2015 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Announced

 Photo of the 2014 releases, by Suresh Doss

Photo of the 2014 releases, by Suresh Doss

As written in the pages of my book, when writing about Buffalo Trace Distillery:

It would be easy to point to the notoriously rare Pappy Van Winkle as the distillery’s crown jewel whisky, but Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) is better.

Those words were written back in 2013, when BTAC was (slightly) findable. These days, the BTAC is nearly impossible to purchase.

A few highlights from the press-release: George T. Stagg, the definer of high-proof oaky bourbons, had a low run this year due to higher-than-usual evaporation. This will also be the last year of the original Sazerac 18, which was stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent further aging several years ago. Sazerac 18, starting next year, will be new distillate matured for 18 years at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The suggested retail price is $80 for each, but it’s likely to sell for far more.

Head to Buffalo Trace’s website for more info. Below is the edited press-release from Buffalo Trace:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, the 2015 George T. Stagg weighs in at 138.2 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 2000. This batch contained 128 barrels, a similar size batch as in previous years. Unfortunately these barrels yielded very little whiskey. Some of the barrels were nearly empty, containing only 1 or 2 gallons. Storage location of these barrels varied across a number of warehouses and several floors, but 84% of the original whiskey was lost to evaporation (or some very greedy angels!). Finding a bottle this fall will be harder than ever. This whiskey tastes of expresso, molasses, chocolate, vanilla, and dates. 

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 Second Finest Whiskey in the World by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition. The 2015 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the second and sixth floors of Warehouses I, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 134.6 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases.  The bold flavors include toffee, nougat, and figs.   

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2014 edition was named “World’s Best American Whiskey” at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2009; aged on the fourth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.9 proof.  The flavor has been described as fig, clove, and allspice.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Gold Medal at the 2014 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2015 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses Q and I.  This bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of oak, tobacco, and dates. 

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the third finest whiskey in the world by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition, and American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate Magazine.  This 2015 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of molasses and allspice, with a long, dry finish.  Several years ago, barrels of fully matured Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old were put into a stainless steel tank at Buffalo Trace Distillery to prevent further aging. Since then, whiskey has been drawn each year for bottling.  This is the last edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old from that tank. Next year’s batch will be comprised of whiskey that is currently aging in barrels filled in April 1998 and subsequent releases will contain barrels filled in 1999 and so on.