Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022 Edition

Stagg is back, baby! With the latest release of one of the most highly coveted whiskey collections produced anywhere, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection returns to its full complement of five whiskeys, including the big daddy Bruiser, George T. Stagg. Details follow for each of the offerings, but if you’d like to read some past coverage for comparison’s sake, please check out prior bottlings from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 20172016, and so on… all the way back to 2008.

Sazerac Rye 18 Years Old 2022 – Distilled in 2003 and 2004, aged in warehouses K, M, and P. (Some of this is almost certainly stock used for the 2021 release, blended with newer rye.) A bit medicinal on the nose, with lots of wood evident, turning increasingly green with time in glass. Quite grassy, almost hoppy, at times, the palate is as pure an expression of rye as you’re likely to find. The sweetness of years past is all but gone here, replaced with a traipse through the pasture that ends on a slightly nutty, leathery note. Vague hints of sweet honey, perhaps, dust the whiskey as the finish fades, though those elements are fleeting as a severe lumberyard character takes over. 90 proof. B [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY] [BUY IT NOW FROM FROOTBAT]

Eagle Rare Bourbon 17 Years Old 2022 – Distilled in spring 2005, aged in warehouses H, K, and L. Again, this is new stock, not a re-issue of 2021. The nose first strikes as just a bit curious — distinctly minty, with lots of chocolate in the mix, followed by a strawberry note and a mild level of toasty, slightly dusty wood that isn’t remotely overpowering. A swirl of flavors greet the palate, ranging from chocolate to vanilla to strawberry — very much an ice cream sundae, with some brown banana hitting on the finish. Lumberyard notes are mild but are laced throughout the experience, particularly heavy on the nose as the glass leans toward empty. While I have no specific complaints about this release, I don’t feel like it’s as complex as I’ve encountered in the past, though I have zero qualms about recommending it — and sampling a second dram. 101 proof. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

George T. Stagg Bourbon 2022 – Distilled in spring 2007, and aged in Warehouse K. Stagg is back, and it’s at its highest abv in six years. You will certainly feel it right from the start. As expected, the whiskey isn’t shy in the slightest, leading heavily with its most wood-forward foot, strident in a lumberyard character that only becomes more urgent with time in glass, moving to notes of creosote, burnt notes, and a raisiny Port-like character. The palate is equally intense and tannic — nutty, again lightly raisin-dusted, flecked with orange peel, and blown out with wood. Lots of water helps, so don’t be shy, as it coaxes out notes of menthol and some drying tea leaf character, all of which is interesting, but decidedly scattered and above all else intense without relenting. I went back to this on a second night, but outside of a lengthy trip to the lumberyard, there’s just no great through-line for the whiskey. 138.7 proof. B+ [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS[BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY] [BUY IT NOW FROM FROOTBAT]

William Larue Weller Bourbon 2022 – The classic wheated bourbon, distilled in 2010 and aged in Warehouses I, L, and M. A big burst of fruit kicks things off this year, fading into a menthol note as things develop on the nose. Though the abv of Weller continues to fall, a touch of acetone nonetheless creeps into the experience with this year’s release, marring what is otherwise a lively experience with significant elements of paint thinner. The palate’s more wholly agreeable, with notes of bright apple and banana fruit, candied ginger, and cherries, really bringing out the fruity character of the bourbon. Caramel and coconut give the finish a tropical bent, with chocolate notes laced throughout. A big pop of pipe tobacco and dark chocolate wafers on the denouement is just delightful, making you forget all about that paint thinner thing I mentioned earlier. 124.7 proof. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY] [BUY IT NOW FROM FROOTBAT]

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye 2022 – Rye distilled in spring 2016 and aged in warehouses I, L, and M. I’ve never been a big Handy fan, as regular Drinkhacker readers know, but this installment really surprised me with its comparative finesse. Often bruising with wood, the nose lets the grassiness of the rye shine much clearer than prior bottlings, pairing it less with the lumberyard and more with notes of roasted nuts, bright red fruits, and potpourri. It’s just a bit too hot at full strength for easy enjoyment, but it doesn’t need the garden hose the way Stagg does to temper itself, just a splash. A light touch of water showcases green herbs, fresh pastry dough, brown sugar, and hints of chocolate. Turns out this is one of the more complex whiskeys in this year’s lineup, which is downright shocking. Without question this is the best bottling of Handy I have ever tasted in the last 15 years — and it’s far outpacing the 18 year old Sazerac Rye now. Whatever y’all did, keep doing it. 130.9 proof. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY] [BUY IT NOW FROM FROOTBAT]


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