Buffalo Trace Antique Collection The Complete Guide to the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

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Looking for details on the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022? Scroll down to see the latest line-up!

We are officially one month on from the Autumn equinox and in the United Kingdom those first signs of Autumn have confirmed that a new season is well and truly underway. The spectacle of leaves turning to rich reds and ambers has begun, the nights are drawing in and coffee chains across the country have launched their Fall marketing campaigns consisting of pumpkin spice and all things nice.

However, for many whisky enthusiasts across the globe, the September Equinox brought a fond reminder of one of the most anticipated collections of American whiskeys - the unofficial harbinger of autumn, The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.


The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Born in 2000 to capitalise on the emerging popularity of well-aged, premium whiskey, the Antique Collection celebrated the brands and individuals most important to the historic distillery, offering prestige expressions of the company’s existing brands and soon expanding to include new products. Whisky Auctioneer's Head Curator, Joe Wilson, tells us a little more about the significance of the collection within the world of collectible whiskey.


The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is a unique celebration of the Sazerac Company and its flagship Kentucky distillery.


Launched in 2000, it collected the historic Weller and Eagle Rare bourbon brands alongside several new labels that all lay claim to a genuine and traceable distilling lineage. This latter point is an enviable accolade in the world of American whiskey, with many modern brands built upon bought heritage or simply slick marketing. Names like George T. Stagg and Sazerac Rye not only drew from centuries of entwined history, but the whiskies that they gave name to were exceptional as well.


Twenty-years on from its inception, each constituent part of the Antique Collection has become important in its own right, and they are some of the most ethereal lights in the bright future ushered in by the 21st century for the world of bourbon and rye.


Joe Wilson, Head Curator and Spirits Specialist at Whisky Auctioneer


Released annually, the Antique Collection, or BTAC as it is affectionately acronymised, is now one of the most anticipated releases in the bourbon calendar, and every instalment from its 20-year lineage a must-have for every serious collector.

There are a number of factors that can be contributed to the hype behind the collection nowadays, but Joe believes that it is most notably attributed to the high quality of spirit that was bottled in early releases catching the attention of bourbon enthusiasts and connoisseurs.


One of the biggest reasons these releases quickly became so desirable in the whiskey community was their reputed liquid quality. The original W.L. Weller releases contained well-aged stock from the celebrated Stitzel-Weller while the George T. Stagg demonstrated the pedigree of Buffalo Trace itself, always selected from some of the distillery's most interesting barrels and bottled for the connoisseur, un-filtered at cask strength.


Similarly, the batch of rye that was used for the early Sazerac releases is legendary and also became a key component in some of the whiskey world's most coveted expressions from other brands such as Willett Family Estate and Black Maple Hill.


Joe Wilson, Head Curator and Spirits Specialist at Whisky Auctioneer

Buffalo Trace Antique DistilleryBuffalo Trace Distillery from Riverbank (Buffalo Trace Media Kit)


Brief History of The Buffalo Trace Distillery

A historic distillery, Buffalo Trace was built in 1812 by Harrison Blanton. It was purchased by the legendary Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr in 1870, who named it OFC (Old Fashioned Copper) and invested heavily in its modernisation. So much so in fact that he declared himself bankrupt after just seven years. George T. Stagg then stepped in to rescue it, becoming its owner in 1878. He ran the distillery until his retirement in the 1890s, and it was renamed in his honour in 1904.

Having survived Prohibition, it was bought up by the Schenley company in 1933, who ran it as part of their extensive portfolio for the next fifty years, eventually selling it to Age International. The latter’s new Japanese ownership in 1992 had no interest in it (only in its brands), and immediately sold it to the Sazerac Company, who renamed it Buffalo Trace in 1999.


Every BTAC Whiskey, Explained

The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection currently features five rare offerings from Buffalo Trace’s portfolio, three bourbon and two rye whiskies. Since its launch in 2000, the Antique Collection has evolved from a trilogy into the line-up we cherish today, with Thomas H. Handy the last to be introduced to the series in 2006.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

>> View our Guide to the Buffalo Trace Mashbills

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

Buffalo Trace’s parent company, Sazerac, purchased the historic Eagle Rare brand from Seagram in 1989, who had developed it in the 1970s to replicate what it felt where the successful motifs used by the Wild Turkey brand.

