Yes, the 2016 version of the rare American whiskey race is afoot. Just yesterday, we brought you word of the Four Roses 2016 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon. Before that, it was Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and Parker’s Heritage from Heaven Hill, Next up – and one we know a lot of folks have eagerly been awaiting official information on – is the Buffalo Trace 2016 Antique Collection.
As usual, you have the mix of George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old and Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old. This year, some of these definitely fall into that 130+proof category of American whiskeys we recently wrote about. Here are the available details of each, courtesy of Buffalo Trace:
- George T. Stagg: The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg weighs in at a hefty 144.1 proof this year. Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon won many top awards, including twice named the number one spirit in the world by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2001. This batch contained 142 barrels, but not as many bottles as expected, due to some very greedy angels! Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses M, N, H, L and K. Finding a bottle this fall will be difficult due to the low yield. This whiskey tastes of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
- William Larue Weller: The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including the “Bourbon of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 edition. The 2016 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the third and sixth floors of Warehouses D, K, and L. This bourbon registers in at 135.4 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases. The bold flavors include plum, figs and vanilla.
- Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye: Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2015 edition was named “Best American Rye Whiskey” at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards. This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2010; aged on the fourth, fifth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.2 proof. The flavor has been described as toffee and cinnamon.
- Eagle Rare 17 Year Old: The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2015 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2016 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses H and K. This 90 proof bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of leather, vanilla, tobacco and toffee.
- Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old: Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the Best Rye Whiskey 11 Years and Older by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 edition. This 2016 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of smoke, clove and all-spice with a dry finish. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in April of 1998, making them the first “new” batch in years not drawn from the stainless steel tank as the previous past few editions have been. From this year onward, this whiskey will be drawn directly from barrels put away for 18 years, versus using any tanked whiskey.
The price set by Buffalo Trace for these whiskeys is reasonable, as always, dropping in at $90 each. There is no doubt, however, that prices will quickly skyrocket as retailers and secondary market sales ramp up. Ahh, free market economies and rare whiskey. Good luck in the hunt!
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...