Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy links in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection (BATC) each year releases with powerhouse proofs and a bevy of unique flavor profiles and, for 2022, welcomed back fan favorite George T. Stagg Bourbon, which was not included in last year’s collection due to an issue in quality assurance that the Distillery refused to compromise.
Utilizing three mash bills from Buffalo Trace – rye mash bill #1, wheat mash bill, and straight rye mash bill – the five members of the ensemble included in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022 are George T. Stagg Bourbon, Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon, William Larue Weller Bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, and Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Whiskey.
The two standouts of this collection for me were the George T. Stagg Bourbon and Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon. Granted, I am primarily a bourbon drinker and tend to highly enjoy all releases from both brands, but the output for the BATC is near perfection.
George T. Stagg Bourbon comes in at its highest proof since 2016, a whopping 138.7, and at bottling was aged 15 years and 5 months. It is clear the Distillery takes great pride in the product it delivers, and this whiskey was a pleasant treat, though my palate begged for a drop or two of water when tasting.
An honoree of the Chairman’s Trophy at the 2022 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon was a personal favorite in this tasting. The bourbon is aged in oak barrels and is well worth the wait, with a complex flavor profile that welcomes a conscious examination as opposed to mindless consumption.
This collection is highly sought after, and so even mentioning the price seems obsolete, but it does have an SRP of $99/bottle. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the 2022 BATC I salute you and enjoy!
Tasting Notes: George T. Stagg Bourbon 2022
Appearance: Copper color with medium viscosity.
Nose: I enjoyed many notes off this whiskey. Aloe, cardamom, brown sugar, along with elements that I find in some red wine, grapes ripened in the sun.
Palate: A splash of water was needed, but I assure you I tried it naked first. Elements of orange peel, clove, and mincemeat came through. There are astringent elements that also present in a manageable way.
Summary: As stated above, this was one of my top tastings, though I found little to complain about overall within the BATC. This is not for the faint of heart but is absolutely worth finding.
Tasting Notes: Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon 2022
Appearance: The sunset over the ocean, a sky on fire.
Nose: Easily discernible. Sweet coconut, suntan lotion, vanilla, and marshmallow.
Palate: The wood presents mid-palate; a classic bourbon flavor profile with some tropical influences. Some clove, tangy but sweet, and very very subtle hints of cranberry.
Summary: I can’t help but love this expression. I’ve always appreciated what Eagle Rare produces and this whiskey is no different. I believe this will serve well in a cocktail and neat.
Tasting Notes: William Larue Weller Bourbon 2022
Appearance: Burnt ember, dark orange.
Nose: First off, fresh as a daisy. Oftentimes the whiskey feels musky or stale on the nose, but this bourbon comes off clean. There are notes of underripe fruit, vanilla, juniper berry, and patchouli.
Palate: Stevia sweet, bitter but not unpleasantly so. Cinnamon and almond extract, along with the pleasant numbness that one may get from smoking a clove.
Summary: This whiskey would be fantastic in a classic old fashioned, which I don’t often say about wheated whiskeys. It is strong but not overpowering, and my palate was not burnt out after this tasting.
Tasting Notes: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey 2022
Appearance: Slightly hazy dark orange.
Nose: Very subtle here, especially when dealing with the other whiskeys in the collection. I got notes of honeysuckle, citrus rind, caraway, and tobacco leaf.
Palate: The sugar notes overwhelm here, too cloying off the bat and I’m curling my nose. A lack of complexity has me wanting, and when I really concentrate, I struggle to pick out specific notes within the spirit.
Summary: I know that this Thomas H. Handy rye has won awards, and I’m very happy for them for that, but I did not enjoy my tasting as much as I would like, and in the future will likely find a way to elevate the whiskey with a well-iced cocktail.
Tasting Notes: Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye Whiskey 2022
Appearance: Rich and tawny in appearance.
Nose: Pleasant like a country grandmother’s kitchen. Notes of baking apples hit me in the face right away, along with fresh fig, spiced cider, honey, and vanilla.
Palate: An enjoyable rye, basic in profile, caramel apple sucker and fig cookie comes through to a smooth, long, oaky finish.
Summary: I was happy to end my tasting with this enjoyable rye. I got so much out of the nose and just a little less on the palate, but overall this is a successful expression that rye drinkers will likely appreciate.