Fall is a magical time of year, seasons are changing the holidays are nearing and the release of loads of great brownwater occurs. I think I probably am more excited for fall than my wife who with baited breath awaits the emergence of the pumpkin spice latte', referred to by her and most every other friends wife I know as the "PSL!" In some ways I guess I can understand the fuss, as I relate fall to the drop of my own acronym laden suite of great bottles...specifically, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (affectionately referred to as "BTAC") produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery! With it, by foot, by car, by Uber, and by plane folks will flood liquor stores both near and far scouring shelves in the hope of finding some coveted juice...and amazingly, it will actually happen, at retail (insert shocked face here) for some Bourboneurs.
Click above to read the Bourboneur Guide to Rare Bourbon Hunting
Before we get into BTAC, it's probably worth the question, have you started preparing for "the hunt?" If not, it's not too late to refer to the Bourboneur Guide to Rare Bourbon Hunting which has just about everything you'll want to consider as you contemplate catching a unicorn in wild. We detail how to scout for opportunities, build rapport with your local liquor stores without being thought of as some pesky annoying pain in the you know what, developing your credibility through the almighty dollar, finding opportunities to increase your odds at capturing a unicorn (no net or specialized equipment required), using social media to your advantage and most importantly, dealing with defeat.
With that out of the way, lets dig in to BTAC; below we detail everything you need to know BTAC, and then some.
Batting at the top of the order is a five-bottle collection of some of Buffalo Trace's most coveted juice which is released annually, each fall, to great fanfare with this years drop expected in October. Yes, that's next month. Please, try to contain yourself.
Proof 115 to 140
Although it's not the most sought after of the five bottle lineup, I wanted to mention it first as there's a bit more excitement to this years release than usual. Last year for the first time, Buffalo Trace announced that it would not release any George T. Stagg given that the fifteen year old barrels that were put up in 2006 to be used for the release weren't up to snuff. Specifically, the juice was too light and underdeveloped to represent the brand. The distillery noted that early sampling of the 2007 barrels were "on track" for the 2022 release. There already isn't enough good brownwater to go around, so lets hope that they get these out to market! If you get the opportunity to try this bottle, expect a punch of lush flavor with a lot of dark fruits, a bit of earthiness and just the right amount of spicy heat.
Proof 115 to 130
Perhaps the second most coveted bottle in the BTAC lineup the William Larue Weller showed up originally on the market in 2005, and is without a doubt, the pinnacle of what a barrel proof wheated bourbon that is long in the tooth should taste like. No one can argue against calling William Larue Weller the best barrel proof wheated bourbon on the market, period. The barrels that this bottling are pulled from given the age have lost around sixty five percent of the original whiskey to the angels. Yearly bottlings differ in flavor profile, with this past years having a bit more "oak funk" than years prior, which to me was probably a nice nuance as I like to have the age come through on the taste. If you're lucky enough to score a pour, expect a long spicy finish that you may want to tame with a drop or two of distilled water.
Proof 120 to 135
Imagine if you will inquiring at your local liquor store about BTAC and being escorted to the back where you get a Handy...a dream come true...and hopefully we're talking about bottles here. I must admit that at a whopping six years in age, the Handy rye sticks out like a bit of a sore thumb in the overall BTAC lineup. It's a good pour, way hotter than I was expecting, but besides the sexy packaging that looks very officially fancy, it's rather lackluster in its composition. Still good, just not "jazz hands" good. The pour reminds me of trips to the lumberyard with my dad as a kid...so much wood, and on the palate, the abv really kicks it up a notch with a zing of that rye spice that delivers a solid pop of intensity.
The Sazerac Brand and the 18 Year Old Sazerac Rye have such an interesting and unique history. I have a whole post on it and how the 2015 botting of the 18 Year Old Sazerac Rye was the end of "The Steel Tank Batch" and an era that many have no knowledge of. If you missed that post you won't regret taking four minutes and venturing down the rabbit hole of knowledge. Today the brand is still trying to find it's legs and recapture or rather hone in on what it used to be. The 2021 release continues to be "surprisingly woody" by most accounts and some aficionado's have questioned whether it may be time to walk forward the age a bit to something closer to a fifteen year age statement to minimize the impact of the oak and time.
Proof 90 to 105
Likely most will agree that the Eagle Rare 17 bottling is the most coveted bottle in the entire BTAC lineup. I won't lie that when I first had it, I had expected a random person to pop out and throw up a handful of confetti in the air. It didn't leave that amazing of an impression, and I had probably hyped this up a bit in my mind given the rarity of being able to add this bottle to my shelf. That said, it's a great pour that carries forward a lot of the same things folks love so much with the brands ten year bottling; it's a very even-keeled bourbon that has managed to land in the sweet spot of being a very bourbony-bourbon with the suite of typical bourbon tastes and flavors that are incredibly well balanced.
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Bourboneur Glencairn Glass