinkers, you’ll want to make sure that you pay attention.

The wonderful thing about whiskey is that there are so many different options for you to choose from out there, the other great thing about whiskey is that you can get a pretty good idea of its quality by simply looking at how it’s made and what goes into making them.

buffalo trace

There are a lot of different whiskey brands available in stores which can make deciding on which one is right for you a little bit of a challenge. One of the best indicators that you can look at to get a glimpse of the quality of a particular whiskey selection is the color.

The color of a whiskey selection will tell you a lot about the type of barrels used during the distillation process and the region in which is it produced. By looking at the color of any given whiskey selection, you’ll be able to get a good gauge of how deep and bold the flavors in the bottle really are.

Given all of the different aspects of whiskey selection that you must consider before making a final purchase decision, it can be a very difficult process. There are a lot of methods you can use in order to properly analyze and identify a premium whiskey selection without having to put too much time and effort into it. If you’ve been looking for a premium whiskey brand that has the right taste and flavor profile you’re looking for but have failed to find it yet, today is your lucky day.

In this guide, we’re going to compare two of the main and most popular whiskey brands out on the market today which are Buffalo Trace and Bulleit whiskey. Both of these brands have their own distinct history as it relates to how they produce their whiskey varieties and the ingredients used in their creation.

All of these various elements and factors will have an impact on the resulting taste and quality of the whiskey option that you choose. Make sure that you read each section in this article fully to ensure that you know the distinct differences which make both Bulleit and Buffalo Trace some of the leading whisker producers out on the market.

To begin, we’re going to look at some of the history surrounding each brand so that you can get a good understanding of what makes them so different at the core. We’re going to look at some of the key elements that went into the founding of each of these whiskey companies so that you can begin to form a good sense of the brand identity that each company fosters.

The Main Differences Between Bulleit vs Buffalo Trace

The main differences between Bulleit vs Buffalo Trace are:

  • Bulleit is made of two-thirds corn and one-third rye, whereas Buffalo Trace is made of corn, rye, and barley.
  • Bulleit tastes like nutmeg, oak, and maple, whereas Buffalo Trace tastes like vanilla, honey, and orange.
  • Bulleit is aged for ten years, whereas Buffalo Trace is aged for twelve years.

Behind the Whiskey: Bulleit

bulleit whiskey

Bulleit whiskey was founded in 1987 By Thomas E Bulleit who had a mission to refresh his family recipe for bourbon. Around the same year, Thomas would go on to start and open Bulleit Distilling Company where he would continue the recipe of his grandfather Augustus Bulleit who began making high-rye bourbon whiskey around the 1830s-1860s.

Once his grandfather was no longer here, Thomas proceeded to leave his very successful law practice in order to begin producing whiskey on the frontier like his ancestors. Augustus Bulleit was transporting one of his first batches of Bulleit whiskey one day from Kentucky and New Orleans when he mysteriously disappeared. Until this day, nobody knows what happened to him however that hasn’t stopped his grandson Thomas Bulleit from continuing the family legacy.

Bulleit bourbon whiskey is created using a very high-rye mixture that infuses a very deep and bold flavor to the whiskey overall. Bulleit bourbon whiskey is filtered using limestone-filtered water and charred American oak barrels in order to infuse that classic taste that we all know and love.

Bulleit bourbon whiskey is aged until it’s fully ready which is what makes it such a unique bourbon option that you won’t find in many other selections out on the market. One of Bulleit whiskey’s most popular whiskey options available is made from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% barley which makes it a very interesting bourbon selection.

Behind the Whiskey: Buffalo Trace

buffalo trace whiskey

In 1811, there was a 3-story stone warehouse built near the Kentucky river and it was designed to hold several barrels of whiskey in addition to other precious goods. In 1858, the warehouse was upgraded with a distillery which was built by Daniel Swigert, in 1870, Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor purchased the distillery and named it after the type of wood still believed to be the best for whiskey production at the time.

