Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Whiskey Wednesday: The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Est Arrivé
Last weekend, the first bottles of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) started appearing on local shelves. It's always an event when the BTAC arrives each fall, but this year, it's reached a level of frenzy that I've never seen before.
David Driscoll, the spirits buyer at K&L recently wrote on his blog that he was getting a huge volume of calls and emails asking about the Collection, and his three stores get only a case or less of each bottle. (By the way, if you aren't reading David's blog, you should be; he's one of the few retailers who writes really honestly about the whiskey retail world without always trying to sell you something). On StraightBourbon.com, there is a frenzy of activity as people try to find bottles so they can add one of each (or a case of each) to their already massive bourbon bunkers.
The excitement is understandable. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection includes some of the world's best whiskeys at reasonable prices. George T. Stagg is probably the world's most renowned bourbon. William Larue Weller is less popular than Stagg, but the reputation of this wheater is growing fast. Sazerac 18 and Thomas Handy are undoubtedly two of the best rye whiskeys around, and while Eagle Rare 17 may be the runt of the bunch, it's no slouch either. Even more amazing than the quality of this collection is the price. While some retailers have been known to jack it up into the three figures, they still regularly retail for $70-$85. I don't know that there is a better price/quality ratio in existence.
All that said, the frenzy is getting a bit out of hand. These things are becoming like the newest Xbox on Christmas Eve. I would appeal to all of the American whiskey lovers and collectors out there to, as Jon Stewart would say, take it down a notch.
While the BTAC is an annual release, they tend to be quite consistent from year to year, especially in the last four or five years. Do you really need a bottle of each when you have a closet full of the past releases? Can't we leave some for the newbies?
Even if you decide these are must haves, there are lots of stores that get the BTAC, including both the big chains and some much smaller, off the radar stores. There are always a few bottles that languish on shelves and usually some that pop up mid-year. If you live in Southern California and you are willing to put in a little bit of effort (i.e. drive around a bit), you should be able to find a bottle of each without too much effort.
Me? I picked up a Stagg, but I still have some Weller left from last year, and while I'm out of Sazerac and Handy, I have enough good rye on hand to keep my thirst quenched without buying these up.
So let's all take a deep breath. Remember folks, it's just whiskey, and there will probably be enough for everyone.