Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Its Much Anticipated 2020 Antique Collection Whiskeys

From their press release:

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 9, 2020) Just in time for the fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing its 2020 Antique Collection of whiskeys (BTAC). The highly regarded collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs.  Here’s what fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The proverbial powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg, comes in at 130.4 proof this year.  Last year’s release was awarded 97 points in the 2020 Ultimate Spirits Collection, and fans will find the familiar Stagg taste profile they know and love with cinnamon, caramel and cherries on the nose, and a creamy vanilla with lightly smoked oak on the palate.  The finish is black coffee, dark cherries and herbs.  

This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2005.  Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses L, K and Q. The evaporation loss for this year’s batch was 59%, a bit higher than the last few year’s releases. 

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 2019 release receiving a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and also named 2nd finest whiskey in the world in the esteemed “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.”  The 2020 release was distilled in the winter of 2008 and aged in Warehouses I and C.  This bourbon registers at 134.5 proof.  Flavors of a soft caramel chew, spearmint and cinnamon can be found on the palate in this year’s offering.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Last year’s release earned The Chairman’s Trophy, scoring 99 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and was also named 3rd finest whiskey in the world in “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.”  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2014; aged in warehouses K, M, and N, and weighs in at 129.0 proof.  The flavor profile includes cinnamon, anise and honey.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

This 101 proof whiskey was distilled in Spring of 2002 and aged on the first floor of Warehouse P.  The 2019 release of this bourbon was named “Best of Category” at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.  This bourbon has a nose of ripe cherries, vanilla cream and oak, followed by a taste of caramel and coffee and a long finish of oak, pepper and fresh herbs.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

The previous edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named “Best Rye Whiskey Aged 11 Years and Over” by “Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.”  This 2020 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of oak, caramel and dark chocolate, with a finish of coffee, black pepper and cherries. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 2002 and it rested on the third floor of Warehouse K.  It is bottled at 90 proof. 

The Antique Collection was introduced two decades ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and “Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.”

The 2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $99 each.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

About Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1775 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won 35 distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Its Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain Bourbon was named World Whiskey of the Year by “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible 2018” and its William Larue Weller and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac were named 2nd and 3rd finest whiskeys in the world, respectively, in the “Jim Murray Whiskey Bible 2020.”  Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 1,000 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracedistillery.com.  To download images from Buffalo Trace Distillery visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/media

Weller Full Proof Greens Farms Spirit Shop Pick

I love the decision that Greens Farms Spirit Shop made in doing the gold wax top. They did an online poll. Some may say cheesy, but I’m a sucker for wax. Maybe I’ll the only one who actually opened it because of that?  Who knows! Looks great. Let’s taste it!

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Ginger snaps, Big Red gum, cherry Dum Dum lollipop, freshly baked cinnamon raisin bread and crushed graham cracker. Medium heat on the nose.

Enjoyable mouthfeel, a bit more heat than expected but not bad. The oils and tannins coat the front of the palate focusing on spice and bread notes. The finish moves up the gums and stays enjoyable for 90 seconds.

Who doesn’t like Weller Full Proof? People go nuts for this thing. At retail, it’s a no brainer. This single barrel pick is better than most of the WFP I’ve had before. 95/100.

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Mt. Kisco Wines & Spirits… overpriced, uninformed, and updated secondary pricing…

Mt Kisco Wines & Spirits…. anything allocated is above top end of secondary on everything. Waste of time.  Hey Buffalo Trace!  Maybe lob in a call to these guys??
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ETL 100… no price but $600… manager says “it’s not my bottle, can’t negotiate”…. secondary recently has been $500… how exactly can’t you sell someone else’s bottle in the three tier system??  Hmmmm….

M20… Been sitting there for six months, $2400… last secondary prices I saw were $2200… lots of dust on it…

$600 for this year’s GTS?  Come on man… $900 for Lot B???  $400 and $525 respectively are recent secondary levels…

Pappy 15yr $1600… secondary around 1k on this one…

FRSBLE… last three years collecting dust for $600… secondary in the 300-400 range…

Elijah Craig’s are a complete joke… take a look at the photo… but nothing more insane than Redemption Rye 18 for $800… my guess is these guys don’t sell any of these and that’s why they are just collecting dust.
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Manager took twenty minutes to basically tell me he wasn’t negotiable. Tell me that upfront so I am not lingering like a schmuck for almost half an hour.  My “favorite” part was them telling me that they are “only” selling Blanton’s for $100 instead of charging $180, like other stores do.  The three stores in the area all had Blanton’s on the shelf for between $70 and $90, didn’t see a $180.

