Buffalo Trace Big Black Voodoo Daddy

I’m sure it’s blindingly obvious that I love me some barrel aged beers. And while I’ve dabbled with beers aged in exotic spirits barrels like Tequila or Rum (not to mention sours, can’t forget those), Bourbon barrels are clearly where it’s at. But you can’t just dump your beer into a barrel and expect it to come out perfect. There are some clear misfires out there (that aren’t that bad, per say, but pale in comparison to the best stuff…) I think that FiftyFifty’s Eclipse beers have shown us that the type of Bourbon in question is also a factor.

Indeed, there’s a million factors to consider here. What condition is the barrel in? How long did the barrel have Bourbon in it? How long will the beer be in the barrel? What’s that base beer like? What’s the environment (i.e. temperature, humidity) for the barrel? And so on. Clearly those barrel masters have their work cut out for them.

Whoever is running Voodoo’s barrel room has certainly made a pretty good name for themselves. Black Magick aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels is an amazing beer (and I’m not alone in that assessment). The recently released (and sadly not secured by any Kaedrin operatives) K13 Barleywine is tearing up the trading forums too. So maybe my expectations were a little too high for this beer, which is Big Black Voodoo Daddy aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. It’s not bad at all, but it sadly doesn’t quite live up to the example of the Black Magick beers. Or, you know, maybe this barrel aging stuff isn’t as exact a science as we’d like to think…

Voodoo Brewing Buffalo Trace Big Black Voodoo Daddy

Voodoo Buffalo Trace Big Black Voodoo Daddy – Pours a deep, dark, viscous looking black color with a minimal cap of light brown head that quickly resolves down to a ring around the glass. Smells of burnt caramel, vanilla, oak, and a heaping helping of bourbon. Taste has more roast than the nose would have you believe, less caramel too, along the lines of the regular BBVD, though the bourbon, oak, and vanilla are clearly there. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected, though still full bodied, not quite as rich and chewy as I was expecting. None of this is bad, I was just expecting something slightly different. Indeed, the more I drink, the more this grows on me, and in the end, I’m really enjoying it. Overall, it’s a very good beer, better than the base (even though, d’oh, I graded the base beer the same – stupid ratings inflation). Perhaps not quite the amazing brew that Black Magick was, but still very good! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. blue waxed bomber) Drank out of a snifter on 11/16/13. Bottle #: 000096. Bottled Nov 27, 2012.

I’ve been doing this blog long enough that my grades have started to suffer from some form of inflation. I guess they can’t all be A level beers, eh (but looking at the grade archives, maybe the can all be B+ level? – ed Quiet you!) I do have the other two BBVD variants, one aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels (which legend fortells will part the skies and bring forth an angelic choir whilst you drink) and one aged in Lairds Apple Brandy barrels (which certainly worked well for Grand Met), so perhaps this one is just the odd man out.

2 thoughts on “Buffalo Trace Big Black Voodoo Daddy”

  1. I actually think the questions you asked in the first paragraph matter a ton more than the type of bourbon that was in the barrel. The quality of the barrel, the length of time, and care of the barrel during aging probably affect things the most.

    Also, I’d agree with this assessment as I didn’t think this was one super great. It wasn’t bad, just nothing to write home about. I have one of the variants in my beer fridge right now, I think Buffalo Trace Black Magick, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  2. Well, Buffalo Trace has a corn/rye mash bill, while PVW has a corn/wheat mash bill. So while I don’t know the percentages, I’d expect Buffalo Trace to be comparable to something like Evan Williams or Elijah Craig. But I’d also expect PVW to make a difference, just from the grain bill.

    Would that difference matter as much as the barrel quality, environmental, and time factors? Well, interestingly enough, one of the reasons PVW is so prized and impossible to get is that the Van Winkle’s are very particular about selecting their casks. That’s why Weller 12 can be found on shelves (it’s the same juice as PVW, made by the same distillery and aged in the same warehouse, etc…) and PVW is sought after. Apparently barrel selection matters.

    And I could see that translating to the beer too. If the PVW barrels are “better”, then perhaps the beer aged in those barrels will also be “better”.

    Buffalo Trace is a standard offering, but my assumption is that stuff like George T. Stagg and Eagle Rare go through a similar process of barrel selection (they use the same mash bill and are the same juice as BT, and the Stagg at least is nearly as hard to score as PVW these days).

    None of which accounts for the extra maturation time, of course, which also matters (I’d be curious to know if secondary use PVW 15 barrel would be better than a PVW 23 barrel – wouldn’t the latter give less barrel character?)

    This is, of course, all blatant speculation on my part. I’ve been toying around more with Bourbon lately, so I’m trying to pick up the nuances in stuff.

    I also expect the base beer to make a huge difference. Black Magick is a much fuller bodied beer than BBVD, and that probably matters more than any barrel related stuff! I expect the BT Black Magic will be significantly better than the BBVD… Will look forward to seeing your writeup of that one!


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