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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Garrison Brothers Cowboy 2019… Better than BTAC?

2019 Garrison Brothers Cowboy release is a 5 year Texas Bourbon at 137.3 proof. Made from Texas Panhandle White Corn, and blended from three different barrel types, it is a limited release of only 6,440 bottles. The distillery is in Hye, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin, and is a great place to visit for tours.

The bottle is the classic Garrison Brothers bottle but this year it is dipped in Gold wax, a first for them. Dark cowboy color, just like you except from the Cowboy.

Roasted graham crackers, stewed blackberries, dark chocolate dusted over dark roasted espresso beans, butterscotch, Twix, burnt almonds and dark molasses. This is a huge nose with a good heat but certainly doesn’t betray the 137 proof level.

Big mouthfeel. Big flavor. Huge finish. I mean, it’s Texas Bourbon right? There is a big hug but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel has nice oils and tannins but not a crazy amount, it’s well balanced. The taste gives you the dried and stewed fruit with molasses and butterscotch in waves. The finish is about two minutes. This really hits the spot for me.

I’ve always been a big fan of everything Dan Garrison and the team does. I’ve visited the Distillery and attended a dinner in NYC with them as well. Full disclosure, I paid retail for this and for all the things I’ve done with them. I’ve asked for samples, but Dan has always politely refused. It’s ok, it’s worth the price every time! I opened the bottle at a family gathering and it was a polarizing drink. Split down the middle some people loved it and some people hated it. Too hot, too big, too smoky, etc. If you have followed some of the reviews of Garrison Brothers over the years, you will see that as well. It is polarizing to many reviewers. You’ll never see an average review for them. It’s always amazing or not their style. For me, it’s my style. It’s a home run. I like my Bourbon big, uncut, unfiltered and no apologies. Dan and his team, with their Texas swagger, produce a product that just understands my soul–thank you guys. I bought a case of it this year and if I see more I’ll buy it. This is a bottle, if you share a similar palate to me, you are going to want to drink and to have at least a backup in your bunker. They only made 6,440 of these bottles and I already own 0.1% of them… when they are gone, they are gone.

Garrison Brothers: Keep up the good work and I can’t wait until the next big release!

96.5/100 … If I had any critiques, I’d like a little more oily mouthfeel and slightly longer finish. But these are minor issues. I think this release is on par or better than every single BTAC released this year.

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.

Peerless Bourbon 4yr New Release

No intro here… just straight into the review… Color is shiny copper, really inviting.  Gorgeous bottle, beautiful, heavy cap.

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Quick pop of the gold cap, tons of aroma. Necco wafers, Eggo waffles, muted cinnamon sticks, buttered cinnamon raisin toast and toffee ice cream. Heat is muted.

Really nice mouthfeel, hotter than nose implies but not that hot…. spicy taste with allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon dominate the palate. Finish is good but not epic. Drops off after a minute but not in a bad way.

This is one of the best four year Bourbons I’ve ever had. I’m not surprised by that as their young ryes are also awesome. It does feel like to get something epic, it’s going to need another 2-3 years in barrel, but even at four years it’s extremely enjoyable.

Hard to grade as it needs a little more time to show it’s best, but even at four years it is still a solid 93/100. At six to eight years this might be a ninety-eight… and I bet there will be a single barrel that hits a 99.

I can’t wait until they have more age on their products. Check out my other reviews for their rRes which are also great. I also highly recommend you visit their distillery if you ever go to Louisville. It’s great. Full disclosure: I paid retail for this bottle in NYC, but they did send me a rye for free a year ago. I also got a free tasting when I visited early this year. None of which have any bearing on this review. If this sucked, I would have graded this poorly.

Peerless Rye 3yr Review

Old Taylor Castle Decanter Dusty

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Package arrived a couple days ago and when I opened it I could smell Bourbon… never a good sign. Either something broke or leaked. This one was a leaker. Old Taylor Distillery Company decanter with tax seal intact from around 1970 and age stated four years. I carefully opened it and the pour was only three and a half ounces—85% had evaporated.  On the positive side, the seller was fair and we agreed to a refund of around 75% to make up for it… most people in the Bourbon world are good and want to do the right thing, this was a good example of that.

Well… on to the review…

Really dark, not in a good way opaque and cloudy.

Musty basement, wet candy corn, stale graham crackers and chewed pencil. No heat.

Taste is actually better with decent spices and caramel coming through initially with a tickling mouthfeel. It does drop off a little bitter after a minute. There is a touch of enjoyable heat in the chest.

I was excited to buy this and try it but disappointed when it came mostly leaked, but it did force me to open it right away. Decanters are hit and miss in my experience. This one isn’t that bad, but nothing to seek out. 80/100.  (I’ll trade/sell you a sample if you want, I still have 2oz left sealed in glass)

HazMat Release from Barrell Craft Spirits!! 13yr Canadian Rye. Unicorn Alert!!

Unicorn alert… Single Barrel from Barrell Craft Spirits… 13yr Rye… Barrel L943, bottle #100… this clocks in at a HazMat 145.2 proof.  When I saw this, I grabbed a few… don’t think I’ll ever come across a Barrell HazMat again and I strongly regret not getting enough of the ECBP 140.2 proof back when I could…

Nose… the moment you pop the cork the nose jumps out at you–before even pouring the glass.  You can tell this is Canadian… maple syrup and vanilla rock candy permeates the room.  With the whiskey is the glass I’m also getting Necco wafers, heavy cream, butterscotch and gingerbread houses.  The crazy part is, I’m not getting much burn here on the nose, and this is HazMat!

The mouthfeel is great, completely oily covering the whole mouth.  There is decent heat and you can tell it’s not bottled in bond, but it’s enjoyable and balanced.  There is a strong tannin structure that goes right through the center and the finish builds up momentum with more and more flavor coming through.  This is a two to three minute finish.

In one way this is very different than any of the other Barrell releases I’ve had before… but it’s also consistent with quality and nuance and putting out really good whiskies, straight from the barrel.  If you can find this on the shelf, do not hesitate to grab it (or two or three!).  Finding HazMat whiskies that are good are extremely hard to find, and this is one of them.  Will be something that probably just goes up in value due to scarcity, but if you find them, grab two, so you can still open one.  I will probably open another one once this is gone… It’s worth it!  96/100.