25th November, 2019 by Amy Hopkins
Kentucky distillery Buffalo Trace has concluded its second Warehouse X experiment, which analysed how temperature affects the ageing process of whiskey and collected 9.1 million data points.
Buffalo Trace is hoping its experiments will allow it to discover the “Holy Grail of Bourbon”
Warehouse X was built in 2013 to study the many variables that affect the Bourbon ageing process. Over the course of 20 years, Buffalo Trace will monitor a number of environmental elements, including natural light, temperature, humidity and air flow, collecting around 70 million data points in total.
The distillery concluded its first Warehouse X experiment in 2016, which “disproved” the theory that light affects the colour and alcoholic strength of whiskey.
During the second experiment, which concluded last month, Warehouse X’s four chambers were used to determine how barrel activity correlates with temperature changes. The temperature of two chambers was kept constant, while the temperature of the other two chambers was varied, leaving the breezeway unchanged.
Throughout the experiment, Buffalo Trace tracked temperature fluctuations from 5°F (-15°C) to 109°F (43°C) and monitored barrel pressures ranging from -2.7 PSI (pound-force per square inch) to 3.2 PSI.
After three years, the barrels were rolled into a traditional warehouse to continue ageing. Buffalo Trace said the experiment has allowed it to “confirm how temperature affects pressure, colour and flavour over a period of three years”, but has not revealed any further details.
The distillery will now embark on another two-year experiment relating to temperature and will look at “how temperature swings affect whiskey activity in the barrel”. It will begin at the end of this month.