Perennial favorite George T. Stagg is back as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) returns for 2022. Whiskey fans, assemble!
The Antique Collection returns. The annual release of whiskies from the Buffalo Trace distillery is like Taylor Swift releasing a record or Britain getting a new Prime Minister: one of those occurrences that are both regular but very significant and destined to make headlines.
There are the classic five names again this year, George T. Stagg Bourbon, William Larue Weller Bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Eagle Rare, and Sazerac Rye Whiskey. That means that George T. Stagg is back after it was omitted last year because Buffalo Trace felt its uncut, unfiltered 15-year-old whiskey did not meet the distillery’s standards for the Stagg brand. This year, the team reports that the 2007 Stagg barrels were full of “maturity, balance, and flavour” so it’s back, and with a bang at a hefty proof at 138.7 (69.4% ABV), its highest bottling strength since 2016.
We’ll have the bottles in eventually and will obviously let you know as soon as they land. As usual, we’ll aim to ensure that our stock is sold as fairly as possible to all you lovely people, so you can expect lotteries, and/or auctions. We’ll post on this blog as soon we’ve got ’em so keep your eyes peeled, but for now, we thought we’d let you know what to expect from each whisky.
The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022
George T. Stagg Bourbon
Starting with the returning hero, George T. Stagg Bourbon was actually created back in 2002 at the request of a fan for a well-aged and barrel-strength whiskey. It’s now become one of the most beloved and in-demand American whiskies on the market. This year’s offering was distilled in the spring of 2007, making it 15 years and 5 months old at bottling. As mentioned, after the barrels were aged in warehouse K they were popped into bottles at 69.4% for the brand’s highest ABV strength in six years. That means that we can expect lots of lovely bold notes like “toasted pecan and chocolate sauce on the nose, a rich blend of baking spice, vanilla and cherry pie on the palate, and a robust finish of black coffee, molasses, and oak”. Delightful.
William Larue Weller Bourbon
Now onto The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon, the difficult to say while sucking on a Polo Mint, William Larue Weller. The previous release of this wheated bourbon was honored with a Double Gold medal at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so the gauntlet has been thrown down. And then taken for a night on Valencia Street. The 2022 release that aims to meet such lofty heights was distilled in the spring of 2010 and its barrels were aged in warehouses C, K, and N. This bourbon registers at 124.7 proof, or 63.8% ABV, and is said to possess “a nose of toasted coconut, butterscotch, and caramel, followed by a touch of mint, dark cherry and molasses on the palate and a full-bodied finish with hints of leather, nutmeg, toffee, and vanilla”. Wonderful.
Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon
Our first age statement of the bunch comes from Eagle Rare, a whiskey that becomes as rare as an eagle with a mohawk once it’s released as, like the rest of these rascals, it sells out so quickly. This 101-proof (50.5% ABV) whiskey was distilled in the spring of 2005 and barrels were aged in warehouses H, K, and L (warehouse K is getting a real runout this year). Buffalo Trace dutifully informs us that this bourbon has “a nose with a hint of tobacco, chocolate covered cherries and a touch of oak, followed by caramel, vanilla bean, dark chocolate and oak on the palate and a full-bodied finish with baking spice, vanilla, and butterscotch”. Excellent.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey
Into our double bill of rye whiskies now, first from Thomas H. Handy, the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Last year’s release earned 97 points and was named in the top 100 spirits by judges at the 2022 Ultimate Spirits Challenge. More medals than Secretariat these BTACs. This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2016 and aged in warehouses I, L, and M before being bottled at a hearty 130.9 proof (65.5% ABV) making it the highest proof for this whiskey since 2012. The flavor profile includes “a nose with floral notes, anise, marmalade and meringue, followed by a palate with baking spice, a burst of orange peel and subtle dark chocolate, and a long finish of cinnamon, praline, and candied orange”. Splendid.
Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Whiskey
Last, but not least, is Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Whiskey. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 2003 and 2004 and rested in warehouses K, M, and P before it was bottled at 45% ABV. Buffalo Trace tells us that previous releases of Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old were named in the top three finest whiskeys in the world by a book that shouldn’t be featuring in press releases still, and also says that this 2022 straight rye whiskey release has “a nose of orange peel, lemon zest and molasses, a palate with a bold blend of black pepper, coriander seeds, and maple syrup, and a well-rounded finish with mint, tobacco leaf, and oak”. Stupendous.