While many of the whiskeys in Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection are released at cask strength, this 18 year old Sazerac Rye comes in at 45% ABV. This year’s batch comes from stainless steel tanks stored at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace vatted a large number of casks a few years back in order to halt the aging process.
This year’s Sazerac Rye is the exact same liquid that has appeared in the collection over the past few years. This isn’t a bad thing, as this liquid has garnered a tremendous number of accolades including American Whiskey of the Year from Whisky Advocate Magazine. This year’s release will be the last batch whiskey drawn from these stainless steel tanks, and next year’s release will come directly from barrels filled in 1998.
Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (45% ABV / 90 proof, $80) – even at this ABV, the nose on this year’s Sazerac Rye is strong and expressive. Rye grain leaps out of the glass and it is well backed by oak, clove, ginger, mint, and caramel. There’s a solid integration in the aromas of the nose and just enough of an edge to give it some real structure.
The entry matches the nose very closely with strong rye grain backed by light caramel, oak, ginger, clove, and black pepper. The mouthfeel on this whiskey is light but not thin, which matches the flavor experience very well. Instead of a dramatic build towards the midpalate, the flavors stay fairly straight line and increase slightly, maintaining a really solid balance and integration. The midpalate has just a slight bump in spice, with the cinnamon and oak jumping out with a slight dash of heat. The finish for this year’s Sazerac Rye is long and dry with nice lingering rye, cinnamon, oak, and mint. This mint lingers on the palate for quite a while, long after the whiskey has come and gone.
While we don’t think this Sazerac Rye is a “Whiskey of The Year”, it is, as in previous years, an excellent whiskey. The character, balance, flavor experience, and finish all are expertly crafted. As good as it is, there isn’t that je ne sais quoi that separates great whiskey from legendary. 92 points.
2015 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Reviews: