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Buffalo Trace vs Old Forester 86: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Buffalo Trace vs Old Forester 86 in this head to head comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Buffalo Trace

NoseCaramel, cinnamon, baking spice, cereal
PalateCaramel, vanilla, oak, espresso coffee, chocolate
FinishVanilla, baking spice, oak
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, rocks
Similar toUncle Nearest, Knob Creek, Blade & Bow

Buffalo Trace is one of the best-selling liquors for two good reasons: it delivers a smooth yet tasty taste and is attractively priced delivering good value for the money.

On the nose the Buffalo Trace is very subtle with notes of caramel, vanilla and a touch of baking spice. 

Taste hits the spice a little harder, displays oak and fruit and the underlying sweetness is still there, a little caramel and vanilla goes a long way. Mouthfeel is soft and approachable, light on the heat.

The finish has a decent length, rich in vanilla and baking spice, although flavors don’t sit on the tongue for long but leave a refreshing sensation in the mouth.

The Buffalo Trace is a well-rounded bourbon, making a nice easy sipper with a medium to full body, soft with a chewy feel, fruity and oaky with a medium spicy finish.

Neither intense nor mind-blowing, but it gets the job done delivering a pleasant and satisfying bourbon.

Overall, Buffalo Trace is a good mid-shelf bourbon, a sipper that does not need neither water nor ice. Makes a solid option for an “everyday whiskey” but not the best mixer as it lacks the punch to deliver tasty cocktails.

Use the Sazerac Rye as a whiskey for cocktails which is pretty much the same bourbon but with added rye spice.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Buffalo Trace:

  • Buffalo Trace is made from corn, rye and malted barley in undisclosed amounts.
  • Buffalo Traces uses a unique aging process of 8 years in which the barrels are stored in the middle floors of the warehouse where temperature fluctuations are the greatest; these variations get reflected in the bourbon creating deeper flavors.
  • 40 barrels at a time are chosen to create one single, small batch of Buffalo Trace.

Old Forester 86

NoseBrown sugar, caramel, ethanol
PalateVanilla, banana, oak, spice
FinishCaramel, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toOld Forester 100, Old Forester 1897

The nose kicks-off with a sharp ethanol hit that quickly dissipates into a sweet scent of brown sugar and caramel.

On the palate, the Old Forester 86 has a decent body showing a medium texture. Flavor is smooth and a bit musty, with hints of vanilla, banana, cinnamon and a dash of charred oak spice providing a bitter note.

The finish is short-lived, with caramel and oak to it with very little to no warmth.

It drinks nicely neat or rocks and the little higher than average proof (86) makes it a good option for an affordable Old Fashioned.

Old Forester 86 has nothing remarkable or off-putting, getting the job done providing good value for the money.

The Old Forester 86 is a solid entry-level bourbon and a better option than most bourbons at this price range such as the Jack Daniel’s or Jim Beam.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Old Forester 86:

  • Does not have an age statement, but is around 4 years.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • This was the first bottled bourbon sold in sealed glass bottles instead of from barrels, to ensure consistent quality.
  • Old Forester has been on the market continuously since 1870, which is longer than any other bourbon.
  • Old Forester was launched in 1870 by George Garvin Brown and named for Dr. William Forrester, who prescribed bourbon to his patients.

Buffalo Trace vs Old Forester 86: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Buffalo Trace$35
Old Forester 86$24

Buffalo Trace vs Old Forester 86: Which is better?

Buffalo Trace is a more complex and tasty bourbon

WhiskeyBuffalo TraceOld Forester 86
  • The Buffalo Trace and the Old Forester 86 play in different leagues.
  • Old Forester 86 is better than most low-shelf bourbons such as the Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam while the Buffalo Trace has a place among the mid-shelf bourbons.
  • Buffalo Trace is a tasty, complex, satisfying and yet smooth bourbon and one of the best at that price level.

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