Whisky Advocate

New Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys: my thoughts

August 15th, 2009

Yesterday I was at the Buffalo Trace distillery for Elmer T. Lee’s 90th Birthday Party. But, in the afternoon, before the party, I had the chance to taste the new Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.

While tasting the whiskeys, I posted my thoughts up on Twitter. For those of you not following me yet, you should (@JohnHansell), as I often post quick thoughts or breaking news on Twitter, in addition to posting lengthier, more formal information later on WDJK, and I don’t plan on making a practice of posting my tweets here. (You can, however, find my tweets on the right margin of WDJK.)

If you missed it, here’s a copy of my tweets on the new BT Antique Collection. (Please note that these are my general thoughts, and my formal reviews will follow later.)

Just tasted the entire new line of Buffalo trace Antique Collection whiskeys, plus 2 new experimental whiskeys. Informal reviews to follow.

William Larue Weller. A CS wheated bourbon whiskey. My favorite of the new lot. They beefed it up with some older whiskeys. Stunning!

George T. Stagg. A CS ryed bourbon whiskey. My #2 of the lot! They beefed this baby up too! Incredible balance! Another “must buy”!

Thomas H. Handy Rye. Sweet, lush, vibrant, and spicy. Perhaps my third favorite. The Rye equivalent to Cask Strength Laphroaig 10 yr old.

Sazerac Rye 18 yr. rye whiskey. The 2001-2005 vintages were the best. Aged in Stainless since 2006. Still nice, but losing some pizazz.

Eagle Rare 17 yr. Sort of got lost in the mix with these other bullies. Need a separate time to review it fairly. Last two years were great.

11 Responses to “New Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys: my thoughts”

  1. Mr Manhattan says:

    I heard an interesting story yesterday in my local liquor shop after I inquired about the availability of the upcoming Antique Collection releases. I was told that apparently BT distributors had been selling the “buy a barrel of baby Sazerac” to local liquor shops and bars as a way of guaranteeing an allocation of the Antique Collection bottlings: “buy a barrel and we’ll take care of you.” The problem is that last year the resulting allocations turned out to be to rather miserly and these same liquor stores and bars were not happy and are thinking twice about purchasing another barrel this year. I’ve certainly noticed that many of bars I frequent which had purchased barrels of the baby Saz are now back to pouring the standard retail offering.

    Anything substantial to this story?

  2. John Hansell says:

    Mr. Manhattan, I really don’t know anything about that. I try to stay out of the politics. I think that the liquor stores should approach Buffalo Trace with their concerns.

  3. Jake says:

    Mr Manhattan – The short answer is yes – your story has validity. In my experience it is a matter of preferential treatment based upon amount of business done with BT/Sazerac Co. So, with the more barrels you buy, the more of the less sought after products you put on your shelf — you’ll see more of harder to get items. I work at a liquor store and we do several barrels a year with BT. When the Antique Collection and Pappys come around, they are always doled out with an eyedropper – no one ever gets as much as they want. There is a bit of an admitted preference to make sure the bars see the products over the liquor stores as one bottle will expose/make happy many more people at a bar. As the demand is ever growing, so is the pressure to ensure that each account gets taken care of. Hopefully supply will catch up with demand.

  4. Jon W says:

    The W.L. Weller was my favorite of last year’s bunch, so this is exciting news. I can’t wait!

  5. Mr Manhattan says:

    @Jake: thanks for the response.

    Meantime, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for some of the Handy and perhaps this year a bottle of the Weller.

  6. […] John Hansell has thoughts on Buffalo Trace’s new “Antiques” collection. […]

  7. JWC says:

    When will the Antique Collection be on store shelves? My store told me he thinks October – anyone else hear different? Also, when will the Pappy’s (20 and 15 yr olds) be released? I miss the days when they sat on store shelves for a while and you could buy as many bottles of it that they had. The store in my area that has them now has a one bottle per customer policy.

  8. Chris says:

    I think the “bar argument” is a false one. A lot of the premium bottles just sit there on the shelf, at $20 or so a pour. When I buy a bottle and share it among friends, a lot more people get to try it.

  9. Lew Bryson says:

    Very much in agreement on the Weller: standout whiskey, and not as custardy sweet as previous bottlings…which I liked then, and now find a bit lacking. Just had some Weller Antique last night, and the family resemblance is striking, and pleasant. I think I favored the Handy a bit over the Stagg, though, it was just so fresh and lively and vibrant. Tough call!

  10. John Hansell says:

    Yeah, Lew, I’ll have to “split hairs” later when I get a chance to review them formally. All were pretty tasty though, weren’t they?

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