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A “trace” is essentially another name for a well-traveled trail. Whoop-dee-doo. I knew this already. And even as an amateur deductor, I successfully leapt to the assumption that the Buffalo Trace was probably a trail used by buffalo somewhere in Kentucky. Then I read the label. Sure enough.
But I was curious. I say this because I cut a trail behind my house and now the deer use it. So, could there be more to the Buffalo Trace story?
First, you must know that I’m not a bourbon guy. But I’m trying. I’ve just never really enjoyed drinking bourbons, and so even now I found myself struggling to reach out, snatch the glencairn up into my hand, and take a sip, let alone meditate in a way that I’d be able locate the story that would eventually bring you, the reader, and me, the reviewer, together here at Angelsportion. And so I did a little more reading.
Did you know that well before the A.D 1775 date stamped onto the label, the Buffalo Trace was essentially a man made road used to connect several major settlements in Kentucky? Those early American towns were Limestone (now called Maysville), Lexington, and Bourbontown (present day Paris). Since Limestone was a popular shipping site on the Ohio River, this particular trace was an economic thoroughfare for multiple trades, both settler and Native American, and so it was considered rather important.
Did you know that the Buffalo Trace was also used for convenience as a warpath by the Native Americans set upon attacking those Blue Grass settlements? In fact, Daniel Boone, the well-known explorer of early American lore, he and his companions were ambushed several times on the Buffalo Trace. Even further, while Boone limberly escaped a good number of these attempts, his brother Edward and his son Israel were killed in separate attacks.
Remember that fact. People died on the Buffalo Trace.
Now pick up your glass of the whiskey and join with me. Hover above the gate of the glass, let the air free from your lungs, and then breathe in. Do you know what I smell? Hope. I smell possibility. It’s sweet. But maybe a little too sweet. It almost smelled like a watered down glass of Southern Comfort, didn’t it? To test, put a glass of the Buffalo Trace right beside a glass of Southern Comfort with a little bit of water in it. You’ll see what I mean. Or even better, try this. Close your eyes and draw in the Buffalo Trace’s track. It’s a cheap, homemade scented candle, isn’t it? Nothing refined about it, just a chewy caramel soaking in cheap cola.
Now take a sip. Did you taste that? Yeah, that’s what hope tastes like as it dies. The sweet became a very raw and very sour fructose and malt muddle. There’s no balance. There’s no carefully discerned contour. It’s a feral trail, a rocky trace.
The finish follows along on the trail with a medium and masticating aftertaste that now includes what could be stale lemon citrus or a very dry orange sprinkled with cloves. Neither of these fusty ingredients go all that well with cola and caramel.
Believe it or not, I really wanted to like this one, mainly because the first time I tried it with a good friend who is now no longer with us, I could have sworn that it wasn’t all that bad, although I’d just sipped a short glass of high octane angelica wine prior to the experience. Tonight, however, with a clean palate and nothing lesser to provide an offset, it was rather reminiscent of the original Buffalo Trace – untamed, treacherous, and deadly – and I do say deadly in the sense that it nearly slew my desire to delve further into the bourbon world.
But not to worry. I do intend to continue investigating outside of the Scotch walls. But as it was with this and the Knob Creek, I’m desperately hoping that there is something, anything, in the bourbon ranks that can match the correctness of Scotch whisky and shatter, if even only a little, the merited snobbery.