Every fall Buffalo Trace releases their Antique Collection comprised of three bourbons (George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, and Eagle Rare 17 Year Old) and two rye whiskies (Sazerac 18 Year Old and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac). They range in age from 6 or so years to 18, and three of them are barrel proof. These five whiskies are coveted among American whiskey fans. George Stagg and Sazerac 18 are almost always at the top of “best of” whiskey lists each year. Lately, hype surrounds certain bourbons (Pappy, anyone?), and these five whiskies are no exception.
This year’s George T. Stagg was distilled in 1998, making it 16 years old. It comes to us “uncut & unfiltered” at a hearty 138.1 proof. If you’re used to only drinking 80 or 90 proof bourbon, this number looks astronomical. The strongest Stagg release was back in 1997, which saw a 144.8 proof bourbon. Yikes! I like sipping neat first, then adding a little water if I need it. Most times I don’t. This time I kept it close-by. Buffalo Trace Distillery provided a review sample.
This stuff smells nice. I got alcohol fumes, caramel, toasted oak, and a little citrus. Tasting it (slowly), I find it’s one of the thicker whiskies I’ve had. Could be due to the high proof. I got lots of toffee, butterscotch, cinnamon, a little oak and some vanilla. There was also a little bitterness. Buffalo Trace’s included tasting notes mentioned dark chocolate. That may be the best way to describe the bitterness. Now, don’t go expecting a Hershey bar here. The finish was long and bittersweet. The heat fades after a few sometimes
intense spicy moments. I tasted about half the glass neat, then added a minuscule amount of water. The water slightly calmed down the heat and spaced the flavored out a bit.
The suggested retail price for the whiskies in the Antique Collection is $80. Anything higher than that and your store is gouging your wallet. I spoke about whiskey hype earlier in the post. This one lives up to whatever hype it receives. Drinking George T. Stagg is a truly sensory experience. Don’t pass up a chance to purchase a bottle (at a reasonable price). Your taste buds will thank you.