Whiskey Review Round Up: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2018

, , | December 21, 2018

Every year, bourbon and rye fans yearn for the allocated Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, also referred to as BTAC. Since they only come out once a year and are allocated, they can be hard to find.

There was one very notable change this year, Eagle Rare increased from 90 proof to 101 proof. See more details about the bottles in the news release, as we will focus on the tasting notes here. Plus, if you’re interested in the history of BTAC, Bourbonr has a log of past releases (they should be adding more soon).

This was my first opportunity to spend time with the entire release, not just a dram here and there. Sadly, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac leaked during transit. Somehow the packaging materials and spillage made it smell like an aging warehouse, which was lovely.

Suggested retail price for every whiskey in the collection is $99 each bottle, but likely you’ll find it pricing much higher in liquor stores and on secondary markets.

The 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (image via Sazerac)

Tasting Notes: George T. Stagg

Vital Stats:  Straight Bourbon, 15 years and 4 months old, 62.45% ABV, 284 barrels, distilled spring 2003, uncut, unfiltered

Appearance: This is the darkest of the collection with a rich amber hue. Since it is unfiltered, little floaters were noticeable.

Nose: Leather and sugary maple aromas envelop your senses.

Palate: It tastes slightly nutty an chocolaty with warm oak in the background.  It is full bodied with a wonderful mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts:  The oak did not dominate the flavor profile. The rich flavors of this bourbon place it at the top of the group for me.  I forgot how much I like Stagg. Given the opportunity, I’d definitely buy a bottle.

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Score: 4.5/5 [BUY A BOTTLE]

Tasting Notes: William Larue Weller

Vital Stats: Straight Bourbon, 12 years and 6 months old, 62.85% ABV, a release of 149 barrels, distilled winter 2006, uncut, unfiltered

Appearance: Golden amber color

Nose: The initial aroma is very sweet. Dried cherry and dates on the nose, with warming honey notes.

Palate: Dark dried fruits are heavy the palate with rich fig and tobacco flavors. Giving way to fresh vanilla and thick caramel finish.

Final Thoughts: This is sweeter than I would expect for an older wheat bourbon. It’s pleasant and warm.  Weller is one of the few wheat bourbons I like, this one falls into that realm. I think the higher proof is smooth and enhances the flavors. This would be my second favorite of the release.

Score: 4/5 [BUY A BOTTLE]

Tasting Notes: Eagle Rare 17 Year

Vital Stats:  Straight Bourbon, 17 years old, 50.5% ABV, 45 barrels, distilled spring 2000, chill filtered. This year’s release is a tribute to when Eagle Rare was launched in 1974 at 101 proof.

Appearance: Light clear amber color.

Nose: There is a pleasant caramel green apple aroma with cinnamon notes. It’s slightly minty an oaky.

Palate: The whiskey tastes of baked apple with holiday spices. Brown sugar and toasted oak linger on the palate. The finish is long starting with peach notes and dark cocoa lingering.

Final Thoughts: This is a solid bourbon, however, the finish is a bit too dry and thin for my palate. The stated age is 17 years old but was actually aged over 18 years, perhaps a bit too long.  The water reduces the heavy oak flavors.

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 Score: 3.5/5 [BUY A BOTTLE]

Tasting Notes: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac

Vital Stats: Rye, 6 years old, 64.4% abv, 73 barrels, distilled spring 2012, Non filtered

Appearance: Golden amber color. Since it is not filtered, light floaters may be visible.

Nose: Astringent and herbal

Palate: Hint of anise, allspice, and toffee. There is a heavy pine and clove taste lingering on the palate.

Final Thoughts: Very evaporative on the tongue. Even though it also has the Sazerac name in the title, it is completely different than the Sazerac 18-year-old. I appreciate how different the flavors are than the others in the collection.

Score: 4/5 [BUY A BOTTLE]

Tasting Notes: Sazerac 18 Year

Vital Stats: Rye, 18 years old, 45% ABV, 24 barrels, distilled spring 1998, Chill filtered

Appearance: The Sazerac is a light amber, which is a lighter color than all of the others in the collection.

Nose: It has hints of citrus fruits, raw sugar, warm bread, vanilla, and dried figs.

Palate: Palate filled with black pepper, figs, toast, cinnamon with a hint of butterscotch.

Final Thoughts: It has a bit too much oak on the palate for me, perhaps it’s the lower proof which makes it so. It has a classic rye peppery spice yet it’s quite mellow and polite.

Score: 3.5/5 [BUY A BOTTLE]

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Jeneen Bell

It all began with a simple quest for whiskey information to host a better whiskey tasting. As I learned more about the history and complexity of the spirit, I went down a rabbit hole and never looked back. Many call me a whsik(e)y geek. I'm a Certified Bourbon Steward, WSET...