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.
Despite a pandemic throwing everything into chaos, Buffalo Trace Distillery has made sure to keep its schedule of releasing its Antique Collection this fall. 2020 marks the 20th anniversary since the first launch of this premium collection. It includes the George T. Stagg, the William Larue Weller, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, the Sazerac 18 Year Old, and the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old.
Bourbons with double digit age statements are highly sought after, but when they happen to be a part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) they are practically impossible to find. In the past, the BTAC bottles have been sold for over $700 on the secondary market. That is a staunch comparison to the $99 retail price.
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 using Peychaud’s with Hersaint, New Orleans official cocktail, the Sazerac was born. Overall, the Antique Sazerac 18 Year Old is a fine rye whiskey, but in the 2020 collection, I ranked it fourth.
Some other details on this whiskey to know, according to official information from Buffalo Trace, include:
The previous edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named “Best Rye Whiskey Aged 11 Years and Over” by “Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.” This 2020 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of oak, caramel and dark chocolate, with a finish of coffee, black pepper and cherries. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 2002 and it rested on the third floor of Warehouse K. It is bottled at 90 proof.
Tasting Notes: Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old (2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)
Vital Stats: 45% ABV, 90 proof. Distilled in winter 2008. Aged 18 years and 4 months in #4 charred new American oak from warehouses K. The sour mash bill consists of Minnesota Rye, Kentucky Corn, and North Dakota malted barley. 750ml $99.
Appearance: Tawny/burnt ochre
Nose: I first notice the aroma of sourdough starter. Fig and bold cherry round out the middle, whereas grass follows up at the end. Rich, buttery caramel provides the sweetness on the nose.
Palate: Oak is first noticeable with a fresh slice of baked sourdough bread. The mouthfeel comes off clean and crisp with a light touch of oil. Cherry comes forward with vanilla. In the middle, caramel or demerara simple syrup add to the sweetness of the vanilla. For depth, cinnamon and allspice mingle. Black peppercorn switches things up at the finish.
Just because I ranked this fourth, doesn’t mean I think it is the worst. Again, each of the BTAC stands out, but I think I am over smell and taste of sourdough since being in quarantine. If you don’t get a chance to try the Antique Sazerac 18 Year Old, I find it comparable to the Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Rye.
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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...