One of best examples of scarcity and ultra-aged whiskey on the market today is Eagle Rare 17 year. This once-a-year release under the antique collection from Buffalo Trace gives the most motivated whiskey enthusiasts something to really hunt (or beg) for. Given most people won't even get to see a bottle of this on the shelf, I'll keep the introduction brief. Is this highly allocated bottle worth chasing? Let's dive into the stats & tasting notes to find out.
Company on Label: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 (Low Rye < 10%)
Age: 17 years
Further identification: The 2022 release of Eagle Rare 17 Year brings along the following stats:
Nose: Oh wow. Classic bourbon notes of cherry and oak are on full display here; from the moment the whiskey hit the glass this could be smelled from a ways away. Lifting the glass to my nose shows off a touch of earthy clay I traditionally will get on vintage/dusty whiskeys. Raisin, cherry sweet tart and dried red raspberries can all be made out on the impeccably sweet aroma medley. Browned butter and dark faire pretzels can be made out in the well-rested glass. More hints of classic bourbon come about later with brown sugar and just a trace of caramel. Time for a sip.
Coming back to the nose I find a trove of leather, black pepper and smoked salt caramel. Deep inhales produce an elegant, level oak and leather aroma that equally can't be understated or overstated. More fruit aromas like orange peel can be found late into my exploration. Vintage whiskey tones continue to have me feeling nostalgic as I work through this. Vanilla bean, crushed walnut shells, burlap, and leather sit in the empty glass.
Palate: On first sip I find candied cherry, red raspberry and strawberry notes. The mouthfeel is distinctly sweet to the point of almost feeling sugary. Jumping back in elicits more balanced spice and bountiful wood tones. Overall it is warming in the mouth with cranberry sauce, cinnamon and pie crust notes carrying through on the linger. It's relatively nice, but also a little too classic for me to treat it as exceptional. Sipping later in the glass continues the same storyline with some of that earthy clay note from the nose translating onto the tongue now as well. Caramel and candied cherry continue to dominate as the glass gets lower. Marshmallow and vanilla tones manage to perpetually highlight the parallels to some dusty whiskies I've experienced. My last sip is creamy and fruity with raspberry, orange peel and Werther's caramel chews tingling on a medium long finish.
TL;DR: Deep, fruity bourbon balanced by good spice that has done well to not get overoaked
This 2022 release of the Eagle Rare 17 year bourbon manages to drink better than the others I have sampled from prior years. This release benefited greatly when the proof got bumped up to 101 in 2018. Fans of Elijah Craig 18 year, especially the pre-fire releases, will find this to be right up their alley.