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All 19 Brands From The Buffalo Trace Distillery, Ranked

Buffalo Trace is one of those distilleries that’s reached full mythic status. Whiskey lovers from around the world whisper about the secret mash bills, hallowed brick rickhouses, and very rare juice that’s made on their stills. Pappy, Eagle Rare, Sazerac Rye, Weller, Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr., and Blanton’s are all household names in the whiskey world.

But Buffalo Trace’s roster goes well beyond those signature brands. All told, Buffalo Trace puts out dozens of whiskeys under 19 unique brand names. They also have a bespoke soda pop shingle with ginger ale, root beer, and ginger beer but we’ll save those for another day.

Today, we’re ranking all 19 brands from Buffalo Trace Distillery and calling out our favorite bottles from each one. It’s impossible to do this without taking price and accessibility into this ranking. Buffalo Trace’s whiskeys are some of the most sought after and, therefore, ridiculously priced whiskeys in the world. They also release some super rare juice that you’re probably never going to find outside of the distillery shop, lotteries, or by owning a liquor store of your own. We can’t pretend that everyone can get all of these, even if we’ve been lucky enough to taste them.

In the end, we’re ranking these bottles and brands by how tasty, affordable, and attainable their expressions are. It’s a balancing act, so bear with us let’s see how it all shakes out. If you do have a little extra change to spend, click on the price of any bottle that grabs you.

19. White Dog — Wheated Mash

Sazerac Company

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $18 (half-bottle)

The Whiskey:

This recipe harkens back to William Larue Weller and his wheated bourbon recipe. The mash bills tosses out the rye and replaces it with wheat. The juice is then bottled without a moment spent aging in oak. Essentially, this is the original juice that launched the whole wheated bourbon movement, just unaged.

Tasting Notes:

This has a nose of freshly baked whole wheat bread with a crunchy crust and a touch of salt next to a slight alcohol burn. There’s a throughline of grainy wheat that’s slightly sweetened by sweet corn and a hint of allspice. The end is abrupt and will leave you with a slight lingering alcohol heat beside sweet corn.

Bottom Line:

Look, this list has to start somewhere. This isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s pretty tasty albeit one-note. Still, this is the progenitor of Pappy, Weller, Elmer T. Lee, and all the rest of Buffalo Trace’s wheated masterpieces.

18. Ancient Age

Sazerac Company

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $11.50

The Whiskey:

This nearly bottom-shelf bourbon is functional and cheap. The juice is the same mash bill as Buffalo Trace’s much-lauded and beloved Blanton’s Single Barrel. Granted this is not a single barrel, but it’s the same juice that’s blended with other barrels that weren’t deemed quite good enough to become Blanton’s.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear note of corn up top with vanilla, caramel, and a bit of butter. The sweetness leans into toffee territory with a mild hint of spice next to a caramel corn feel. The end is cut short by a rush of citrus and you’re left with a slight warmth.

Bottom Line:

Maybe this should have been in the last position? This is a budget bourbon that’s just potable enough to sip in a highball or in a cocktail. It’s not something that’s going to enlighten you or educate your palate. It’ll give you a nice buzz without any rough edges. You can’t ask for more at this price point.

17. McAfee Brothers Benchmark — Benchmark Bonded

Sazerac Company

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

The McAfree brothers were the trio who followed the Great Buffalo Trail from Virginia into Kentucky in the 1770s and founded what would become part of today’s Buffalo Trace. The juice in this bottle is from Buffalo Trace’s Mash #1, which has a scant amount of barley and rye next to mostly corn. This is the same mash that’s used for bigger hitting brands like Eagle Rare, Stagg, and E.H. Taylor. In this case, this is a four-year-old bonded that’s sort of like a proto-E.H. Taylor Small Batch.

Tasting Notes:

This is surprisingly bright with a nose full of lemon-honey tart sweetness, a touch of vanilla extract, a hint of charred wood, and maybe a little wet leather. The taste keeps it simple and really leans into the oak and vanilla while the honey sweetness mellows to a standard caramel with a hint of spicy tobacco. The end is pretty short but leaves you with that vanilla, honey, and tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is the epitome of a “Hey, that’s not bad” bottle of bourbon. The Bonded expression is a big step up from the standard Benchmark Old No. 8 as well. Still, this is a mixer that only really works over the rocks in a highball.

16. Bourbon Cream

Sazerac Company

ABV: 15%

Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

Bourbon Cream is a funny thing. The base is a mix of vanilla-infused cream cut with Buffalo Trace’s signature bourbon. There’s really not a lot known about this product besides those few facts.

Tasting Notes:

This is kind of like Bailey’s Irish Cream turned up to eleven. It’s thick, very vanilla-forward, and has a minor hint of bourbon in the sense of an almost chocolate-cream spiked eggnog. There are holiday spices that pop up nicely next to all that creaminess that helps it not get too heavy (that’s not to say this isn’t very heavy).