In 1872, Taylor invested about $70,000 into the distillery to upgrade its efficiency and production rate. In 1878, the distillery was purchased by George T. Stagg along with a livestock farm that was near the site of the distillery. Warehouse A and B from the original build site is still in operation today as a testament to how well-built the initial structures were.

In 1882, the distillery was hit by a very large fire that burned it to the ground, later on, it was quickly rebuilt in an even much bigger manner. The original fermenting device and distiller unit is still standing today which is what gives Buffalo Trace such a unique taste. In the 1900s, the gilded age ended and Albert B. Blanton was set as the Still House Warehouse chief, in 1904, the distillery was refinished and officially named the George T. Stagg distillery.

In 1984, the distillery released the first “Blanton” brand whiskey product which was a single-barrel bourbon option. In 1999, the distillery was renovated and officially named the “Buffalo Trace” distillery where the new brand for the whiskey would eventually be launched. In 2000, the Buffalo Trace Distillery won the “Distillery of the Year” award by Whiskey Advocate and became the first American whiskey company to win the international award. In 2015, Buffalo Trace whiskey expanded their production facility to over 400 acres.

Now that you know a little bit more about how Buffalo Trace and Bulleit whiskey came into existence, it’s time to take a close look at the production process of each brand of whiskey to see why people love them so much. Below, we’re going to take an in-depth look at how each brand of whiskey is produced and how the various ingredients used have an impact on the taste and flavor that you enjoy when consuming the brand.

How It’s Made: Bulleit and Buffalo Trace Whiskey

distillery

Bulleit and Buffalo Trace whiskey use very special fermentation and production processes in order to deliver the great tasting whiskey that you know and love. To help you make an informed decision about which whiskey brand is best for you, we’ll have to take a look at how each brand produces their whiskey so that you’ll be able to determine which ingredients you’ll enjoy the most. We’re going to take a very deep look at the production process of both whiskey options below so you’ll know what to look for when out buying your favorite whiskey selection.

Bulleit: The Production Process

Bulleit whiskey uses a very unique process and mash of wheat grains in order to achieve the overall taste and flavor profile that you love. Bulleit whiskey is made using 100% pure ingredients and soft red winter wheat that adds a full-body and very spicy taste to the end results of Bulleit whiskey. Red winter wheat provides a very sweet flavor that is most notable at the front of your tongue or pallet.

For filtration, Bulleit whiskey uses nothing but natural limestone water native to the location of the distillery which is Kentucky. Bulleit whiskey is the only distillery that has its own watershed and water source. The natural limestone water created by the limestone shelf in Kentucky helps to filter out iron from the water supply that is used during the whiskey fermentation process.

The limestone water near the Bulleit distilleries is also very rich in magnesium and calcium, this mixture allows the mash to create a sour yield that is perfect for making yeast grow. The main thing that separates Bulleit whiskey different from other options available on the market is the specialized yeast strain that is used during its fermentation process. Bulleit uses a very unique yeast strain that is more than 150yrs old and it is stored in specialized, the yeast used in Bulleit whiskey is aged in very special tanks that are made from cypress planks which are more than 100yrs old.

Bulleit also uses a double barrel distillation process which helps to remove the impurities from the whiskey in order to provide you with a smooth and refined drink. Bulleit took the time to contact a custom builder who made exact replicas of the same barrels that were used when Thomas Jr. started the business so that everything remains as close to original as possible.

Bulleit whiskey also takes the time to rotate all of their barrels around by hand so that each bottle gets exposed to the varying temperatures and climate changes inside of the rack house. The whiskey is then monitored to ensure that it matures at the right rate, the barrels that Bulleit whiskey is made in are charred for only 40secs which allows the barrels wooden pores to open up leading to the vanilla flavor profile that is so dominant in Bulleit whiskey.

Buffalo Trace: The Production Process

buffalo trace whiskey with glass

Buffalo Trace whiskey selections are created and filtered using Kentucky spring water that has been used in its production since 1866. Buffalo Trace whiskey is filtered using natural limestone water that comes from a cave 2ft in depth. This water helps remove any potentially harmful chemicals from the final whiskey mix and to provide the consumers with a more refined and natural product.

