Deep amber color. Bold and surprisingly youthful aromas, and quite vibrant for its age-huge spicy notes (mint, cinnamon, vanilla, anise, freshly ground pepper), with rich toffee, caramel and background fruit. Rich, enveloping body. Enormous in flavor, with youthful dynamic spices (mint, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper), wrapped in rich toffee and molasses, tamed by mature oak and leather notes. The flavors intensify on the palate, ultimately reaching a crescendo. The boldness of the spices and maturity of age dovetail perfectly. Its finish is very satisfying and seemingly eternal.
Very similar to last year’s release. Well rounded, with a gently sweet foundation (toffee, vanilla taffy), pleasant spice (cinnamon, mocha, soft evergreen), date, glazed citrus, bramble, and a gentle finish for a rye. A classic ultra-aged rye whiskey.
This is a good as rye whiskey gets. It’s powerfully spicy, yet there is a calming sweetness along with soft berry and citrus fruit behind the spice. I find its oily texture very soothing, and this also marries beautifully with the spice from the rye and the resinous oak. The flavors are crisp and incredibly clean, and the 18 years in oak has added formidable depth.
A benchmark rye whiskey, which has been stored in stainless steel tanks the past several years to prevent excessive aging while new batches mature. This is the last of the “tanked” stock. Soft and teasing for a rye whiskey, but perfectly balanced. Gentle toffee and molasses provide a foundation for interwoven clove, mint, and cinnamon. Delicately dry, lingering finish. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.
Still lively for 18 years old, with no hint of interfering oak. The age has softened the rye spice, making it an easy entry into the premium rye category. The balance here is beautiful, with rounded spice (mint, cinnamon, licorice root) on a bed of soft vanilla and caramel. Gently, dry finish. Very sophisticated for a rye. It remains my benchmark for extra-matured rye whiskeys, which are becoming exceedingly scarce. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.
A benchmark aged rye whiskey, and it’s similar in profile to recent releases . Vibrant for its age. Complex too, brimming with allspice, clove, mint, and cinnamon. The spice notes are balanced by soft vanilla, soothing caramel, and candied summer fruits. Impeccably balanced, and a pure joy to drink!
This was my second lowest rated whiskey from the 2009 Collection (a 91 rating). This one is an impressive whiskey, and an improvement from last year. It’s soft (for a straight rye), well rounded, and easy to embrace, with tamed spice (cinnamon, mint, vanilla, mocha), nougat, toffee, fruit (bramble, subtle citrus), subtle date, and polished leather on the finish. Buffalo Trace is playing a shell game with this aged rye (being stored in stainless steel tanks over the past several years until new stocks mature), but in this instance there seems to be a prize under every shell. Well done! (Editor's Choice)
Sazerac 18 year old Kentucky Straight (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2020), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $99
Pure panache: roasted cinnamon, allspice berries, baking chocolate, dried cherries, grape jelly, and polished oak on the nose; with time, aromas of nougat and almond. More chewy dried cherries and grape fruit leather on the palate, along with zippy cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, and a hint of mint. Dark chocolate, tobacco, and plenty of oak add support, especially after water is added. More dark fruit and dark chocolate on the finish, as well as persistent oak that swerves, pleasantly, into leather.
This Sazerac 18 year old is now a distinctly separate whiskey, after several years of releasing whiskey that had been stored in stainless steel to prevent further aging. It doesn’t have as much of the rye zing as previous releases, which may disappoint those hoping for a repeat performance. Still, the new release is richer and sweeter, which I find attractive. Toffee and molasses, yielding to clove, mint, and cinnamon. Polished leather on the finish cuts through the sweetness. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016.
Sazerac Rye 18 year old (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $90
Ah, the pleasant aroma of warm rye rolls nails its opening, but so much more awaits. Balsam, peppercorn, almond butter, arrowroot pie crust, pine nuts, pumpkin pie, brown sugar, and savory toasted rye bread tingle, as slight hints of pear, tobacco, and citrus develop. Then, it’s earth, from sautéed mushrooms to soil. The long, strong finish presents baking spices. Lovely sipping rye!
Sazerac 18 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $99
This elder rye shows fine craftsmanship, balancing touches of toasted-spice and floral aromas, with dried herbs, candied orange peel, and mature varnish notes. It’s big on the palate, with heaps of molasses, creamy vanilla sweetness, and orange Creamsicle that lead to pleasing cedar and sandalwood oak, with zesty grapefruit notes. The medium finish is satisfying and well balanced.
This whiskey has been getting intermittently softer and less vibrant since the 2005 release. Additionally, the 2009 release is slightly sweeter on the palate when compared to last year’s release. Is this good or bad? That depends on how you like your rye whiskeys. Personally, I’d like to see more rye zing, but the pleasing, soothing nature (for a rye) in this new release makes up for it. Notes of toffee, cinnamon, creamy vanilla, date, mocha, bramble, glazed citrus, soft mint, and dusty spice (nutmeg, cocoa), with a dry, polished leather finish. I like it slightly better than last year’s release, which I rated an 87. That was my least favorite vintage over the past five years. This new vintage is still not up to those classic Sazerac 18’s bottled in the first half of this decade, which I consistently rated 95 and higher.
Sazerac 18 year old Kentucky Straight Rye (2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $99
A nose of orange peel, dusty spice, licorice, cherry, dark fruit, and cola leads to a palate that’s spiced and smooth, and offers notes of lemon, orange peel, and pepper. Water enhances the citrus notes, and also brings out bitter cherry, dried orange slices, leather, and cracked pepper. The finish has good length, with a fair amount of oak influence, orange marmalade, cigar ash, dark chocolate, and bitter herbs.
Youthful and very lively. Bold, crisp, spices (mint, cinnamon, vanilla) are softened by soothing, sweeter notes (candied fruit, coconut, caramel, and rum notes), becoming dry, flinty, and spicy on the finish. It is very clean and polished, and it is superior to other rye whiskeys in this age range. Nicely done!
Deep and complex, yet still quite lovely for an 18 year old whisky. Not as a lush and sweet as its younger sibling (Thomas H.Handy), showing more oak, dried spice, and a certain degree of sophistication. Toffee and molasses are quickly matched and then dominated by notes of brittle mint, vanilla, cinnamon, dried fruit, and black raspberry leading to a long, earthy, resinous, polished leather finish. The last great vintage of Sazerac Rye 18 year old was 2005, which was impeccably balanced and still displayed great youthful qualities. The three vintages since then, including this one, are similar in flavor profile and, while still very nice whiskeys, show just a tad too much oak and lethargy to reach the classic status of the 2005 release.