Sazerac 18 (2017)
Since we began our efforts at providing review notes here at www.flightclubict.com just over a year ago, we have been able to bring you reviews of all of both the 2016 and 2017 Buffalo Trace Antique Collections, excluding one mysterious unicorn: the Sazerac 18 Rye.
A few months back, I was fortunate to sample (but not fully review) a flight of 2010, 2014 and 2015 Sazerac 18’s. For those of you who may remember, years ago Buffalo Trace vatted its remaining 18 year rye in stainless steel tanks to halt the aging process. All of that whiskey had been distilled over thirty years ago in 1985. While the stainless steel vatting was intended to halt the aging process, there were some subtle differences with the 2014 and 2015 batches, and the 2010 batch was had a bit more noted differences (each of them was amazing and rich in butterscotch, but the 2010 was a butterscotch bomb). That process ended with the 2015 batch, with last year’s 2016 batch being an entirely different “fresh” batch.
Last year’s batch did not receive rave reviews. According to Buffalo Trace’s release notes, both the 2016 and 2017 batches were distilled in the Spring of 1998, and are otherwise identical in composition save a slight change in evaporation. This leads to only one conclusion: Buffalo Trace vatted a number of barrels in 2016, and this year’s release is simply another release of basically identical whiskey.
This past weekend, I came across a bottle of the 2017 Sazerac 18 at Gamlin Whiskey House in St. Louis, Missouri. And while it may have only been 10:00 on a Sunday morning, I took the opportunity to try it out and how it compared to my recent memory of the earlier vatted rye. Recall that only 25 barrels were released in this year’s release, so finding even a pour was an exciting find.
Sazerac 18 (2017) (18 Years at the time of bottling)
Nose: Butterscotch; vanilla; caramel; old oak; baking/holiday spice, dark fruit leather; earthiness. (3.5/5)
Palate: Sweet and mellow; salted caramel; dill and ginger herbal spice; black pepper and rye spice; warming; oily. (4/5)
Finish: Medium; caramel; dry earth; dill. A bit odd mouthfeel like oily, dirty oak. (3/5)
Overall: While this 2017 Sazerac 18 is a good whiskey with no offensive characteristics, it lacks any element that stands out as impressive. What it is not is the old vatted Sazerac of pre-2016, which featured rich butterscotch indicative of no less than 18 years of age (and possibly 1985 distillation date). While I enjoyed this pour very much, I can’t say that this rates much beyond satisfying. (3.5/5)
Value: On paper this retails at $90-$100, like the rest of the BTAC collection. However, as this has been one of the most difficult BTACs to acquire over the past few years, prices on this in both secondary markets and retail (including bars) is often the highest of any of the given year’s releases. While I didn’t purchase a bottle, this pour was the highest of all the 2017 BTAC bottles at Gamlin. At retail or even as a pour, I’m just a bit underwhelmed as to Sazerac 18’s value. At full secondary, I’d be disappointed, and (for me) a purchase of this would be purely based on experience and collectability. (2.5/5)
“While this 2017 Sazerac 18 is a good whiskey with no offensive characteristics, it lacks any element that stands out as impressive. What it is not is the old vatted Sazerac of pre-2016, . . ..”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.