Bottom Line:

It’s hard to recommend this on its own unless you know someone who has a serious sweet tooth. That being said, pour this over vanilla ice cream and you have an amazing dessert. I’ve also used this in a White Russian and it was pretty damn good.

15. Old Charter — French Oak

Sazerac Company

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $499 ($69)

The Whiskey:

This is their 12-year-old bourbon that’s been finished for a spell in French oak. The whiskey is then married and dialed in to really highlight the subtlety of that hardwood from France in every sip.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mix of dried roses, marzipan, and pears on the nose that leads towards a sour cherry counterpoint with a nod towards vanilla-heavy cream soda. The palate holds onto that creamy vanilla while the oak softens towards a wet log floating in a high alpine lake surrounded by fields of wildflowers. A sweet maple sap arrives late as the wood edges towards wet cedar and a hint of cherry tobacco on the short-ish finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a weird one. I feel like it’s made for a different group of whiskey drinkers that I’ve never hung out with. That floral note is very heightened, which puts me off. There’s also a real sense of “what am I paying for, again?” with this bottle. It’s not bad. It has its place in the bourbon pantheon. It’s just not my jam at this inflated price point.

14. Buffalo Trace

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

This is the whiskey that heralded a new era of bourbon in 1999. Famed Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee came out of retirement to create this bourbon to celebrate the renaming of the George T. Stagg distillery to Buffalo Trace when Sazerac bought the joint. The rest, as they say, is history — especially since this has become a touchstone bourbon for the brand.

Tasting Notes:

Classic notes of vanilla come through next to a dark syrup sweetness, a flourish of fresh mint, and a raw leather that veers towards raw steak. The palate cuts through the sweeter notes with plenty of spices — like clove and star anise — next to a hint of tart berries underneath it all. The end is long, velvety, and really delivers on the vanilla and spice.

Bottom Line:

Yes, this is a fine mid-range bourbon. But let’s not pretend it’s anything more than that. This is a mixer at its core and a perfectly suitable on the rocks pour in a pinch.

13. Wheatley Vodka

Sazerac Company

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $19

The Vodka:

This is Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley’s pet project of sorts. The juice is made on a special micro-still at Buffalo Trace with wheat at the core of the mash bill. The spirit goes through the still ten times before it’s triple filtered, cut down with soft limestone water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in with this essence of vanilla that’s kind of like rainwater that’s been soaking vanilla husks overnight. The taste has a very mild greenness (think cut grass and bell peppers) that leads back to a soft rainwater mouthfeel and no rough edges whatsoever. The end has this almost creamy vanilla vibe that’s very enticing.

Bottom Line:

I always forget Buffalo Trace makes vodka and I’m always pleasantly surprised by this bottle. Still, there’s nothing that stands out quite enough to keep this expression burned into my vodka memories. It is a hell of a good cocktail base though.

12. Sazerac Rye — Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 2020 Antique Collection

Sazerac Company

ABV: 64.5%

Average Price: $799 (MSRP: $99)

The Whiskey:

This is the youngest release from last year’s Antique Collection. The juice only spends six years and two months in the barrel. Those barrels live in three warehouses on three different floors. The final blend is unfiltered and bottled at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

This is floral from the top, with stone fruit and cherry lightness. A velvet nature greets you on the sip as classic rye spices — cinnamon, anise — warm your senses with a slight honey sweetness lurking in the background. The end is brief and full of those floral touches with peppery rye and a final flourish of pine resin.

Bottom Line:

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Sazerac Rye. If I’m not in the mood for rye, these expressions always fall flat on my palate. Then, if I’m hankering for non-MGP rye with a more nuanced mash bill than 95 percent rye, these tend to be what I reach for. That being said, of all my bottles from Buffalo Trace, these are the dustiest and fullest.

11. George T. Stagg — Stagg, Jr.

Sazerac Company

ABV: 63.2% (varies)

Average Price: $99 (MSRP: $50)

The Whiskey:

This barrel-proof expression from Buffalo Trace is one of the company’s most-beloved bottles. The juice spends around ten years maturing and is made from the same (very low rye) mash bill as their entry-point bottle, Buffalo Trace Bourbon. The whiskey then goes into the bottles from hand-selected barrels that hit just the right mark without any proofing or filtration.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of sweetness next to spice from the nose to the finish. There’s a sticky treacle syrup loaded with vanilla, walnuts, and pecans with a light dusting of Christmas spices leading towards a very ripe red cherry and a good dose of old oak. The finish is very long and hints at spicy cherry tobacco, oak, and more of those nuts, vanilla, and syrup.