In order to achieve that signature taste and flavor that Buffalo Trace is known for, the whiskey starts by burning a 2000-degree fire in order to make the charcoal which will be used to mellow the whiskey. This entire process is very labor intensive and exhausting however it is still the method used today by Buffalo Trace distilleries in order to provide a top-shelf premium whiskey selection.

Buffalo Trace whiskey also uses a very unique mix of barley, rye, and corn that produced a 140-proof distilled whiskey that is delectable on the tongue. The whiskey is then left to mellow for 3-5 days using the charcoal created by burning the wood at high temperatures. The end result is that great-tasting whiskey that everyone loves so much. The whiskey is then sifted through 10ft od sugar maple in order to give it a smooth and rich flavor and texture. Buffalo Trace distilleries make their very own barrels for whiskey production so that each bottle is unique to their fermentation process.

Now that you know a little bit more about how Buffalo Trace and Bulleit whiskey are made, it’s time to look at some of the key ingredients of any whiskey blend that you select. Every bourbon whiskey selection out on the market is made up of a few key ingredients which comprise its main flavor and overall taste. Below, we’re going to look at all of those factors that play an important role in the production of whiskey so that you know what to look for when choosing the right whiskey option for you.

Different Bourbon Whiskey Elements

whiskey in glass

While every bourbon type uses different types of fermentation and production means, they all incorporate the same base ingredients so it’s important to know what those are. Make sure that you pay attention to all of the factors included with whiskey production so that you know exactly what to look for when choosing which whiskey selection is right for you. We’ll take a look at all of the vital factors in whiskey making so let’s get started.

Sour Mash

Sour mash is a term used in whiskey production that references the used of pre-fermented mash that comes from a previously distilling season which is then used in the fermentation and production of a new whiskey batch. The process is very beneficial in the fermentation and production of whiskey because it helps to prevent the growth of wild yeast in the new batch of whiskey, it also helps reduce the odds of infection inside of the new whiskey batch.

High Rye

When you hear the term, high rye used in relationship to whiskey, it means that the particular whiskey in question was made with above-average levels of mash that largely consisted of rye. Rye is often used as a substitute to other common grains such as wheat, barley, or corn, this is done to produce more of a flare and spice to the bourbon that is being produced.

Wheated

If you hear the term heated when talking about whiskey, it means that the bourbon whiskey in question was created using a mash that contained an above average level of wheat in the mixture. This process is used to achieve more of a lighter and less spicy flavor and taste within any given whiskey variety.

Bottled in Bond

In order for a bourbon whiskey product to be considered “bottled in bond” it must be produced within one distillation season and it must be distilled by only one distiller in one distillery location. Once the whiskey is produced according to these specifications, it must be stored in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years and it must be 100 proof at the date of bonding.

The whiskey must then be labeled with the distillery in which it was produced in addition to the location of where the whiskey product was initially bottled. This entire process produces some of the finest whiskey available on the market so if you’re looking for premium whiskey options, choose those that have a bottle in a bond label.

Straight Bourbon Whiskey

In order for a whiskey product to qualify as straight bourbon whiskey, it must be stored in new charred oak barrels for at least two years or more. Straight bourbon whiskey can contain two or more mixtures of straight bourbon whiskey varieties which can add to the overall flavor profile and taste of the whiskey.

All of the whiskey varieties used in the production of straight bourbon whiskey must be distilled and produced by distillers that are located in the same state. Once a whiskey goes through all of these processes, it can be legally considered a straight bourbon whiskey.

Bourbon Whiskey

In order for a whiskey to qualify as a bourbon whiskey, it must be produced in the United States and not exceed a total alcohol volume of at least 80 percent which is 160 proof. The whiskey must also be fermented from a mash that uses at least 51% corn; the whiskey must also be stored at 62.5 percent alcohol content in new charred oak barrels.

