If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I offered my initial thoughts on each whiskey upon my first taste of them. Since then, I’ve tasted each one a few more times, including tasting each one side by side with its 2015 counterpart, and I have some additional thoughts to offer. Here is my general impression of each whiskey, and the overall Collection, after going through this exercise. You can use it as a guide when determining which whiskey you might want to track down and purchase. (A formal review, with detailed tasting notes and ratings, will appear in the winter issue of Whisky Advocate. Subscribe now.)
Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%, $90
This release of Sazerac 18 year old is a distinctly separate whiskey, after several years of the same whiskey that had been stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent further aging. The new release doesn’t have as much of the rye zing as previous releases—especially on the finish—which will most likely disappoint those hoping for a repeat performance. Still, the new release is richer and sweeter than previous releases, which I find attractive. It’s also softer and gentler. If I had to choose between the new version and previous (tanked) releases, I’d pick the previous ones because of the well-defined rye notes. (There’s a reason why I chose the 2014 release as our Whisky of the Year.) But I still like the new release.
Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%, $90
This whiskey is often overlooked by enthusiasts because it’s not as high in alcohol as most of its siblings. I like 2016 a little better than last year’s release, which I felt brandished more oak on the finish than needed. The new release is well rounded and subtly complex. It’s the sleeper in this year’s Collection. I really enjoy it.<img class="size-medium wp-image-22742 alignleft" src="http://whiskyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/BTAntique-300×278.jpg" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" srcset="http://whiskyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/BTAntique-300×278 viagra en pharmacie vente.jpg 300w, http://whiskyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/BTAntique-768×711.jpg 768w, http://whiskyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/BTAntique-1024×947.jpg 1024w” alt=”btantique” width=”300″ height=”278″ />
William Larue Weller, 67.7%, $90
Distilled in 2003. Weller is the “wheated” bourbon in the Collection, with wheat replacing the rye found in most other bourbons. It’s a great representation, too. Like last year’s release, this is an easy-drinking, soothing whiskey, with a gentle demeanor. A very good 12 year old cask strength wheated bourbon. Perhaps even better than last year’s offering, which I really liked.
Thomas H. Handy Rye, 63.1%, $90
Distilled in 2010, this is the youngest whiskey in the Collection, and younger than last year’s release. I feel its youth is a slight liability, as it comes across a bit green and harsh, even for a Handy. It’s not overly complex either. While enjoyable, this is one of the weaker years for Handy.
George T. Stagg, 72.05%, $90
Distilled in 2001. This year’s Stagg is a departure from recent releases, which were complex and nicely balanced. It’s more aggressive, with tannins and oak dominating, and lacking the body and sweetness to balance it. It’s my least favorite of this year’s offerings and, quite frankly, disappointing.
Overall, I would have to say that the 2016 Antique Collection is not as good as recent years, but there are still bright spots in the Collection. If I were tracking down a bottle to purchase, I would focus on Weller, Sazerac, and Eagle Rare.