Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Buffalo Trace. 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 link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Buffalo Trace fans, I have some sad news if you have not heard already. Although the 2021 Antique Collection (BTAC) has been released, you will not be able to find the George T. Stagg to complete the series this year. Buffalo Trace had this to say, “this year, the lineup is missing George T. Stagg, the uncut, unfiltered 15-year-old whiskey. George T. Stagg will not be part of the release because the 15-year-old barrels do not meet the Distillery’s taste standards for the Stagg brand.”
At least we are assured the William Larue Weller, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, the Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old, and the Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye meet Buffalo Trace’s high-quality standards. The Sazerac 18-Year-Old is one of two ryes in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. If you were not lucky enough to get a bottle at its MSRP of $99, hopefully, you will be able to snag a taste of it.
Like the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye in the BTAC, the Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old has its traditions in New Orleans. In 1850, the Sazerac Coffee House gained fame by creating “America’s First Cocktail.” By replacing the French brandy with rye whiskey and pairing it with Peychaud’s bitters and Herbsaint, New Orleans’ official cocktail, the Sazerac, was born.
Vital Stats: 45% ABV, 90 proof. Distilled in spring 2003. Aged 18 years and 6 months in #4 charred new American oak from warehouses K and P. The sour mash bill consists of Minnesota rye, Kentucky corn, and North Dakota malted barley. 750ml $99.
Appearance: Light amber
Nose: The nose is abundant with rich aromas. The dram starts with marzipan or almond extract. Lemon zest comes in waves through the nose, but there are subtle layers ranging from umami to fruity. The earthen notes of grass and mushroom hit next. After this, the nose picks up on a vanillin sweetness like crème brûlée. Pear and tobacco leaf round out the nose on the backend.
Palate: Cinnamon and nutmeg mingle with crisp pear. Orange segment comes through in the middle along with the pear from the nose. The finish is dry and peppery with cedarwood.
I found the 2021 BTAC Sazerac Rye to be my third favorite whiskey in this year’s collection. The nose is wonderful, but some elements are missing on the palate. I can say for a fact that it pairs nicely with a charcuterie board.
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Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...