Buffalo Trace Distillery announced its 2021 Antique Collection of premium bourbons in a press release on Tuesday morning. And the announcement arrived with some big news: George T. Stagg is missing from this year’s lineup.
For the first time in nearly two decades the unicorn whiskey “did not meet the Stagg profile,” Buffalo Trace master distiller Harlan Wheatley stated.
“We discussed at great length how to proceed,” Wheatly said. “And ultimately decided we did not feel right about lowering our standards or the age, by dipping into next year’s supply of barrels.”
Since 2002, fans of the collection — at least, those who have been able to get their hands on the highly coveted bottle — have come to expect distinct lush toffee and dark chocolate flavors from George T. Stagg. Additionally, the award-winning bourbon typically boasts fruity notes and an oaky finish.
But according to Forbes, Sazerac’s master blender Drew Mayville said that “the whiskey was simply not developed enough.” The barrels in question have been aging since 2006. After undergoing a series of in-house taste tests, the company decided against releasing the batch citing a “variability in maturation.”
“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,” Wheatly reassured fans.
Luckily, the four remaining bottles in the collection are good to go for this year’s release. William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old, and Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old are set to sell for a suggested retail price of $99.
Yet, if normal years are anything to go by, drinkers can expect to pay many multiples of that at retail. And the chances of coming across these bottles are, in reality, not that much higher than spotting the (missing) 2021 Stagg on shelves.