Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection of Bourbon and Rye Whiskies

The annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, announcement in the Fall is kind of like clockwork, fans anticipate it like the ringing of church bells at high noon. The annual release normally includes three bourbons and two rye whiskies but there is one that will be missing from the party this year. The 2021 BTAC collection includes no George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Buffalo Trace says this year’s bourbon just didn’t meet the standard.

This year’s release of uncut, unfiltered whiskies varies from 6 to 18 years with a range of 90 to 129.5 proof. Before we get into the details let’s deliver the bad news first.

2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection includes No George T. Stagg Bourbon

There are various measures of quality tests administered to all of Buffalo Trace’s bourbon, everything from checking turbidity and testing samples using gas chromatography. But the most discriminating test of all is the human palate. A team of taste testers, who have all gone through sensory analysis training, taste each barrel sample brought to the laboratory at Buffalo Trace to ensure each barrel matches brand standards before it is dumped to be bottled. If one taster disagrees, the barrel is sent back to be aged longer.

This year’s 15-year-old George T. Stagg did not meet the Distillery’s taste standards for the brand and was sent back to the warehouse.

“Before any barrel can be dumped and bottled, it goes through rigorous testing procedures numerous times to ensure it is meeting the quality standards set forth for that brand,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley.

“Unfortunately, this crop of barrels earmarked to be Stagg back when it was put in the barrel in 2006 did not meet the Stagg profile today. We discussed at great length how to proceed, and ultimately decided we did not feel right about lowering our standards or the age, by dipping into next year’s supply of barrels. We know fans will be disappointed, as are we, but we could not release a bourbon that we did not feel was up to par with the flavor profile expected of George T. Stagg.”

Buffalo Trace Distillery - Drew Mayville, Master Blender and Director of Quality
Drew Mayville, Master Blender and Director of Quality at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

“Quality is always paramount for our products,” said Drew Mayville, master blender, director of quality. “If the taste doesn’t match our expectations, then we will not release it to our customers. And unfortunately, this year’s yield of Stagg did not meet our expectations. Good news is, we’ll have the barrels we put up in 2007, which are on track so far for a 2022 release, barring anything unforeseen changes.”

The four remaining members of the Antique Collection, William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old and Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old will be released and should be available at retail starting later this month.

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And now without further ado, let’s jump right in to the 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.


William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. The 2021 release was distilled in the winter of 2009 and aged in Warehouses C, D, K, L and Q. This bourbon registers at 125.3 proof. A nose of crème brulee, followed by cherry and toasted graham crackers on the palate and a long rich finish of coca, herbs and oak can be found in this year’s offering.

Age Profile

Year of Distillation: Winter of 2009
Release: Fall of 2021
Proof for release:
 125.3 Proof

Recipe

Large Grain: Kentucky Corn, Distillers Grade #1 and #2
Small Grain: North Dakota Wheat
Finish Grain: North Dakota Malted Barley

Cooking / Fermentation

Milling Screen: #10
Cook Temperature: 240 Degrees Fahrenheit
Water: Kentucky Limestone with Reverse Osmosis
Fermentation: Carbon Steel / Black Iron Fermenter
Mash: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Distillation: Double distilled; beer still and doubler
Proof off still: 130 proof
Barrel: New, White Oak, #4 Char; Charred for 55 seconds
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Barrel Entry Proof: 114 proof
Barrel Size: 53 liquid gallons (66.25 original proof gallons)
Warehouse: K, L, D, Q, C
Floors: 1, 2 and 3
Evaporation Loss: 64.0% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Filtration: None
Product Age: 12 years and 6 months at bottling
Tasting Notes: Nose: Crème brulee. Palate: Cherry & toasted graham crackers. Finish: Long, rich finish of cocoa, herbs and oak.


Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey


Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2015; aged in warehouses I, L, O, and K and weighs in at 129.5 proof. The flavor profile includes anise and cinnamon with a rich finish of spearmint and chocolate. 