An inaugural member of the Antique Collection in 2000, the first Eagle Rare 17 Year Old was distilled in the Fall of 1982 and matured in Warehouse "V" - a one-barrel warehouse which was built in 1952 (read the first Eagle Rare 17 Year Old annual release letter here). Made with Buffalo Trace's Mashbill #1 and aged for an extended period of 17 years (standard Eagle Rare is aged for ten), the Eagle Rare was historically always released at 90-proof until 2018 when it changed to a 101 proof release. 


George T. Stagg

George T. Stagg helped build the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, during a time known as the ‘Gilded Age of Bourbon’. In honour of his influence, Buffalo Trace introduced this bourbon in namesake of their previous owner to the Antique Collection in 2002 (read the first George T. Stagg annual release letter here).

Aged for no less than 15 years, George T. Stagg is famed for its rich flavour profile and widely acclaimed to be the ‘powerhouse favourite’ of the collection.


Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Sazerac 18 year old is widely regarded as one of the best rye whiskies in the world. It is named after the Sazerac Coffee House, a bar owned by Sazerac company founder Thomas H. Handy, that is famed as the home of “America’s First Cocktail”.

Also present from the beginning of the Antique Collection, the first Sazerac Rye was distilled in Spring 1981, matured in Warehouse "Q" and experienced an angel's share loss of 74% (read the first Sazerac Rye annual release letter here).


William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller was a 19th century whiskey rectifier and distiller, who’s W.L. Weller and Sons company was run by the legendary Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle. The W.L. Weller brand is now produced at Buffalo Trace.

Originally featured as a 19 year old W.L. Weller from 2000 - 2002, the brand was re-introduced to the collection after a 2-year hiatus as the younger "William Larue Weller" in 2005. This wheated bourbon recipe uses wheat instead of rye in the mash, a production method pioneered by W.L. Weller, for a softer, smoother taste.


Thomas H. Handy

Thomas H. Handy is a rye whiskey named after the bartender and former owner of the Sazerac Coffee House. The first Thomas H. Handy rye was bottled in 2006 as part of the Antique Collection, the last brand to be introduced to the series we recognise as BTAC today.

A cask-strength straight rye whiskey, Thomas H. Handy was introduced in response to the consumer demand for a higher strength version of their Sazerac Rye.


Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022 Line Up

On 26 October, Buffalo Trace released details on the 2022 Antique Collection which included the much beloved return of George T. Stagg after a 2021 hiatus due to not meeting standards for that brand (and it's back at a hefty 138.7 proof, its highest since 2016). Click on each link below to view the Annual Release letter for each brand.


George T Stagg 15 Year Old 2022 Release

After being noticeably absent from the 2021 release, it's fantastic to see George T Stagg back in 2022. Distilled in 2007, it has returned in its regular format as a 15 year old after ageing in warehouses K, M and P with a staggering 74% of the original whiskey lost to the angel's share.


Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2022 Release

Distilled in 2005, and bottled at a customary 17 years of age and 101 proof, the barrels for this year's Eagle Rare release were aged in warehouses H, K and L with 70% of the whiskey lost to evaporation. This follows the 2021 release which won Chairman's Trophy at the 2022 Ultimate Spirits Challenge which is given to the highest-scoring entry per category.


Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old 2022 Release

The collection of rye barrels used in the 2022 Sazerac release were distilled in 2003 and 2004, meaning that the liquid in bottle has aged for 18 years and 6 months. The barrels spent these years ageing in warehouses K, M and P.


William Larue Weller 2022 Release 

Distilled in 2010, and bottled after 12 years and 10 months maturing in warehouses C, K and N, the 2022 William Larue Weller (BTAC's wheated recipe) reached a proof of 124.7 proof after entering the barrels at 114 proof.


Thomas H Handy 2022 Release

This year's straight rye whiskey from Thomas H. Handy is comprised of barrels aged 6 years plus. The barrels matured in warehouses I, L and M before marrying and bottling at its highest proof since 2012 - 130.9 proof.


Top Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Bottles on Whisky Auctioneer

George T Stagg 2002 Inaugural Release - £4,700 Hammer Price

W.L. Weller 1983 19 Year Old Fall 2002 - £3,800 Hammer Price

Eagle Rare 1984 17 Year Old Fall 2001 - £2,000 Hammer Price

Sazerac 1983 18 Year Old Rye Fall 2001 - £2,000 Hammer Price

Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye 2006 Release - £1,265 Hammer Price


Whisky Auctioneer regularly welcomes rare and collectible expressions from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection in our monthly auctions. Browse all past and present BTAC whiskey lots using our search function or contact us if you are interested in selling a bottle.