The rest of the store seemed to be focused on cheap rose… waste of time. I won’t be going back here ever again.   At least they were practicing social distancing??

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Just released from Buffalo Trace…. Weller Single Barrel Bourbon

Welcome to the next bottle of Bourbon you will never find at retail…. I bet it will be good, just not worth the hype… but we will see!  Full press release below….

BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY

RELEASING WELLER SINGLE BARREL BOURBON

New Addition to Wheated Bourbon Line to be Annual Release

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (May 19, 2020) A Weller Single Barrel offering is the latest addition in the storied Weller bourbon line from Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Bottled at 97 proof, the Weller Single Barrel will be an annual release, starting this Summer.

“Many of our Weller fans have been asking for a single barrel bourbon for quite a while, and we’ve planned for this addition for a number of years, so we’re excited to be able to make this happen, said Joshua Steely, marketing manager, bourbon. “Our rye bourbon mash bill has a variety of options, like Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Stagg Jr. George T. Stagg and E.H. Taylor, Jr. bourbons, so it’s nice to be able to offer some variety in our wheated bourbon mash bill as well.”

            Tasting notes for the new expression describe the new Weller Single Barrel as having a nose of cherry and mint, fading to vanilla.  Caramel and baking spices with hints of cocoa explode on the palate, with a finish of cinnamon, coffee, and a hint of pepper.

            Weller Single Barrel joins the Weller line up of Weller Special Reserve, Weller Antique 107, Weller 12 years old, Weller Full Proof, Weller Craft Your Perfect Bourbon, and William Larue Weller, which is part of the Antique Collection, released each fall.

The Weller Single Barrel will be available starting in June this year, and although the offering will be limited, it will be released once per year.  The packaging will contain a cork stopper, like the Weller Full Proof Bourbon released last year.  Suggested retail pricing is $49.99.

About Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1773 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won 35 distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Its Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain Bourbon was named World Whiskey of the Year by “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible 2018” and its William Larue Weller and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac were named 2nd and 3rd finest whiskeys in the world, respectively, in the “Jim Murray Whiskey Bible 2020.”  Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 1,000 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracedistillery.com.  To download images from Buffalo Trace Distillery visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/media

For the Love of the Hunt… and for all the people out there that have pissed off their spouses for liquor store detours.

My wife thinks I’m nuts. Why do I find incredible enjoyment walking into random liquor stores when I’m on vacation or places I’ve never been before. Is it a disorder? I just have this incredible invisible force compelling me into these stores. I can’t help it. Most of the time I walk in, look around, and walk out… but then there are times when I’m there for an hour.

Hunting in 2019 (and going forward) makes me appreciate commercial fisherman on the East Coast even more… it’s over hunted, you have to go twice as far to get half the load, and every once in a while you get scolded so badly by your spouse for ignoring your children (or dragging them in with you) that you almost want to quit. But then this happens:

Here’s the story. I’m in upstate New York visiting a cidery and I forgot I had to mail a letter. I pull over to the post office and across the street appears to be a closed down liquor store. I walk over and they have a doorbell, it says “push hard.” I do. Twice. A minute later a little old lady walks out the next door and comes over, introduces herself, unlocks the door and lets me in. It’s mostly very low end stuff, but above the shelf, about 7 feet above the floor, I spot a dusty Rebel Yell. I reach for it and she says it’s not for sale because no one would want anything up there because it’s all been there since they bought the store in the mid 1970’s. Jackpot. I say I’d really like to buy it and she says, ok, but it’s probably gone bad (Turns out the Rebel Yell was a 1983, I found that out from some trolls on Facebook, but that’s a story for another time). I climb on a box and behind the Rebel Yell is an Old Fitzgerald 1976 decanter. Two Stizel-Weller bottles?? There were a few other lesser decanters and I paid cash and went on my way. I gave them more than they were asking for them because I felt bad they didn’t know what they had. But these things were sitting in plain sight for 45 years. Reminds me of Godfather III: “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

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I’ve never seen Stitzel-Weller bottles on a dusty random shelf before… only in glass cases for thousands of dollars. I don’t ever expect to again… but I know they must still exist.

