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Buffalo Trace White Dog (New Make Whiskey)

sku May 4, 2010 07:07 PM

Chasing the New Make: Buffalo Trace White Dog

There has been a lot of interest lately in unaged whiskey, alternately referred to as moonshine, white dog, white whiskey and new make. To clarify the terminology, moonshine is the name used for illegally distilled liquor, but to capitalize on the rebellious and romantic associations that the term conjures, several new distilleries are calling their unaged (legal) whiskeys moonshine. (Most illegal moonshines are actually made from sugar according to Max Watman, author of the recently released moonshine chronicle, Chasing the White Dog).

White dog is the name used by distillers for unaged American whiskey, and new make is a term meaning the same thing but used by Scotch and Irish distillers.

Legally, most unaged spirits cannot be called whiskey. In Scotland, a spirit must be aged for three years to be called whisky, and it is unclear whether unaged spirits can even include the name of the distillery on their label, hence Glenglassaugh's release of its new make under the label, The Spirit Drink that Dare not Speak its Name. In American whiskey, only corn whiskey can be bottled straight off the still without being stored in wood. All other whiskeys must be stored, for some time, in wooden containers.

Why the sudden interest in this type of spirit? There are likely several reasons. First is the proliferation of new microdistilleries. New distilleries that want to make Bourbon or rye have to age it, which deprives them of any immediate return on their investment. As a result, to get some immediate cash flow, many new micros release unaged spirits such as corn whiskey or white whiskey. The result has been a corn whiskey boom. For years, there were only one or two distilleries that produced unaged, American corn whiskey. Now, in the midst of a microdistilling boom, there are more than a dozen.

Second, the growth of whiskey connoisseurship has produced an interest in new make among whiskey aficionados. Tasting your favorite Scotch or Bourbon fresh off the still is an educational exercise which can give you new insight into how the whiskey matures and the dramatic effect of oak. Maker's Mark, in its whiskey tastings and master classes, has long offered samples of its white dog along side other samples of various ages of whiskey to shed light on the aging process. The logical next step was for distilleries to start bottling the stuff. Along with the previously mentioned Glenglassaugh, several Scotch distilleries are releasing new make as is the Buffalo Trace Bourbon distillery

Third, the cocktail/bar chef/mixology renaissance has led to the (re)introduction of all sorts of old and obscure spirits and cocktails. The release of these new make spirits fits right into that movement as recently chronicled by Watman in the Huffington Post.


As I noted, Buffalo Trace is now marketing their new make, White Dog spirit. When first released, it was only available in Kentucky and at Binny's, but it seems to be slowly spreading (I have yet to see it on the shelf in LA); it goes for around $17 for a 375 ml bottle. The Buffalo Trace white dog is made from their Mash #1, a low rye Bourbon mash which is the same grain combination used in Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and the legendary George T. Stagg Bourbon. It comes off the still and into the bottle at 62.5% alcohol.

The nose on this stuff has lots of sugar cane with a bit of a raw alcohol note. It smells much more like a white rum than any sort of Bourbon. The first thing that hits me is the syrupy mouthfeel and a surprisingly sweet flavor. Only at the end of the palate and on into the finish is there anything resembling whiskey. On that finish, I can feel the Bourbon and even a hint of rye spice.

The presence of rye is what separates the Buffalo Trace white dog from corn whiskey, which must be a whopping 80% corn and generally, doesn't include rye. In addition, the Buffalo Trace White Dog is cask strength, while most corn whiskey on the market hovers around 40% alcohol. Compared to corn whiskeys I've had, I definitely prefer the Buffalo Trace. The rye gives it a more complex flavor and the higher strength accentuates the flavor. Regular strength corn whiskey tastes pretty watered down and one dimensional in comparison.

I have to say, I quite enjoy this stuff, though it's more interesting as an academic exercise. It's hard to picture grabbing it off the shelf for a relaxing drink, more of a, "hey, you gotta' taste this" experience for Bourbon fans.


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  1. r
    ravchaz RE: sku May 5, 2010 05:50 AM

    We visited the distillery this summer and they were offering tastings of the white dog as well as BT and Eagle Rare. Most of the folks on the tour wouldn't even try it, but I loved it.

    I would have loved to buy a bottle but it was so expensive. I don't see how they can justify charging almost twice as much for unaged spirit as they do for their flagship bourbon, considering the loss of angel's share as well as the delayed return in investment. I couldn't bring myself to buy it and instead got 1.75 bottles of BT and ERSB 10.

    1. yarm RE: sku May 5, 2010 07:40 AM

      I have tasted a number of unaged whiskeys from several distilleries -- everything from corn heavy to rye heavy -- and it still doesn't do anything for me. Not interesting enough to sip and not interesting enough to mix with (sort of a malty vodka). I'm always willing to try more, but afterward, I return to the same conclusion.

      2 Replies
      1. re: yarm
        StriperGuy RE: yarm May 25, 2010 07:13 AM

        The Tuthilltown distillery product is amazing. On par with the best grappa, etc. I have ever had.

        1. re: yarm
          cacio e pepe RE: yarm Jun 8, 2010 11:18 AM

          Hey! What's wrong with malty vodka? :)

          I got a 375mL bottle of some white dog put out by House Spirits. That was exactly my impression of it. Probably had something to do with the 100% barley mash. I actually quite like it, but 375 mL of that stuff is gonna last me awhile. Just can't see craving it too often.

