Buffalo Trace Review

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Review

Not too long ago famed whiskey expert Jim Murray called Buffalo Trace the best distillery in the world and it’s kind of hard to argue with that. They make phenomenal products which include their namesake Buffalo Trace Bourbon, the entire Van Winkle line, the famed Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and the Weller bourbons, to name a few. On top of that they are constantly experimenting with every factor in the bourbon process they can with the goal of making the perfect bourbon. One has to admire such fervor.

Buffalo Trace is also one of the oldest distilleries in America with the Burk Distillery (where Maker’s Mark is made) being the only one older. Buffalo Trace claims they are the oldest since distilling was taking place on the Buffalo Trace site 30 years before Burk, though there is some argument about if that counts. Either way Old Forester currently holds the record for longest continuously distilled bourbon since it made it through prohibition by being categorized as a medicinal whiskey and in the end isn’t that what really matters?

Oldest or second oldest distillery all that really matters is the product that comes out of it and when it comes to Buffalo Trace that product is good. Damn good one might say. Easily the most robust, versatile, full bodied, full flavored and well balanced bourbon in the $20-$25 range. For my palate, and my wallet, it’s really hard to beat and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’ve had the awesomeness that is Buffalo Trace add your own notes and thoughts in the comments below.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Review

ABV: 45%
Distiller: Buffalo Trace

Caramel with a bit of reddish gold

Buffalo Trace has a wonderful aroma filled with caramel, citrus peels, honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, marzipan and hints of oak and corn. The vanilla is a bit subdued, but when it appears it’s a nice surprise.

I’ve always been able to taste both the corn and rye in Buffalo Trace and I love it. Along with the corn and rye is a big dose of caramel followed by hints of toffee, burnt sugar (brulee), honey, cinnamon and pepper. There are some hints of dark fruit and, again, subdued vanilla and a nice oaky underpinning to the entire flavor.

As smooth and effortless as a 90 proof can be.

Long woody finish punctuated by caramel, toffee, under ripe citrus and vanilla.

SCORE: 91/100


Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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79 Responses to Buffalo Trace Review

  1. This is the bourbon that started it for me. Too bad it’s crept up in price over the last couple of years. My go-to sipping whiskey has moved to Wild Turkey 101, but Buffalo Trace is a great spirit.

  2. BT is the epitome of KY Bourbon meant to be enjoyed neat. It has a punch but is not astringent in any way. Not overly sweet, you taste the age and the char. The flavor alone can give someone who has never been to KY or toured a distillery a great visual on what bourbon heritage is all about.

  3. I’m new to whiskey drinking, and picked this up to try. I like it. The nose is a bit harsh at first , but after breathing a little it opens up with oak, Carmel,and I smell some mint in it. The taste is creamy and the Carmel comes out for me. I can’t pick out much as far as aromas and tastes go, but what I can pick out pleases me. The finish has some pepper at the back of the throat which is a bit of a surprise for me. All in all I will be buying this one again.


  4. I agree with Otis, nose is a bit harsh at first, but opens very nicely.

    I taste the corn, agree with the big dose of Carmel and hint of toffee.

    Very easy drinking bourbon.

    I did have it on the rocks. This was the first bourbon of three whisky tasting. Followed by Baby Blue by Balcone and a Four Roses single barrel. The Buffalo fit my taste the best. I’ll be grabbing a bottle soon.

    Love reading your reviews !

  5. For me, one of the best bang for buck bourbons available. For $45 a 1.75lt, this is required for any beginner, and good for any novice as well. I get the harsh alcohol nose initially as well, but let it sit and that smoothes out. Carmel, brown sugar, and a good but not over done rye spice. This will always be in my cabinet. And you can actually find it everywhere.

  6. For me there is no other Bourbon.I have tried them all high price and low been fair and honest in every review.Buffalo Trace is just so well balanced so easy on taste and finish.The quality of product is off the chart.Yet for some reason in the big time bright lights of reviews it gets lost on the last page.Buffalo Trace Bourbon is without a doubt IMHO the best Bourbon in America.
    If you have not tried it you have missed out on greatness to drink neat it needs no help.And if you are in Frankfort KY…. DO take the tour you will NOT be disappointed .

    • I also agree! It’s been such a front runner in my opinion that I have trouble justifying the higher priced stuff. $50 bottle better be twice as good as buffalo trace or I’d rather have two bottles of trace. Haha W.L. Weller got 95/100. Josh, help me find this stuff! I gotta taste a 95. Great blog man! I consult it literally every time I shop for a new bottle to try.

