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Yes, I know it's July 12 - eight days after Independence Day. But hey, whaddya want? It's been a busy time: work is nuts, my girlfriend and her four-year-old are staying with me right now, and generally life is busy. And so, finally, here I am, with another Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottle.
Well, not a bottle, but a sample, courtesy of @Victor. George T. Stagg was the one time proprietor of what is now known as Buffalo Trace. It seems Stagg was a ruthless businessman - he forced out his partner E. H. Taylor Jr when Taylor's debts to Stagg piled up, and too legal action against him to prevent his use of his own name on the Old Taylor brand! Niiiiiiiiice.
Stagg is the flagship of the Antique Collection. It is uncut and unfiltered, and each annual release is at least 15 years old (and tastes like it). This 2011 release is actually 17 years old, having been distilled in the winter of 1993 and bottled in the fall of 2011. Pretty old for a modern bourbon!
The colour is a deep burgundy with lighter reddish highlights. On the nose, I first get hit with dark chocolate, musty mahogany bookshelves, and buckets of oak. There is massive complexity here with vanilla, cherries and very pungent herbs. Cinnamon and cloves. More floral and with aromatic herbs, if you add a drop of water.
In the mouth, immediately mouth-drying and mouth-puckering with the huge tannins! Big heat, but with molasses, caramel, smoky paprika and chorizo. And more chocolate! Pow! Water actually increases the heat and pumps up the chorizo sausage. Fascinating.
The finish is beautiful, with lots of oak, gentle spices and, surprisingly, port. You'll also be surprised that the finish is not as huge as the palate - it elegantly peters out, leaving you wanting more, much more. This is a show-off bourbon, absolutely fantastic and one of the greatest American whiskies you'll ever taste (and a big 96.5 score from Jim Murray). Hard to say what the difference is between this edition and other editions? Hmmmm...how does one find out? I wonder...stay tuned...