As the whiskey boom grows to include a variety of wood experiments, Buffalo Trace has announced Old Charter Oak, a new line of bourbons aged in exotic oak barrels.
By Federal standards, bourbon is required to be aged in a new, charred oak container. There is no specification for American white oak, it’s just that nearly all bourbons today are aged in that type.
Old Charter Oak will explore different oak options. Trees used 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 trees.
The new line begins with Mongolian Oak Bourbon, releasing this month. Next year there will be two other new releases, from oak trees harvested from other countries. 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,” says Kris Comstock, senior marketing director.
Mongolian Oak aged in barrels from trees grown in Mongolia, which were sourced by Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley in 2006. It was 2008 when the barrels finally arrived at Buffalo Trace and filled with Buffalo Trace’s Mash #1. Aged 10 years, the Mongolian Oak will taste different from bourbons aged in barrels made from traditional American white oak. Although not overpowering, this new whiskey is full bodied, the company says.
The suggested retail pricing for the 90-proof Mongolian Oak is $69.99 per 750-ml. bottle. The different oak varieties released over the years will have different price points, all in a similar range.
Old Charter Oak is packaged in an upscale package, glass bottle with a cork finish. Each bottle will have an oak medallion on the front depicting the Charter Oak tree.
The original Old Charter brand dates back to 1874, when Adam and Ben Chapeze created the bourbon, naming it in honor of the Charter Oak tree, a 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.