There are several different methods used in the production of whiskey varieties all of which have an impact on the overall taste and flavor profile that you receive from any given whiskey selection. If you’re new to the world of whiskey, there are a lot of terms and slang phrases that you’ll want to get familiar with if you plan on becoming an expert at picking out premium bourbon selections. Whiskey comes in various different forms all of which center around the basic way that it is created, fermented, and stored.

Now we’re going to take a look at some of the ways that whiskey is produced in various regions across the world. Whiskey is made using various types of wood barrels and other fermentation techniques, below, we’re going to take a look at some of the core elements involved with making the premium whiskey selections that you drink on a regular basis.

How Bourbon Is Made

bourbon glass

Let’s take a close look at all of the steps involved with making whiskey so that you know how the bottle that you’re drinking made its way to the shelves. We’re going to take a close look at how whiskey is made so that you can understand how all of the steps affect the end taste of your whiskey selection.

Step One

To start making bourbon whiskey, you must first harvest grains, corn, wheat, rye, and a lot more. All of these natural grains and plants vary in terms of flavor and taste due to the various regions and locations in which they are grown.

Bourbon whiskey must contain at least 51% corn before it can be legally sold as whiskey however many distillers use contents of up to 70% corn in some of their mash bill for whiskey. Once the mixture is of wheat, corn, and rye is gathered, it’s time to add water to the overall mash in order to begin producing the beginning stages of what is known as bourbon whiskey.

Water from local rivers and other water sources near the distillery location are used and combined to the overall wheat mixture so that it can be cooked at a later date. Natural spring water is typically added to the overall mash bill mixture of the bourbon whiskey in question and then it is processed in cooking.

Step 2

The second step of making bourbon whiskey includes combining water and the mash bill you’ve created into what is known as a grain cooker. Once the grain mash is put into the grain cooker, it will be cooked at approximately 30mins depending on the specific type of bourbon whiskey being made.

During the cooking process, all of the grains and wheat combinations added to the initial bourbon whiskey mix will begin to germinate creating sugar which will be a critical factor in the fermentation process later on in this article. The amount of time that a particular grain mash cooks will be determined by the distiller so it varies by the bottle, however, each grain mash is carefully watched in order to ensure that it is cooked to perfection.

Step 3

There are various different types of yeast options available out on the market all of which add their own unique taste and overall flavor profile to whatever whiskey selection you’re consuming. The specific type of yeast used in the production of the whiskey selection that you decide to drink will play a huge role in how the end resulting bourbon will taste.

Yeast is such an important element to the bourbon whiskey making process that some distillers have gone as far as filing patents for their isolated yeast types. Once the yeast is ready, it’s time to begin the fermentation process of your selected bourbon whiskey option.

Step 4

 After the bourbon mash is cooked and heated up, it will then be cooled down to about 86 degrees Fahrenheit so that the fermentation process can begin. Before the fermentation process begins, stillage is then added to the bourbon whiskey mash for extra flavor. Fermentation drums can vary in size from large to giant depending on the size of the whiskey batch being created.

While the size of the fermenting batch can have an impact on its overall flavor, it won’t be very noticeable to the novice whiskey drinker. Once the fermentation process is complete, it’s time for the resulting fluid to be distilled.

Step 5

Distillation stills and columns are used to purify the fermented liquid mentioned in the previous step. The specific temperature of the liquid being fermented will vary by distiller and the specific process by which the bourbon whiskey is being made. The entire distillation process works to separate the alcohol contents from the rest of the fluids contained in the mixture so depending on the proof content and alcohol level that the distiller is aiming for, this process will and can vary in length.

Most whiskey distillation stills are made using copper so the entire process works a lot smoother and is a lot more refined than other selections out on the market. This is the step in which all of those wonderful flavors from the grains used will come out and really make themselves known in your selected bourbon whiskey option. Now that the distillation process is finished, it’s time for the mash to be turned into a sour mash.

