We are now entering the heart of the 2020 season for the fall collector’s cycle of all things American whiskey. One of the major anticipated announcements around this time is the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, highlighting an annual range of higher end bottlings from this venerable distillery that, while officially pricing around $99 per 750 ml bottle, will once again very likely command much higher prices, both at retail and also in the secondary markets.
The Antique Collection, for those not familiar with it (and why is that?), was introduced two decades ago and, according to those behind it, “has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs.” This year you once again will find five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs, with all of them being made available starting in late September or early October.
The details of each are as follows from Buffalo Trace:
George T. Stagg
The proverbial powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg, comes in at 130.4 proof this year. Last year’s release was awarded 97 points in the 2020 Ultimate Spirits Collection, and fans will find the familiar Stagg taste profile they know and love with cinnamon, caramel and cherries on the nose, and a creamy vanilla with lightly smoked oak on the palate. The finish is black coffee, dark cherries and herbs.
This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2005. Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses L, K and Q. The evaporation loss for this year’s batch was 59%, a bit higher than the last few year’s releases.
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 2019 release receiving a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and also named 2nd finest whiskey in the world in the esteemed “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.” The 2020 release was distilled in the winter of 2008 and aged in Warehouses I and C. This bourbon registers at 134.5 proof. Flavors of a soft caramel chew, spearmint and cinnamon can be found on the palate in this year’s offering.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye
Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Last year’s release earned The Chairman’s Trophy, scoring 99 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and was also named 3rdfinest whiskey in the world in “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.” This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2014; aged in warehouses K, M, and N, and weighs in at 129.0 proof. The flavor profile includes cinnamon, anise and honey.
Eagle Rare 17 Year Old
This 101 proof whiskey was distilled in Spring of 2002 and aged on the first floor of Warehouse P. The 2019 release of this bourbon was named “Best of Category” at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. This bourbon has a nose of ripe cherries, vanilla cream and oak, followed by a taste of caramel and coffee and a long finish of oak, pepper and fresh herbs.
Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old
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.
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...