Whisky Advocate

New Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is a winner!

October 15th, 2010

Several of you have already been emailing me for my thoughts on the new release. Yesterday I tasted the entire (soon to be released) Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2010 release side-by-side with the entire 2009 release to see how they changed.

I don’t have formal tasting notes written up yet, but I can tell you my general thoughts on the new release. In short: wonderful!

The only true setback last year was with Eagle Rare 17 yr. old (which I rated an 84), because it was showing too much wood (especially compared to the 2007-2008 releases). I’m happy to report that the 2010 is back on track and will score somewhere in the mid 90s.

My second lowest rated whiskey from 2009 was Sazerac 18 yr. old rye whiskey, which came in with a 91 rating. A very nice whiskey, but lost a lot of its zing from earlier years. The 2010 does show more character. Surprisingly, I’m tasting more wood notes in this year’s release. I say surprisingly, because it was my impression that this whiskey over the past few years has been aged in Stainless Steel tanks. This year’s release still doesn’t have the vibrancy of some earlier releases, but it’s a very nice whiskey, which I will rate somewhere in the low to mid 90s.

The William Larue Weller, put simply, is wonderful, just like last year (which I rated a 96). And very similar in profile. (Perhaps just a bit less spicy?) Once again, I will score this somewhere in the mid 90s.

The same goes for George T. Stagg. I loved last year’s release, giving it a 95. This year’s release is very similar–perhaps just a bit less complex, but I am splitting hairs here. I’ll be rating this somewhere in the 93-95 range.

Finally, the Thomas H. Handy rye whiskey, which I gave a 92 to last year, is also very similar this year–perhaps even a little better overall in complexity. I’ll be scoring this at least a 92 and most likely a couple of points higher than that when my formal reviews are done.

So, the bottom line here: we’re looking at five great whiskeys–all classics, or pretty close to classic.

22 Responses to “New Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is a winner!”

  1. Texas says:

    Thanks for getting this preview up so quickly! Sounds like you can’t go wrong with any of them!

    Can’t wait for this (well will have to wait to taste it because it will a Christmas present). I have a request into the store manager to let me know when they arrive. I had a bottle of last year’s Weller and tried the Stagg. They were just astounding. Every bit as complex and wonderful as a great single malt Scotch.

    I am budgeting one bottle, so it’s going to be a tough choice.

  2. JWC says:

    Woo-hoo!!! Thanks John. I believe you are the first one to have reviewed this year’s BTAC. Great to hear that this year’s BTAC is just as good if not better than last year. Particularly happy to hear that the ER is back on track.

  3. Vince says:

    Excellent News John. Thanks for getting this out so quickly, I always get the Stagg and Weller, I will probably get one more, maybe the Eagle Rare!

  4. Jon W says:

    Sweet…now I gotta start sniffing around for some of these. Last year they seemed to pass over Philadelphia completely and I needed to go through some outside channels to procure my bottles. I am with Texas. Although I’ve never been huge fan of the Stagg (like it, but too mood dependent for me) I think the W.L.Weller and T.H.Handy are about as good as it gets as far as whisky goes, at least the past two years worth of releases. I’m happy to hear they’re keeping the quality standards high.

    On that note, I hope they keep their pricing standards reasonable too. IMO, following from above, these are probably the best deals going these days. I have not seen official info, and I’m not trying to spread rumors, but I’ve heard that Diageo has pumped up some of the prices of their annual releases (someone please chime in if I’m wrong, as I don’t want to spread misinformation).

    • John Parker says:

      I can always find these if you are in the Annapolis, DC area, take a drive to Edgewater liquors. I have my name on the list as soon as they arrive, can’t wait for the Weller to taste next to Parker’s new release, my bottle is half way gone already.

  5. Eric G. says:

    Great write-up. You’ve inspired me to see how the 07 Stagg is tasting.