Age Profile

Year of Distillation: Spring 2015
Release: Fall of 2021
Proof for Release: 129.5 proof

Recipe

Large Grain: Minnesota Rye
Small Grain: Kentucky Corn, Distillers Grade #1 and #2
Finish Grain: North Dakota Malted Barley

Cooking/Fermentation

Milling Screen: #10
Cook Temperature: 240 Degrees Fahrenheit
Water: Kentucky Limestone with Reverse Osmosis
Fermentation: Carbon Steel / Black Iron Fermenter
Mash: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Distillation: Double distilled; beer still and doubler
Proof off still: 135 proof
Barrel: New, White Oak, #4 Char; Charred for 55 seconds
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Barrel Entry Proof: 125 proof
Barrel Size: 53 liquid gallons (66.25 original proof gallons)
Warehouse: I, L, O & K
Floor: 5, 6 and 7
Evaporation Loss: 31.0% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Filtration: None
Product Age: 6 years and 4 months old at bottling
Tasting Notes: Nose: Anise and cinnamon. Palate: Beautiful balance of pepper and floral notes. Finish: Rich finish of spearmint and chocolate.


Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This 101 proof whiskey was distilled in Spring of 2002 and aged on the first floor of Warehouse P. This bourbon has a nose of ripe cherries, vanilla cream and oak, followed by a taste of caramel and coffee and a long finish of oak, pepper and fresh herbs.

Age Profile

Year of Distillation: Spring 2003
Release: Fall of 2021
Proof for Release: 101 proof

Recipe

Large Grain: Kentucky Corn, Distillers Grade #1 and #2
Small Grain: Minnesota Rye
Finish Grain: North Dakota Distillers Malted Barley

Cooking/Fermentation

Milling Screen: #10
Cook Temperature: 240 Degrees Fahrenheit
Water: Kentucky Limestone with Reverse Osmosis
Fermentation: Carbon Steel / Black Iron Fermenter
Mash: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Distillation: Double distilled; beer still and doubler
Proof off still: 140 proof
Barrel: New, White Oak, #4 Char; Charred for 55 seconds
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Barrel Entry Proof: 125 proof
Barrel Size: 53 liquid gallons (66.25 original proof gallons)
Warehouse: C, Q, K and M
Floor: 1, 2, 3 and 5
Evaporation Loss: 73.0% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Filtration: Chill
Product Age: 18 years and 6 months old at bottling
Tasting Notes: Nose: Cherry compote and salted caramel. Palate: Ripe cherry, oak and anise. Finish: Long finish of black pepper and spearmint.


Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey


Buffalo Trace Distillery - 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

This 2021 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of bright apples and herbs, anise and maple syrup on the palate and a finish of cocoa, coffee and dates. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 2003 and it rested on the second and fourth floors of Warehouses K and P. It is bottled at 90 proof. 

Age Profile

Year of Distillation: Spring 2003
Release: Fall of 2021
Proof for Release: 90 proof

Recipe

Large Grain: Minnesota Rye
Small Grain: Kentucky Corn, Distillers Grade #1 and #2
Finish Grain: North Dakota Malted Barley

Cooking/Fermentation

Milling Screen: #10
Cook Temperature: 240 Degrees Fahrenheit
Water: Kentucky Limestone with Reverse Osmosis
Fermentation: Carbon Steel / Black Iron Fermenter
Mash: Sour

Distillation and Aging

Distillation: Double distilled; beer still and doubler
Proof off still: 135 proof
Barrel: New, White Oak, #4 Char; Charred for 55 seconds
Barrel Maker: Independent Stave
Barrel Entry Proof: 125 proof
Barrel Size: 53 liquid gallons (66.25 original proof gallons)
Warehouse: K and P
Floor: 2 and 4
Evaporation Loss: 69.0% of the original whiskey lost to the Angel’s

Bottling

Filtration: Chill
Product Age: 18 years and 4 months old at bottling
Tasting Notes: Nose: Bright apples and herbs. Palate: Anise and maple syrup. Finish: Complex finish cocoa, coffee and dates.


The 2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) bourbon and rye whiskeys, minus George T. Stagg, will be available in limited quantities starting in late October. Each bottle from the BTAC collection has a suggested retail price is $99 each. Good luck!

Related Stories
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Limited Supply 2020 Bourbon & Rye Antique Collection – 90° to 134.5° Proof
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases Limited Supply 2019 Bourbon & Rye Antique Collection – 90° to 128° Proof
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2018 Bourbon & Rye Antique Collection – 17 Year Old Eagle Rare Now 101°
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2017 Antique Collection – 90 to 129.2 Proof 
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2016 Antique Collection – 90 to 144 Proof 
Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2015 Antique Collection Whiskeys – 90 to 138 Proof
Buffalo Trace Distillery 2015 Antique Collection Whiskeys by the Numbers

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