The 2022 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is all here. Most folks might only ever get to see one of these releases in a given year, but I got superbly lucky in the 2022 allocation season and managed to score one of each of them. As I worked through each bottle I found that almost all of them now have NFC tags under their caps. I confirmed my bottles of Thomas H. Handy, Sazerac 18, Eagle Rare 17 and William Larue Weller all had the tags. Interestingly George T. Stagg did not, perhaps due to the fact that it is distributed in the highest numbers. For Thomas H. Handy to have it and George to not... it seems odd. Regardless, it's great to see the anti-counterfeit measures in play and my inner nerd is always excited to explore a new feature like this. I downloaded the "NFC tools" on the Apple app store in order to read them. After following the link that comes up when scanned, it confirms the bottle type and it also confirmed that I did in fact open the bottle which is really cool. There are also some history blurbs alongside tasting notes. I believe a unique link is generated every time it is scanned, so I won't be able to share the output screen with you here.
Buffalo Trace announced this years lineup, saying:
The five ensemble members of the Antique Collection are George T. Stagg Bourbon, William Larue Weller Bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon and Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Whiskey. These whiskies utilize three distinct mash bills, or recipes, from Buffalo Trace Distillery: rye mash bill #1, wheat mash bill and straight rye mash bill. Aged and proofed at the pinnacle of their taste profile set by the distilling and lab team experts at Buffalo Trace, this collection is sold separately and only available once a year.
Typically only the most well connected whiskey enthusiasts (or those with the deepest pockets) will be able to find and taste these. It's a wonderful exercise in rarity, marketing and just plain-old good whiskey. Let's get into it. The notes presented below were from the conglomerate tasting, but feel free to click through the batch link to view a deeper review of each if you're interested.
This flight is going to be epic!
Flash Review: Here comes the train. Are you going to get out of the way? No? Well alright then, good luck... Boom. George T. Stagg hits you like the guy you never saw coming when you went up to try to catch that long toss of the football. My goodness, the flavors you'll find - the memories you'll rekindle... This is good whiskey through and through. After a 1 year hiatus of not being released, George comes back with an unmatched vengeance. This is an absolute powerhouse of bourbon flavor: red berry compote, cranberry juice, fig syrup, nutmeg, glazed doughnut, and effervescent strawberry? You name it. I could go on. The full write up chronicles the whole story. You better get after this one.
Flash Review: This has a lot to offer in the way of complexity, but you have to be patient with it. At face value this seems very much like your classic bourbon profile - one you might be able to easily get out of a 10 year Eagle Rare single barrel pick. If you take your time with this one it will prove that it has plenty to go around in the flavor department. I'm pretty sure I've tasted just about every fruit there is on this one in my last 3 tastings. Cherry, orange peel, cinnamon and leather are the highlights of this delicious dram. Comparing this to the George T. Stagg isn't even fair due to the proof and depth difference, but it does highlight a bit of a coffee note that the other releases do not. The exquisite palate of the Eagle Rare 17 Year puts it just ahead of William Larue, though I think I'd give Monsieur Larue the nod for the better nose.
Flash Review: This complex Weller-on-steroids is what I wish modern Pappy would be. Grow up and give me some big, bold, sweet flavors already. Oh yeah, William Larue Weller does just that. Gobs of cherry (this is a common theme amongst Buffalo Trace distillate), raspberry and blackberry produce a wonderful array of flavors I'll be keeping Amongst the Whiskey. Nosing the empty glass here could keep me entertained for hours.
Flash Review: This younger rye manages to sing a good tune in this lineup with bodacious flavor jumping out of the glass. I find lemon zest, expressed orange peel and grapefruit on a crazy citrus-ladened sip. It's a punchy powerhouse that definitely scratches my rye itch. This is my sharing bottle. I couldn't tell you how many people I've enjoyed this with, but if you can't tell by the fill level in the cover image of my deeper review, it's been a lot. That's what whiskey is all about for me, and hopefully you share that sentiment.
Flash Review: Unfortunately this year just doesn't manage to make too big of a splash for me. I am no proof snob where I require a certain threshold to be entertained - I've had plenty of good whiskeys down in the 90 proof range. This unfortunately just isn't one of them that delivers a whole lot of flavor, which is something that I value when drinking whiskey. The notes I do find are light buttered rolls, butterscotch, clay, and cardamom. It's got good mild spice, but I'm perpetually looking for more here. I certainly wouldn't turn my nose from trying it again & will hopefully include it in some blind flights coming up here soon.
GTS (5/5) > ER17 (4.5/5) > WLW (4.5/5) > THH (3.5/5) > Saz18 (3/5)
That's a wrap! The 2022 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection delivered some serious hits. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring these whiskeys. Here's to hoping 2023 can soar to even further heights.