  7. The 40% neat didn’t make an impression on me, and fast went into Old Fashioned’s. However, we recently got access to the 45% in Australia again, and it is a completely different league. Your tasting notes are bang on, I ticked the boxes on each of these, and would add a tobacco background notes in the finish as well. 91 is right for me too.

    This is more sessionable and balanced than the Eagle Rare which is another favourite as it delivers the dark dried fruit, leather and tobacco in spades to settle in with. Sad about the price though, $85 for a litre is steep but comparable for other 45% abv, but that is due to domestic taxation, not the company. Highly recommended!

  8. I’ve heard great things about Buffalo Trace (including this review). I came across a single-barrel offering from Sherlock’s in Kennesaw, GA and purchased a 1.75 L for $39.99. I am blown away at how good this dram is. It’s not complex, but is very open an enjoyable with caramel, a warming cinnamon spice with a medium long finish. I have been drinking Knob Creek Single Barrel, Eagle Rare, WT101. This may be my new everyday favorite – just hope I’ve not been spoiled by an incredible single barrel selection.

  9. This has always been a favorite. I was driving thru New Hamshire today and picked up some Single Barrel Select (barrel 89) at the state liquor store for $24.99…….I’m drinking it now and I have to say this is the best bottle of Buffalo Trace I have ever tasted….I like Blantons, and this bottle tastes better than the Blantons I have had as crazy as that sounds. I only bought two bottles. I may make the hour and a half drive up and get a case…..love this distillery….

    • Hey Jeff,

      I have a single barrel from a local store here in L.A. that I like even more than the standard release so I understand. Whenever I find a single barrel I really like I always buy at least 2 bottles. Though in one instance I bought a case!


      • I’m a cocktail bartender, and favour buffalo over anything in my mixes (I understand that mixing such a fine bourbon with anything will be seen as heresy by your readers…but as long it’s done sensitively it can be a wonderful endeavour). What I’d like to know however, is which single barrel bottling compelled you to buy a case?

        • You can’t ruin good booze with a good cocktail 🙂 I’m a cocktail lover as well! The one I loved the most so far was a K&L selection from about 2 years ago.

  10. Josh,
    I’m new to your site and I love it. My choice in bourbon has centered around Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Bulleit and Buffalo Trace. While Woodford’s Double Oaked is my favorite, I find its price on the outrageous side. My #2 choice has been Buffalo Trace, and it is the lowest priced of all the above. Far and away it’s my go-to bourbon, so I’m so glad your review of BT parallels mine! I look forward to reading more of your work.

    One last thought…is there any way to getting a complete list of all your rankings? I would love to start at the top and sample all the best whiskeys.

    • Hi Charley,

      Thank you! I agree that BUffalo Trace is amazing, and well priced, love the stuff. I don’t have a full list of whiskeys and ratings, but I am working on something like that for the site.


  11. I’m pretty new to whiskey…(had some shots to cure my winter cough and enjoyed it so much, I gained a new hobbie!) I bought some Buffalo Trace tonight because of your review. Sip after sip, this is a great whiskey! This is the first whiskey I’ve really enjoyed sipping (neat). And the finish, Lovely! You can really end the night with this one. Thanks for all the reviews!

  12. Such a great bourbon, awesome price and still very complex. With the strong flavors and value price it can also make a great cocktail and will still be able to stand out with all of its sweet and oak flavors, particularly the burnt sugar notes I get with this whiskey just blow me away!

  13. Excellent stuff. On top of the usual “desert” flavors, I also pick up a faint and pleasantly interesting herbal flavor. Thanks for the recommendation.

  14. Ok, Josh. You rate this a 91 and WT101 at 90. Similar prices. I’d like to know if you had to pick just one between BT and WT101, which do you choose (i’ve tried neither)? Thanks man. Really enjoy your site.

    • Oh man you’re putting me in a tough spot. I love these two a lot and I’m never without a bottle of both in the house. The WT101 is spicier while the BT is a bit sweeter… If I was looking at them on the shelf though and had to pick one I’d probably go with the WT101 though. It’s been my most reliable go-to for so long it’s hard not to grab it.


  15. Just received this as a gift and finally got to enjoy it. Nice light aroma of honey and cinnamon, little bit of a oak and vanilla. As good as I hoped it would be. Very balanced and smooth. Too bad I waited so long to try this great bourbon.

