On the path to discover the perfect temperature recipe for Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon, the Warehouse X team has gathered and analyzed over six million data points related to temperature & its impact on the experimental barrels stored there. Already two and a half years along, we are finding the importance of temperature, the swings that happen naturally each year & temperature’s ability to affect the flavor of the whiskey inside those barrels.
To set up this experiment, the team set up the four chambers in the following ways. For reference, the breezeway sits in the middle of Warehouse X and is used as the constant variable for natural Kentucky temperatures as the seasons change. Currently, the two and a half year average temperature for the breezeway is around 66°F.
Chamber 1 Conditions: Plus 20°F from the constant (the breezeway)
• For example, if the breezeway is a beautiful 72°F, Chamber 1 would be a constant 20 degrees above that, or 92°F in this example.
Chamber 2 Conditions: Set at a constant 75°F
Chamber 3 Conditions: Set at a constant 63°F
Chamber 4 Conditions: Minus 20°F from the constant (the breezeway)
• For example, if the breezeway is a chilly 38°F during a Kentucky winter, Chamber 4 would be a constant 20 degrees below that, or 18°F in this example.
After setting up the chambers, the Distillery team wanted to look at how these temperatures effected barrel pressure over time. For the past two and a half years, there has been a constant measurement of barrel pressure (PSI) in each chamber & in the breezeway. For the non-engineers, PSI is simply a unit of pressure expressed in pounds of force per square inch of area. The higher the PSI, the more pressure. The lower the PSI, the less pressure.
We are finding there is a strong correlation between temperature, pressure & the color of the whiskey inside the barrel. The key findings will be around how much of a difference it makes. More to follow from us.
Next Steps for Temperature Experiment
The Warehouse X team will continue to monitor these barrels as they age for another six months. At that time, the barrels will be three years old and we can start to taste these whiskies, as they get a bit older. From this point forward, the team will do organoleptic testing on each of the chamber’s composites & use that information to understand any difference in flavor at any given point of the aging cycle given the specific temperature & pressure conditions of the barrel.