  6. Archaeology Carl says:

    Excellent! Great to hear it. I’ve always enjoyed these, even if they don’t always receive the highest ratings each year. I’ve brought my collection to a number of professional get-togethers and freely shared. Even if the Eagle Rare had has a lower rating, it’s still a favorite in blind tastings. And the Sazerac 18 (rye) and the Weller (wheated) make great contrasts. For those folks who are just getting into exploring the bourbon (and rye) world, I think any of these would be a great start. While the prices may be a bit high for some ($70 per bottle here in Kentucky), they are quiet reasonable when compared to the 20 and 23 yo Pappy, 21 yo Rittenhouse, and a few past expressions of the Heritage Collection. I’ve been told the bottles may be on the shelves here as early as next weekend. Can’t wait…I’ve been saving up for this moment since last years release.

    • You’re right Carl, prices are very fair compared to what else is out there, and inside word has it that prices will indeed go up, just a few dollars but still right around $70. We can’t wait until this Friday Oct 22 (we THINK that is the arrival date) – hope to have a big allocation this year so anybody looking for it please contact us to get your name on our list. The Antiques are definitely worth a drive to Frankfort (KY)- we still can’t legally ship anything.

  7. Mr Manhattan says:

    Yes..but “they” aren’t after anything less than 100 from you. You are being stalked! 🙂

  8. Gary says:

    I have enjoyed these releases over the years and look forward to the new ones. Can’t wait until they are in the store.

  9. JD says:

    Thanks very much for the preview, John. I always look forward to these releases. And it’s good to know BT has another group of winners this year.

  10. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the sneak peek John. Very helpful… as always.

  11. Douglas Fischer says:

    I have tried in past years to find the 18-year Sazerac without success. I finally had the opportunity to try it when my wife and I were in Louisville for the KY Bourbon Festival. Wow. And I thought the 6-year was nice. I am so going to seek it out for the 2010 release.

    I haven’t tried the WLW or the GTS, but I tend to agree with your ratings, John. You had reviewed the Wild Turkey American Spirit at a 94 and – having tried it at the Bourbon Festival All-Star Sampler – I have to say it is one of my top 3 bourbons. With your ratings for the WLW and the GTS, I think I’m going to have to hunt those down as well.

    I’m getting thirsty just writing this.


  12. KD says:

    If you’re thinking about picking any of these up, I’d recommend getting to your liquor store of choice and letting them know of your interest ASAP. By complete chance, I was in Frankfort, KY on Thursday (the day after the collection dropped locally) and the pickings were already very slim. I think I may have got the last bottle of Stagg in town (manager had to get it out of the back, said it had been put aside for someone who hadn’t shown up to collect it). Handy was available at most well-stocked stores, but the William Larue Weller was only found at one place, and I did not see a single bottle of the Eagle Rare 17 or Sazerac 18 in my tour (which included several Louisville and Lexington shops). According to various store clerks, they did not even get the boxes unloaded onto shelves before they were sold out.

  13. Bob Siddoway says:

    I have my name on a bottle of the new Stagg that is coming to my local store. Thank goodness! They said they’re only getting 3 bottles, though, and fortunately I was second to put my name on one. I only have enough left for one drink from last year’s Stagg!

  14. bastian says:


    How do you taste these very high-proof whiskies? Do you try them neat at all?


  15. John Parker says:

    Have the Weller in hand, will try Stag later, what a great Friday night to get my bottles.

  16. anorak77 says:

    I found a bottle of this while shopping for Thanksgiving day wine earlier this afternoon. It was priced at $53! Didn’t take much thought to grab it… my first George T. Stagg 🙂

  17. Eagle Rare is an amazing whiskey especially for the price. Only brain damaged frat boys or fasion victims would consider buying anything else in its $20-30 price range. It is worth about twice the money if you compare it in quality. A best buy for the low end (in price that is). Highly recommended for bars, but reference the drinks section on serving.

  18. Dirk Stickdorn says:


    I live in Virginia.

    Is it still possible to purchase the 2010 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection?

    What would be the best way to purchase the 2011 Collection?


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