Buffalo Trace Announces 2021 Antique Collection – No Stagg This Year


October 6, 2021

Buffalo Trace Distillery announced the release its Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) this fall, but without one of its beloved offerings – there will be no George T. Stagg release this year.

According to a news release, the 15-year-old barrels designated for the release do not meet the Distillery’s taste standards for the Stagg brand. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley said that before any barrel is released, it goes through testing procedures to test its quality.

“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,” Wheatley said. “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.” 

There are various measures of quality tests administered to all of Buffalo Trace’s bourbon, the distillery statement said, from checking turbidity and testing samples using gas chromatography. But each barrel also must be tested by a team of taste testers, who have all gone through sensory analysis training, to ensure it matches brand standards before it is dumped to be bottled. If one taster disagrees, the barrel is sent back to be aged longer. 

“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. Here are details of each:

William Larue Weller: This is the Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon. 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. 

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye: This is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey of the collection. 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. 

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old: This 101 proof whiskey was distilled in Spring of 2002 and aged on the first floor of Warehouse P. 

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old: Barrels for this 2021 straight rye whiskey release 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. 

SRP on each bottle is $99.