Some explanation from Buffalo Trace's Kris Comstock: "In 1998 we acquired the Old Charter brand, along with a large inventory of barrels, approximately 150,000. In a recent audit of our barrel inventory, we found some barrels from this lot. One was empty, one tasted horrible, and the others tasted very nice. Of course we bottled the very nice barrels and are offering these rare finds under our Experimental Collection label."
There are three different offerings, distilled back in 1989, 1991 and 1993. In all instances, the still proof and entry proof are unknown. For me, the 1991 is the clear winner here. There's a deep candy character to the nose, with Sherry notes, and the flavor is rich, dark and nutty. The distillery's tasting note of black walnut is dead on. A very interesting Bourbon.
I thought the 1989 whiskey was slightly past it's prime. (Contrary to popular belief, whiskey doesn't just get better and better as it ages. Often it peaks and then heads south.) The primary characteristics of the 1989 were woody and tannic, as well as a heavy does of iodine, even some metallic notes. These pretty much overwhelm the vanilla and orange zest flavors.
The 1993 was something different altogether, sweeter and more candied than the others, and definitely more mellow and creamier. All are priced at $46 and are out in February.