  16. Had a chance to tour the Distillery early this year. Recommend going to the first one of the day- I had a private tour!

    This and Eagle Rare are my go to Bourbons now.

  17. Several months ago I bought this bourbon on a whim. Now, it is the standard to which I compare all the other bourbons. Are there better bourbons, sure. Do they cost 50.00 plus a bottle, yep. So here I am sipping, neat, the best tasting bourbon for 25.00 on the planet. Yes there are better but at what cost? The sweetness, the carmel notes, the perfect balance and smoothness. This is my favorite bourbon, and it will be some time, I suppose before it is replaced, if ever. It deserves your praise and rating. Long live Buffalo Trace.

  18. This is by far my favorite bourbon, fantastic value, my daily drinker. Unfortunately its getting quite hard to find here in KS, everyone is reporting a shortage. Can you recommend a similar alternative in the same under $25 range?? Thanks

    • I love Wild Turkey 101 and even though it’s not as strong the Four Roses Yellow Label is another great whiskey. If you’re looking for something with a similar low-rye mashbill check out Fighting Cock or even Evan William’s Bottle in Bond.

  19. I live in Louisville, so I am no stranger to Bourbon. BT is and has been my go to Bourbon for years. Love it, picked up a bottle for 22 dollars today, they had the 1.75 for $34

  20. This has become my favorite bourbon. I agree about the mix of corn and rye flavors – a bit of sweetness followed by a little spicy kick. At the price, it’s a huge value. When I am going on a long fishing trip to the middle of nowhere I pack this.

  21. Just finished a bottle and had some amazing afternotes, through and through. Starts out vanilla and finished with BANANA! Most amazinf i have ever tasted. hope I can find another

  22. I find all Buffalo products excellent. Also, try a bottle of LARCENY. In Texas, they are in the same price range..$25 which is such a great bargain. I have tried all the “name and high priced” bottles and find these are the best! Weller 12 and Buffalo Trace good as Pappy’s ever were. Wheated bourbons rule.

  23. After my first taste of this, I went out the next day to buy another bottle. I have several bourbons I always want on hand depending on the mood, but this one I never want to run out of in my bar. WT101, Four Roses small batch, Russell’s Reserve, Evan Williams BIB for cheap nights, and now BT is enough to keep this guy content.

    Really enjoy the reviews for entertainment and education.

  24. For quality to price ratio, BT is unbeatable. For some reason, it’s super hard to find in stock in NC. However, I have been able to score a bottle here and there–including another one just today!–by getting a “Psst. You want some Buffalo Trace?” from the stock guy who saw me perusing the bourbon aisle at the ABC store. Actually, my last two bottles were obtained this way, at two different stores (!). It flies off the shelves, so they don’t even bother putting it out or leaving an empty shelf spot for it.

    Is it hard to obtain elsewhere? I don’t get it.

    Regardless, it’s a premium bourbon at a reasonable price. I’d put it up there with WT’s higher end stuff–the Russell Reserves and what have you.


  25. Ah, creme brulee; that’s what I’ve been tasting in here. You’re right. I was trying to explain it rather like a good rice pudding: mildly sweet, a bit savory, with a cooling, cleansing effect on the mouth. This is behind the caramel and the oak, of course.

    Delicious stuff.

  26. Josh,
    I was turned on to this by my brother in law a few years ago, decent bourbon at a good price, I think as I age and have been into bourbon for over 20 years, I have grown to see what a wonderful thing it is to have so many different bourbons and flavor profiles to choose from.

    Your blog is wonderful, and not caught up in the price = quality dynamic, as there is a wave across all spirits to find value, and expose the man behind the curtain of price/quality hype. You reminded me of wild turkey 101, which I had been unexplainably putting off my try it list, even though I am a big Hunter S. Thompson fan. You and the good Doctor are 100% correct, and when I scored the 175ml for $29.99 I was in Turkey heaven.

    My grandfather owned a bar in working class Philadelphia during the 50’s and 60’s, and Canadian whiskey was the rage and bourbon still is underappreciated. He stocked one bourbon Old Grand Dad 114 was the proof back then, and even though he was a brandy man, he tipped the Grandad on special occasions, once inspiring him to tackle my grandmother’s china cabinet, after attending an Eagles game where the blocking and tackling in his estimation was woeful compared to his semi-pro days in the 20’s. So Grandad is on hand, not my fav, but a sentimental tip of the hat on his birthday each year. I would encourage everyone to do their homework, you can have a bar stock across the board of the best at surprising low prices. Happy new year, and cheers to all, I have my 101, a bottle of OF and Dickel 12 coming from Santa, life is good! thanks again for your great website!