I did another hunt a month ago and the take is below… I didn’t buy anything at MSRP, but most was below secondary. I’m going to sell some, trade some, and drink most. I didn’t get everything I wanted this Bourbon season, but hopefully with the multiples I got, I’ll be able to trade my way into my deepest desires. That’s the only way to do it these days and as far as I am concerned there is no stigma to it. Anyone who thinks there is, probably isn’t going for the stuff I am going for anyway.

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The closest I got to MSRP this year was $200 for a Stagg from my local guy I do a lot of business with. Patronizing your local guy, making friends and staying on them is still your best way to get the best price on the allocated stuff. But for those who need more, the hunt is still alive and well and there is just enough out there to stock the bunker, and keep the dream alive for next year!

Full 2019 Pappy Lineup Reviews…

I recently shared a tasting with a friend and client…. here are my notes. He’s not the same experience of taster that I am but on average he agreed with my conclusions. If anything he had a lower score for the rye and higher score for the older Pappy’s. The reviews are in order of my tasting… enjoy!

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The 13yr rye has an epic nose, better than both BTAC. The spice of Handy with the complexity of Saz…. and I haven’t even tasted it yet. It a touch hot but not bad on the palate, but the mouthfeel is a little lacking. The flavors are good but it just falls off a little too soon. The nose was epic but the follow through just missed it for me. Still wonderful, but not worth the price. 94/100 (When I went back to this after the Pappy 15, the nose was still great but the mouthfeel was even thinner than before)

Pappy 15, always a crowd favorite…. creme bruele, toasted corn bread and cinnamon toast crunch on the nose with hints of dusty wooden age surrounding it, so you know it’s older. Really nice mouthfeel, good tannins and oil coating the entire mouth with butterscotch, toffee and graham cracker flavors oozing into spaces between my teeth. This knocks it out of the park. The finish goes on for 3 minutes or more. I wish this was affordable. 98/100.  I’m a buyer of this one… send me a DM please…

Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr…. another favorite, usually the best value of the bunch…. to be fair I had this after the 15yr which probably wasn’t fair…. nose is great, much fresher than the 15yr but not young in the bad way… getting tons of orange peel, chocolate covered orange peel, dried orange peel with cloves stuck in them… oh and a little bit of butterscotch and buttered, toasted brioche. Mouthfeel is awesome, might even edge out the 15yr… flavors lovely too. So… how does it stack up? The nose is very good but not insane. The mouthfeel with the heat component might be the most perfect balance I’ve ever experienced. The finish is long and good but the flavors from the Pappy 15 are more complex and enjoyable. This is my favorite Rip 10yr in a while though… 97/100.  I’ll be trying to hunt for this one…

Lot B… 12yr… generally people’s least favorite one… the nose always is older then the statement and this one is one different… forest mushroomy floor, No 2 pencil shavings, ginger snaps, dried cherries and Rollos. Mouthfeel is not bad but not great…. a little thin and falls off quickly. I guess they get points for consistency? Still enjoyable but this one you should trade for a 10yr if you can sucker someone into that trade… 87/100

Pappy 20….. interestingly light and floral on the nose, lightly toasted wheat toast with Nutella lightly spread across. Mouthfeel is a little lacking and the flavors go a touch bitter on the finish. It’s still enjoyable and complex but doesn’t compare to the 10, 13 or 15… 90/100

Pappy 23….. oldest for last but is it best? You can tell from the nose it is the oldest. Definitely wood forward but lots of tertiary notes of chocolate, leather, candy and almonds. Almost no heat at all and the mouthfeel is pretty good. Not a lot of oil but a good amount of enjoyable tannins. Finish is less sweet but not bitter, I’d consider it savory. It’s good. No, it’s very good. It’s the oldest, but it’s not the best. Trade this one for 2x 15yrs. 94/100.

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The BTAC Reviews…. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019

Clearly these are all amazing whiskies. I get a lot of negative feedback on how I can possibly grade some of these so low. I take into account prices when I do, so if it’s a secondary $500 bottle but tastes no where near that, the score will suffer. Hate my system or love it, thanks for reading. All clicks are good clicks, right???

