Whiskey lovers circle the date for the fall release of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, an assortment of uncut and unfiltered bottles that are quickly snatched up for well over the $125 retail price. And those whiskey fans tend to notice when things are different (or even missing), even as the collection has changed a bit over the past 23 years.
While the 2023 BTAC collection includes all the usual staples — George T. Stagg Bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Whiskey and William Larue Weller Bourbon — it also features the oldest Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon in the collection’s history.
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As the distillery notes, the spirits in the Antique Collection are “aged and proofed at the pinnacle of their flavor profiles to embody the best possible expression of each whiskey.” Each expression is stored in a unique crystal-clear glass bottle with a back label that provides a product story and description.
Here’s what you need to know about each new release. We’ve included the tasting notes from the distillery, but we’ll be trying these later this month and reporting back.
At 19 years and three months old, this is the oldest release of the spirit since its inclusion in the Antique Collection. This whiskey was distilled in the spring of 2004, and barrels were aged in Warehouses C, I, K, M and Q. Eagle Rare 17 is bottled at 101 proof in tribute to the original Eagle Rare brand launched in 1975. The expression features tasting notes of dark chocolate and cherry pie filling on the nose with a well-balanced flavor of caramel-drizzled chocolate sponge cake, finishing with dry and spicy notes of an earthy cigar box.
At 135 proof, the 2023 offering was distilled in the spring of 2008 and its barrels were aged in Warehouses C, I, K, L and M. The bourbon has scents of cinnamon and cherry cola and a well-balanced mix of leather, chocolate and vanilla on the palate, complete with a robust, earthy finish. Last season’s George T. Stagg placed first for the Best American Whisky in the 2023 International Whisky Competition.
The 2023 Sazerac 18-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey release features a scent of dried orange, rye grain, clove and aniseed, a palate of black pepper, vanilla and waves of oak, and a floral honey and tobacco leaf finish. This collection of rye whiskey barrels was filled between the fall of 2004 and the spring of 2005 and aged in Warehouses K, L and M. The previous release of Sazerac Rye 18 earned the Gold Medal in the 2023 American Whiskey Masters.
The 2023 Thomas H. Handy expression is comprised of barrels aged for over six years. Initially launched in response to a consumer request for more well-aged and barrel-strength whiskey, this uncut, unfiltered straight rye whiskey clocks in at 124.9 proof. The flavor profile includes an aroma of orange zest, lemon oil, caramel and hints of pine. On the palate, freshly baked rye bread spread with orange marmalade and honey appears first, followed by a lingering finish of light oak and black licorice. Judges at The Spirits Business 2023 American Whiskey Masters awarded last season’s Handy a Master Medal.
William Larue Weller is the Antique Collection’s uncut and unfiltered wheated recipe bourbon. This year’s offering was distilled in the spring of 2011, and its barrels were aged in Warehouses C, L, M,and N. The 2023 bourbon registers at 133.6 proof, surpassing last year’s proof offering of 124.7. Candied notes of dark brown sugar and vanilla bean are found on the nose, followed by a warm and full palate with stewed cherry and brown sugar crumble and a robust, dense finish enveloped with baking spice and a hint of maple syrup. The 2022 Antique Collection Weller secured a Master Medal during the 2023 American Whiskey Masters.
The limited-edition 2023 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottles are sold separately and will be available at retail in early October at a suggested retail price of $124.99.
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