2016 BTAC Lineup: Review
At long last: the 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskies. Let's dig in!
Sazerac: complex, old dusty rye spice on the nose (not a huge deviation from the stainless steel tanked version of the previous few years). Allspice, cloves, nutmeg, herbs, leather, and dark caramel sweets. Tons to appreciate on the palate and a long, complex finish. So smooth, yet will haunt your dreams - there's something magical about old-ass rye. Easy "A"
Eagle Rare: restrained on the nose at first, but once it opens up, it's equal parts sweet and woody - like bourbon perfume. This is soft, sweet stuff - pleasantly floral and whisper-smooth on the palate, with just enough oak influence (intriguingly smoky!) on the finish to remind you it's been in barrels for 17 years. Somehow not overoaked: vibrant...fresh, even. Very enjoyable. Some people will always think it's underproofed, but if I was a big-shot corporate executive, this is the bottle I would pull out to impress clients. "A-/A"
Handy: herbal tea on the nose, with pumpernickel bread, pickles, and caramel sweets underpinning everything. It drinks really smooth and sweet, especially considering the proof, with enough spice to keep things interesting. I know Handy has played the "red-headed stepchild" in previous lineups, but I really dig this. It's not super complex, but it's very enjoyable. "B+/A-"
Weller: massive on the nose - burnt caramel, vanilla bean, roasted peanuts, latex paint (in a good way!), and toasted oak. The palate is pretty much exactly what you'd expect given the aroma, with loads of hot and resiny wood influence. This is a bruiser: a bit, hot, sweaty bourbon in the vein of of Booker's, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and the like. Impressive. "B+/A-"
Stagg: somehow both bigger and smoother than the Weller on the nose. Dark caramel sweets, peppermint, cinnamon, leather, and furniture polish. This has an absolutely preposterous depth of flavor, and the finish does not quit - tons of oak tannin that slightly overtake the secondary elements. I think it's the bourbon equivalent of a "very important novel" - worthy of study and awe-inspiring, but not necessarily all that enjoyable. The oak influence is just a bit too much for me. "A-"
Huge thanks to Buffalo Trace for the samples - obviously they don't need the help selling these :)