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Sazerac 18 / Saz18
Good but subtle nose. very subtle rock candy, subtle hints of mushroom umami, watermellon Jello , #2 pencil shavings, orange clove. Reminds of Saz18 past but less vibrant. Moderate mouthfeel, starts slow but builds up over time. Clove, Skittles and graham crackers on the tongue. The finish is pretty good and doesn’t drop off… it still gives you that 18yr dry dust just in the back of the tongue to let you know it’s the oldest of the bunch. This is one of the better Saz18s from a taste and finish perspective, but the nose is a little lacking. The tanked stuff is still the best. Easy drinker, but still really complex. 95/100. Not going to chase given secondary prices.

William Larue Weller / WLW 128.0
Rich deep nose with moderate heat, spicy ginger snaps, cinnamon raisin toast, allspice, teddy grahams and a touch of Panettone in the background dipped in tawny port. Big mouthfeel, tannins cover all over. The initial taste is a little bitter though which is disappointing. The finish is long but never goes sweet as I hoped it to be. It’s a big wheater, but just comes up short for the Weller name. Nose is better than the taste. I will say that this bottle had been open for three days and I have the feeling of you left it open for a month it might grade much better. 93/100. Not going to chase, last two years were much better.

George T Stagg / GTS 116.9
Crazy sweet and smooth nose. Rare for a Stagg to not give you at least a soft punch in the nostrils. Deep dark butterscotch, Cherry Cola, Juicy Fruit, stewed blackberry currant and a hint of cedar closet. Quick spicy hit up front that melts into an easy velvet caramel blanket over the tongue. Very long finish. The lower proof is noticeable on the diminished heat, especially if you side by side the 144.1. The finish is very long and it’s enjoyable. If people negatively judge and price this based on lower proof I’m happy to buy them… 96.5/100. This one has been the cheapest on secondary the last two years, I’ll try to grab a couple of these.

Thomas H Handy / THH 125.7
Spicy and moderate heat on the nose. Blondies, red hots, cloves, with a hint of vermouth. Biggest and hottest of the initial tastes, a real mouth roof grabber. Lots of the cinnamon red hot flavor with more spice to follow, although it is a little one dimensional for a Handy. Finish is pretty good though. 93/100. Will not chase, the previous releases are much better.

So in terms of my rankings, and I apologize I wasn’t able to try the ER17 this year… but I’m going Stagg, Saz18, WLW, THH. I think I’ll be an outlier but that’s what my palate is telling me. I will also like to say even though my scores are not high, these are still some of the best whiskies on the planet and you should try them if you can.

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Elmer T Lee 100… Just a smidgen better than the regular ETL

I tried… at a bar… didn’t open my bottle… how could I when it’s going for over $600 on secondary?

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How was it?  It was wonderful!  Of course it was, it’s Elmer T Lee, just with a few extra proofs.  I tried the ETLC a few years ago at a bar, and it also was lovely, just like the regular ETL.

I feel like it’s silly for me to write up a full review on this one, because it’s pretty much the same as my ETL review from a few years ago.  Click for it.

Let’s just say it still has the butterscotch hard candies, dried orange peels, vanilla and baking spices, honeysuckle and spice loaf cake that I have come to love from ETL, but maybe you could argue the mouthfeel was slightly better, the finish slightly longer… although it could have been all in my head.

I scored ETL a 94 a few years ago… at MSRP I’d say this is a 94.5/100, but, given where the secondary market is, you just can’t justify the value for the taste.  Looks great on your bar though as a collectible… just like the Amaranth does too.

EHT Amaranth Grain of the Gods: Secondary Price Crazy, Value? Read the Review…

There are so few actual reviews on this from real people… some BS reviews from people who got free samples and others that tasted them at events… here is a real review.

Bottle looks great… obviously…  Color looks amber beauty.

Nose…. sweet, not hot at all… Necco wafers coming in strong, with subtle ginger snaps, elderflower, licorice laced with a heavy cream undertone.

Mouthfeel is enjoyable, but not complex.  Getting those same flavors on the tongue, but the finish is quicker than I expected and leaves me wanting more.

It’s a fun whiskey, it’s enjoyable, but this wasn’t a game changer.  Amaranth is an enjoyable flavoring grain, but this is not one to open.  Try this at a bar, please do not open your bottle.  It is currently trading around $700 on secondary and for a collectible, who knows if that’s the right price… as a drinker, it clearly is not.  85/100

Another sketchy liquor store… and $2500 Pappy 20 behind the counter!

If you are ever in midtown Manhattan at 55th & 8th ave… be sure NOT to stop at the local liquor store…. Westerly Liquor

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$211 for CEHT Small Batch?  $200 for Stagg Jr? Seriously?