Bison Ridge Special Reserve 8 year old Canadian Whisky plus a similar looking bourbon
Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Produced by Crosby Lake Spirits out of Princeton, Minnesota. This fine imported Canadian Whisky has been aged for 8 years…
Wait a minute! Bison? Minnesota? 8 Years? This isn’t Buffalo Trace! This label says 8 years on it and we all know Sazerac is working very hard to remove age statements from their products!
But I kid. (Mostly.) I make the joke because earlier this year, Buffalo Trace sued the importers of Bison Ridge for creating a product that looked and sounded too much like their flagship bourbon. There are similarities to the name and the label, but I’m not a lawyer so I won’t really get any further into it than that.
One of the things that I actually like best about living in Minnesota is that we have a lot of Canadian Whisky that crosses the border and doesn’t go much further. So when I hear a recommendation on canadianwhisky.org for a new one, I tend to wander into my local liquor emporium to see if it’s made it here.
I originally noticed this brand as a mini in the “99 cent” bin on the store counter. I picked it up and thought it was ok. So I looked it up to see what Davin had to say about it. He didn’t mention the one I purchased, but did have a review of an 8 year version. Since both were imported by a company in Minnesota, I made a note to pick it up the next time I stopped in.
Bison Ridge Special Reserve, 8 year old
Purchase Info: $15.99 for a 750mL at Haskell’s Burnsville
Details: 8 years old, 40% ABV
Nose: Grassy, soapy, delicate hints of cinnamon red hot candies
Mouth: Fairly thick and chewy. Very sweet. Demerara sugar, hints of anise, cinnamon candy and Dawn dish soap
Finish: gentle heat, slight white wine aftertaste to go along with the ever-present soap
Thoughts: I love good Canadian Whisky. This, however, is not that. It’s not terrible, but I’m not partial to the dish soap flavor I got throughout. For me, this is just meh.
Partway through my tasting I found the actual bottle of Buffalo Trace up in the overflow closet and thought it might be fun to taste these together. See how disappointed someone would be if they bought Bison Ridge thinking it was Buffalo Trace as their lawsuit contends is possible.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Purchase Info: $15.99 for a 750 mL at Haskell’s Burnsville (on sale)
Details: 45% ABV
Nose: Citrus peel transitioning to an earthy garden soil. Damp earth and green plants. Under that is a sweetness tinged with faint baking spices.
Mouth: Maple candy and cinnamon red hots pair nicely with an acidic liveliness.
Finish: Nice and warm. Lingering caramel and baking spices that fade to reveal a stoney mineral flavor underneath.
Thoughts: Even at full price I like this one. I may not agree with the decisions of Sazerac’s marketing department, but I have to say they make a damn fine bourbon.
If someone told me to buy Buffalo Trace and told me there was a drawing of a Buffalo on it and I bought Bison Ridge by mistake, I would wonder what the fuss was all about. Bison Ridge isn’t terrible, but Buffalo Trace is a really good whiskey for the price. Whether it was an intentional ploy to trick people or not is for the lawyers and/or the courts to decide, but I can see why Buffalo Trace sued. I gotta give Bison Ridge a little credit though. They at least got the name of the animal correct.