Bourbon Breakdown: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

September 28, 2021

In our bourbon breakdown series we’ve previously covered the most notable bourbons under the Buffalo Trace Distillery umbrella such as E.H. Taylor, Weller, and the eponymous flagship bourbon, among many others. But the series would feel incomplete without mentioning the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Since 2000, this limited-edition whiskey series has been released each fall and has settled into a collection of three bourbons as well as two rye whiskeys.

As this is a bourbon series we’ll be detailing just the bourbon bottlings, but we’ll make sure to give a brief mention to the two rye whiskeys to keep you informed on the others in the collection.

Of course we have to mention that the whiskeys in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection aren’t just sitting on shelves waiting to be purchased. The demand each year makes them all near-impossible to procure. Still, there is a chance for you to have an opportunity to purchase a bottle. As a way to fairly distribute the bottles in the collection to their customers, many retailers have resorted to holding raffles or auctions for these whiskeys when they are released each year.

Unfortunately there are other retailers that simply jack up the price to hundreds of dollars more than the suggested retail price of $99 each. If you are one of the lucky ones able to get your hands on any bottle in the collection, consider yourself in for a treat.

George T. Stagg

This bourbon is named after the man who helped to build what is now known as Buffalo Trace. In fact, from 1900-1999 what is now known as Buffalo Trace Distillery was called George T. Stagg Distillery.

What we Know:

This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is an uncut, unfiltered low-rye bourbon aged at least 15 years. Of course, the proof varies with each release, but previous releases have the proof ranging from 114-140. Indeed, the highest proof of George T. Stagg released to date was 144.8 in 2007.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

The palate is rich like a slow-moving, sticky river of caramel; a lengthy finish mixes indulgent milk chocolate with baking spices and oak.

Avg US Price: $1,190
ABV: varies
Community Rating: 4.63 out of 5 stars (166 Ratings)*

*Tasting note and Community Rating for Fall 2020 Release.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: George T. StaggGeorge T. Stagg

Eagle Rare 17 Year

Eagle Rare has been a part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection since it was first released in 2000. Like George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare is also made with a low-rye bourbon recipe.

What we Know:

Historically the bourbon has been bottled at 90 proof. However, since 2018 the bottling proof has been permanently raised to 101 proof. In fact, 101 proof is a tribute to the original strength when the Eagle Rare brand first launched in 1974.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Vanilla bean and pudding followed by cinnamon-dusted coffee cake; finish is dark chocolate and black pepper.

Avg US Price: $1,921
ABV: 50.5%
Community Rating: 4.41 out of 5 stars (36 Ratings)*

*Tasting note and Community Rating for Fall 2020 Release.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Eagle Rare 17 YearEagle Rare 17 Year

William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller is credited with using wheat instead of rye as the secondary flavoring grain in bourbon production.

What we Know:

The Kentucky straight bourbon is an uncut and unfiltered wheated bourbon. It’s usually aged for around 12 years. The proof ranges from 117-135 with the highest so far being 140.2 in 2014.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Brown sugar, caramel and mint followed by rich dark chocolate syrup along with peaches and cream.

Avg US Price: $2,327
ABV: varies
Community Rating: 4.59 out of 5 stars (61 Ratings)*

*Tasting note and Community Rating for Fall 2020 Release.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: William Larue WellerWilliam Larue Weller

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Rye Whiskeys

It must be remembered that the parent company for Buffalo Trace Distillery is the Sazerac Co.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac

This straight rye is named after the New Orleans bartender who first used rye whiskey in a Sazerac cocktail (the tradition used to be brandy, typically cognac). This Kentucky straight rye whiskey is made with a low-rye rye mash bill and is bottled at barrel proof without chill filtration. Aged around 6-7 years (there is no age-statement), the proof generally comes somewhere between 125-132.

Sazerac 18 Year

Unlike the Thomas H. Handy bottling, this Kentucky straight rye whiskey does have an age statement of 18 years. However, the rye is chill-filtered and is bottled at 90 proof.

Ready to do your own Buffalo Trace Antique Collection comparisons?

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