    • Hey Don,

      Thank you for the compliment and thank you VERY much for sharing your stories. I had a huge grin reading about your grandpa and his OGD, he sounds like he was quite the character and it sounds to me like you have a well stocked every day drinker bar. WT 100 and GD 12 are some of my favorites. Cheers man!

  27. Josh – I love Buffalo Trace and it’s my go-to whiskey. I am sort of a whiskey rookie but what I like about BT is that it’s somewhat smooth, but more so I like the transitions it goes though as I sip it, then swallow it, then react to it afterwards. Very distinct transitions for me.

    Could you recommend some other maybe similar bourbons that I might try with similar characteristics to BT?

    • If you haven’t tried some of their other expressions like Eagle Rare check it out. Also check out anything from the Barton distillery like the 1792 line, you might like some of their stuff. Though where you’re likely to find the most relatable experience is with Heaven Hill. Try the Evan Williams Vintage series Evan Williams Bonded and Henry McKenna Bonded. Hope those work. Cheers!

  28. BT is definitely my go to bourbon, for the price it can’t be beat. This stuff is what Andy Jackson would drink, when I drink it I hear the rumble of the Derby and smell of powder from the Civil War. No joking, this is the stuff you want to drink, and drink it neat! It smells like sweet caramel and toffee on the nose – I could smell this all day! The taste is awesome, sweetness and a bit of spice and oh so nice. The finish lasts a bit and is complex, I love it. After trying many bourbons, this is my everyday favorite.

  29. Hey guys, don’t mean to sound sexist, but anyway, have you tried Jim Beam Black? I know I am a BT guy but this I was given an airline bottle to try and really liked it. Be interested to hear if you have tried this. In Houston, it sells for less than $20. Still partial to Eagle Rare, BT, and Larceny.
    Let me know how everyone is doing and tasting.

  30. Since I moved to the US from Europe, I’m investigating American whiskey. I liked the Dickel 12, but at my local grocery store I noticed today that there was only 1 Buffalo Trace bottle available. Looks like all the locals are buying this one instead of all others. Now I understand why. This is a really good quality/price whiskey ! I’m not an expert like you to find all the aromas, but I just know that this one is the top of all Tennessee and Kentucky whiskey I ever tried ! So happy today! (remember my comment about Bastille whiskey, I was so angry that day :)) Very nice blog, by the way !

  31. Hey Josh,

    Buffalo Trace — the “best for you buck” bottle of straight bourbon whiskey money can buy. I’m new to this the past couple years and for the longest time I saw it and went “that’s the cheapest looking bottle on the shelf!” And then one day I said what the hell — I damn near cried after sipping that first fine drink! For over a year I just walked past it on the shelves all because of the bottle! So, so juvenile of me…

    As trite as it may be, the moral of my story: Never judge a book by it’s cover — or the whisk(e)y by the bottle. Slainte!

  32. I’m a Maker’s gal. Just tried Buffalo Trace. I found my new favorite. You’re spot on with your review!

  33. Buffalo Trace has been my go to bourbon for the past 12 years. There’s almost always a bottle or two behind my bar. On a recent supply run for my annual Derby party the lady at the checkout kinda stared at the seven bottles of BT in my cart and asked me if I was preparing for the apocalypse. I politely told her the whiskey was just for a party, if I were really preparing for the end of the world as we know it I would have had to rent a truck to haul my whiskey. 🙂

  34. Hey Josh!! This has been pretty hard to find in Central NC the last number of years but got the last bottle today at my store! I really do like this still. Both for sippin and for mixin….just hard to beat. Out of curiosity would you give it the same score today? I think it is basically the same as when you reviewed it but maybe less age in barrel? Anyway, I love it and so glad I got a bottle again. This and WT 101 are such “workhorses” for those of us who just love bourbon.

    • Hey James, I’m still loving it. Probably kick it down to an 87 on my current scale and when I get around to re-reviewing it I’ll update the score. Still, an 87 at that price is a great deal. Cheers!

  35. I don’t know about all parts of the country but here in the Midwest Buffalo Trace has been disappearing off store shelves and not being replaced,I wonder if this will be the next “allocated” bourbon in their portfolio.

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