Bottom Line:

Stagg tends to be great whiskey. In fact, it’s hard to not just say flat out that all the whiskeys from here on out are “great whiskeys,” because they are. This has some wonderful nuance to it once you get past the heavy heat on the palate. Whereas other big whiskeys from Buffalo Trace with similar ABVs don’t need any cooling down, this really benefits from a little water or ice to make it more accessible.

10. Kosher — Wheat Recipe

Sazerac Company

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $80

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace Kosher provides a truly kosher spirit that also fully delivers on the palate. The juice is made from the same wheated bourbon recipe as Buffalo Trace’s Weller and Pappy lines. The difference is that the mash is loaded from fully cleaned stills and pipes into kosher barrels (that means the barrels were specially made and purchased under the watchful eye of a rabbi from the Chicago Rabbinical Council).

The whiskey then ages for seven years at Buffalo Trace before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a familiar note of Red Hots and vanilla cream on the nose, with a hint of semi-dried florals. The palate mellows out the cinnamon towards a woody and dry bark as the florals deepen towards summer wildflowers right at the moment that a touch of plums and berries arrive, adding sweetness and brightness. The end holds onto that dry bark, as a hint of anise pops late with a slight vanilla cream tobacco touching off the medium-length fade.

Bottom Line:

This hits a lot of high marks for a wheated bourbon. There’s really not anything bad to say (again, the rest of these are truly all great). I prefer using this in cocktails but have enjoyed it as an on the rocks sipper too. It’s versatile and very tasty.

9. Experimental Collection — Release 23: 12 Year Bourbon Cut At 4 Years

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $250 (MSRP: $47)

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace’s Experimental Collection is where the distillery’s team really gets to go wild with their concoctions. This year’s release was a Baijiu Style aged spirit. Last year’s release was a fascinating 12-year-old bourbon. After only four years, the bourbon was taken out of the barrel and cut with limestone water to 50 percent ABV and then re-barreled for another eight years of maturation. That’s unique in that whiskey is always cut down to proof just before bottling and not mid-way through its maturation.

Tasting Notes:

That honey sweetness really shines through with a hint of wildflowers next to woody vanilla. The palate is pure vanilla cream pudding with subtle sparks of dark spices, floral honey syrup, warm cedar, and a dash of spicy tobacco. The end is long-ish and leaves you with that floral honey sweetness as it warms your senses.

Bottom Line:

This really could have been any expression from the Experimental Line. But they’re all so rare and fleeting, that picking just one was more about giving a broad example. If you can get your hands on one of these labels, don’t hesitate. It’ll be one of the most unique drinking experiences you’ll find.

8. O.F.C. Vintages — O.F.C. 1995

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $4,279 (MSRP: $2,500)

The Whiskey:

This label harkens back to Colonel E.H. Taylor’s O.F.C. Distillery in the 1800s. That distillery became what is now Buffalo Trace and the steam-heated warehouses used back then by Taylor are still in use today. These whiskeys are exceedingly rare releases. The juice in this bottle went into the barrel back in 1995 and mellowed in an exact spot before it was proofed and bottled in a crystal decanter.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with ripe and sweet cherries soaked in rich brandy with hints of cedar and holiday spices lurking in the background. The taste is almost unbelievably soft with notes of dark chocolate tobacco leaves mingling with well-spiced sticky toffee pudding, a touch of black tea bitterness, and a drop of salted caramel. The end has a soft cedar vibe as the fade slowly offers up warm peppery spice with a cinnamon edge and a final note of an old leather tobacco pouch drifts on by.

Bottom Line:

This is an incredibly rare bottle. So finding one and affording one is going to be tough, pushing this one down the ranking considerably. Still, this is a 25-year-old bourbon that’s one hell of a sipper without a touch of water or rock necessary.

7. Single Oak Project — Barrel #192

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $69 (half-bottle)

The Whiskey:

This was a fascinating set of whiskeys. The project started with finding the perfect barrel to age the perfect whiskey. That meant forest stewardship and sourcing specific oak from the Ozarks to build 192 unique barrels with varying levels of toasting and charring or some combination of the two. The whiskeys were then aged for various times and all eventually released and tasted by 5,645 people (and their lucky friends).

Turns out Barrel #80 was the prime spot. That’s what’s being replicated for a 2025 release.

Tasting Notes:

I didn’t get to taste barrel #80. I did get to taste the last release, Barrel #192, which is a very different whiskey than the one picked as the best. It was a wheated bourbon instead of a high-rye one, though the barrel had the same char level and was stored in the same location. Still, there were classic Buffalo Trace notes of caramel, cherry, vanilla, and distinct soft woods. The overall taste was a balancing act between the fruit and sweeter notes with the mild spices and rich tobacco with a vanilla backbone.