        2. ted RE: sku May 6, 2010 06:25 AM

          In case you missed it, the Times did an article on this yesterday:


          I've contemplated mail-ordering the Buffalo Trace just to try it. That said, they've just put the regular bottling on the shelves in ATL (finally). So, maybe I could convince someone to get a bottle in from the distributor.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ted
            ted RE: ted Sep 1, 2010 12:07 PM

            I finally managed to procure a bottle. Man is it hot- even with a good bit of water in it, I can't get past the alcohol heat.

            So, what do y'all suggest doing with this stuff?

            1. re: ted
              cacio e pepe RE: ted Sep 1, 2010 03:20 PM

              I've been doing "White Manhattans" with the Buffalo Trace. The House Spirits White Dog is AWESOME. Good enough to drink neat. The recipe I've been using is:

              1.5 oz. White dog
              0.5 oz. Dolin Blanc (a sweet white vermouth)
              A dash of orange bitters
              (A dash of Scrappy's Cardamom bitters because I had to start using them in SOMETHING)

              If you are a martini fan then it should be up your alley.

              1. re: cacio e pepe
                StriperGuy RE: cacio e pepe Sep 2, 2010 03:57 PM

                VERY nice concept.

              2. re: ted
                JMF RE: ted Sep 2, 2010 08:10 AM

                It's at barrel proof and shouldn't be drunk neat or with just a dash of water. To taste it you need to get it to drinking proof. You have to add a lot of water to get it down to drinking proof of around 60 proof you have to add more than 50% water.

                1. re: JMF
                  ted RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 03:56 PM

                  That's what I've been doing. Still not in love with the result. Will have to try the recipe.

                  1. re: ted
                    JMF RE: ted Sep 2, 2010 08:36 PM

                    I like Tuthilltown's corn whiskey better myself.

            2. JMF RE: sku May 6, 2010 08:29 AM

              earlier this week I was on the judging panel for the artisanal whiksey competition a few days ago at the annual artisanal distillers conference. there were around 8 in the unaged category from small distilleries. Universally the white whiskeys were getting higher scores than even the best aged whiskeys because of their clean and fresh tastes of corn, rye, wheat, or barley. It's a category that is growing rapidly.

              1. JohnE O RE: sku May 9, 2010 11:56 AM

                I was with a group of 12 friends on the bourbon trail. We all tried the White Dog and we all intensely disliked it. Too much corn flavor and aroma. I think it's definitely a 'love it or hate it' spirit.

                1. d
                  dwh RE: sku May 9, 2010 09:46 PM

                  On a trip through Covington Saturday I stopped at the Cork & Bottle (a fabulous retailer who always have several hand-chosen bottlings of single barrel whiskies on hand - - got a Weller 107 that was spirited, but with a wonderful cherry-like brightness, and a Buffalo Trace that was so complex and distinctive that you can't imagine buying a standard bottle after one like this) and they had the White Dog for about $15 the .375 bottle. I had fresh distillate once before at Makers Mark (where they let you taste it side-by-side with the finished product) and at the graduation fete in Oxford, OH it shook out like this: everybody loved sampling the White Dog. Those that also tried the barrel-select Buffalo Trace were wowed (at least those that had the chops to appreciate stellar bourbon), but the 62% corn sweet lightning made people bouyant and warmed the innards in a curiously joyful way. After the initial 62% jolt, it is surprisingly pleasant, nicely sweet, and you can even appreciate some spicy rye complexity - - it goes down happy. As did we.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dwh
                    s.m.d. RE: dwh May 16, 2010 11:27 AM

                    I found BT's White Trace for $15 in Nashville.
                    The sugar definitely comes through on the nose. I take my bourbon neat regardless of its proof so I thought White Dog would be right up my alley, but I won't be rushing out to buy more. Then again I prefer wheated over rye bourbons. If BT was to make some white dog from its Weller line I'd probably give it another shot.

                    1. re: s.m.d.
                      dwh RE: s.m.d. May 22, 2010 04:25 PM

                      I bought four bottles. I only sampled it on two occasions so far, but both next days were hell, pure hell. Is this why they age spirits? I'm selling off the two unopened bottles I still have and will keep a wary eye on the opened one.

                      1. re: dwh
                        sku RE: dwh May 22, 2010 06:28 PM

                        If both next days were pure hell, I'm guessing you did more than "sampled it."

                        1. re: dwh
                          JMF RE: dwh May 23, 2010 11:59 AM

                          how much water did you drink with it? One of the big errors people make with strong spirits is not hydrating enough. The white dog is 62.5% abv. That's barrel strength. The spirit is actually very clean, I saw the analysis, and I have drunk a large enough amount that if it wasn't I would have known. In most cases, unless it is pure rotgut, the reason people get hangovers is not drinking enough water with their spirits, or not watering them down enough.

                    2. w
                      wondertrev RE: sku Aug 10, 2010 12:56 PM

                      Tried some of a whim when I saw it at a liquor store near Toldeo (traveling from NY to ND). Maybe $15/pint. Owner said some folks said it was 'liquid cornbread." I can see where the were coming from, but found it quite smooth and easy to drink, even more so than some regular aged whiskeys (Rebel Yell, etc...). Don't know what it would mix with, but I'd gladly pick some up again if I could find it.

                      1. v
                        virgilpaul RE: sku Feb 9, 2014 08:08 AM

                        I picked up a bottle in Fargo, ND and just tried it. I have to say, anyone who grew up on a farm raising corn will immediately recognize the yeasty corn scent when you pop the cork. Brought back memories of the grainery and harvest for me. The flavor was a pleasant surprise too. Like you said, it's an educational novelty to share with friends.

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