Step 6

Bourbon whiskey that is produced today typically goes through a process known as sour mash. This process takes the residual whiskey mash byproduct left from the distillation then adds it to the newly distilled mix. This process typically adds a little extra flavor and taste to the overall whiskey selection that you choose. The pH balance within the natural spring water added to the mix gives is a refined and fresh taste. Once the entire fermentation and production process is finished, it’s time for the whiskey to be aged and placed in barrels.

Step 7

The type of wood and other material used in the construction of the barrels that your whiskey selection will be placed in can vary depending on the distillery. Most distilleries use white oak for their bourbon whiskey barrels and before the bourbon whiskey solution is placed into the barrels, the barrels are first toast with fire. This brings out the flavors buried within the wood material that the barrels are made out of.

Once the bourbon whiskey is placed inside of the barrels, it will sit for a predetermined amount of time set by the distiller. This process is known as aging and it helps further infuse the natural oak, wheat, rye, corn, and yeast flavors used in the production stage into the final bourbon whiskey product.

Top Buffalo Trace & Bulleit Whiskey Recommendations

Both Buffalo Trace and Bulleit whiskey offer various different types of whiskey selections that you can choose from. Below, we’re going to take a look at some of the top whiskey option from both brands so that you can decide on which whiskey selection is best for you.

All of the recommendations listed below will vary in terms of the ingredients and production process. While you should use our recommendations as great starting points, always do your own research to find the right bottle for you.

Top Bulleit Recommendation

Bulleit Rye

bullet rye whiskey

Bulleit Rye whiskey is a very bold straight rye whiskey that has hints of spice and other unique flavors. It has won several awards since its release in 2011 and it still remains as one of the leading whiskey selections in the world. Bulleit Rye has won the 2013 Double Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and it also won the 2012 gold medal from the beverage testing institute.

This particular whiskey has a very rich oak color and smell that is very powerful yet very subtle, Bulleit Rye is a really smooth whiskey selection that contains lots of spice, vanilla, and honey all of which add a very nice and smooth balance to the overall whiskey mix. Bulleit Rye has a very crisp taste that is clean and has a very rich lingering effect on the tongue. It is 90 proof and contains 45% ABV, the mixture contains 95% rye and 5% malted barley which is why it’s such a powerful whiskey blend. If you’re looking for a premium whiskey selection that is nice and smooth, Bulleit Rye is the perfect option for you. Price: $49.99.

Top Buffalo Trace Recommendation

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection

 

Buffalo Trace experimental collection contains over 22,000 different possible whiskey barrel combinations all of which provide a distinct taste and flavor to the bottle that you select. Every barrel of whiskey used in the Buffalo Trace whiskey collection contains different mash bill, wheat, and wood barrels just to name a few.

Buffalo Trace experimental collection tastes vary depending on the type of warehouse conditions and climates during the specific production phase of any particular whiskey option. The Buffalo Trace experimental whiskey collection is the perfect choice for anyone that is looking for a new and unique whiskey selection. Price: $89.99 Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection

Conclusion

Use all of the information in this guide to help you find the right whiskey selection for your taste buds and flavor preference. There are a lot of different whiskey brands available in stores which can make deciding on which one is right for you a little bit of a challenge. One of the best indicators that you can look at to get a glimpse of the quality of a particular whiskey selection is the color.

The color of a whiskey selection will tell you a lot about the type of barrels used during the distillation process and the region in which is it produced. By looking at the color of any given whiskey selection, you’ll be able to get a good gauge of how deep and bold the flavors in the bottle really are. As long as you use all of the tips used in this guide, you should be able to find the right whiskey selection in no time.

Start enjoying whiskey the way that it was intended and take in all of the natural elements that went into making your whiskey option of choice. Whiskey is a wonderful liquor option that has endless opportunities and abilities to give you the perfect flavor combination you’re looking for.

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Ben Holt

Ben has years of experience with wine, whiskey, and scotch. After becoming a wine sommelier, he decided to focus his attention on the dark southern gold we call whiskey. Now a seasoned vet in the whiskey game, he regularly provides Whiskey Watch with the latest whiskey info and his personal opinion on the best whiskeys in the world.
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