Bottom Line:

It’s really hard to say which of these are floating around on the secondary market. 192 single barrels does mean a lot of whiskeys went into the world, so you might get lucky. Otherwise, you’re going to have to hold tight until 2025 when this is released to a wider audience.

6. Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $109 (MSRP: $40)

The Whiskey:

Elmer T. Lee is another hugely popular release that’s very limited (and sought after). Where this differs from the other single barrels on this list is in the mash bill (this is a bit higher rye) and the placing of the barrel in the warehouse. It’s said that the barrels for Elmer T. Lee are stored where the master distiller himself used to store the barrels he kept for his own stash.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this is like a decadent breakfast of pancakes smothered in cinnamon butter, dripping with the best maple syrup, and topped with a hand-made scoop of vanilla ice cream. The palate holds onto the vanilla and spice but settles into more a floral honeyed sweetness with touches of cedar, old library book leather, and a hint of tobacco buzz. The end lingers for a while and leaves you with a dry pear tobacco warmth next to a cinnamon heat and maple bar sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This definitely edges higher on this list for being fairly affordable still (depending on how far away from Kentucky you live). It also helps that’s is very dialed in and delicious. For how good this is, it’s amazing there’s still a better single barrel from Buffalo Trace to get to.

5. Van Winkle — Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $2,299 (MSRP: $199)

The Whiskey:

This is the Pappy that made “Pappy” what it is today. The wheated bourbon rests for 20 long years without any meddling. And since everything moved to Buffalo Trace in 2002, we know that we’re on the last few releases with any Stitzel-Weller juice in the mix.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a subtlety to the nose that draws you closer with wisps of soft cedar, Christmas cakes filled with dried and candied fruit, nuts, and dark sweetness and spice. Plus a sense of oiled leather saddles and rich pipe tobacco. A little water brings back an echo of that apple pie filling alongside oily espresso beans and vanilla pods. The finish is a very slow fade that relishes in the bitter, sweet, velvet, spice, oak, leather, and ends on a note of smoke from the tobacco pipe.

Bottom Line:

Full disclosure, this would be number one if you could actually get it for a fair price. That retail price is just too much of a burden on this fine whiskey’s back. If you can afford that mark-up and you do find one of these bottles, good on you. You’re going to be in for a hell of a treat.

4. Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. — E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof

Sazerac Company

ABV: 65.15% (varies)

Average Price: $129 (MSRP: $75)

The Whiskey:

This much-lauded and beloved bottle from Buffalo Trace is classic whiskey making. The spirit is from Buffalo Trace’s low-rye mash bill. The juice is then aged in warehouses built by the Colonel over 100 years ago. The best barrels are selected yearly for batching and bottling with no fussing whatsoever.

Tasting Notes:

The sip draws you in with a spicy berry jam next to a perfumed note (kind of like wet potpourri) and buttery toffee sweetness. The taste, on the other hand, leans into vanilla oils, dry cedar, and a dusting of white pepper that winds back to the spice without the jam. The end is kind of long and really smoothes out, thanks to the vanilla and toffee, as the peppery spice builds towards a tobacco-filled cedar box and a very distant hint of fresh mint.

Bottom Line:

This has a little bit of a mark-up, sure. But, goddamn this is a good whiskey. It’s certainly worth hunting down at that random old liquor store full of dusties and buying all the bottles they have in stock.

3. Eagle Rare — Eagle Rare 10

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $44

The Whiskey:

This might be one of the most beloved (and still accessible) bottles from Buffalo Trace. This juice is made from their very low rye mash bill. The whiskey is then matured for at least ten years in various parts of the warehouse. The final mix comes down to barrels that hit just the right notes to make them “Eagle Rare.” Finally, this one is proofed down to a fairly low 90 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lot happening on the nose here, with worn leather mingling with dried orange, fresh sage, butter toffee, and cellared oak. The taste turns towards marzipan covered in dark chocolate with a touch of honey and a sprinkling of dark spices. The finish isn’t too long and touches back on that marzipan, toffee, and oak — while ending short and sweet.

Bottom Line:

This was another candidate for number one. It’s just so drinkable while also being gettable. You can generally afford this whiskey and you can find it. It’s perfect on the rocks. It’s great in a cocktail. Moreover, it’s more accessible than the 17-year-old, which needs a little water to cool it down.

This whiskey is just a winner all around.

2. Blanton’s — Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel

Sazerac Company

ABV: 64.5% (varies)

Average Price: $399 (MSRP: $110)

The Whiskey:

Blanton’s is “The Original Single Barrel” bourbon, and this expression is the purest form of that whiskey. The juice in this case is from the barrels that need no cutting with water and are perfect as-is from the barrel. All the barrels will come from Warehouse H (where Elmer T. Lee stored his private stash of barrels back in the day) and arrive with varying proofs.

The through-line is the excellent taste of that single, unadulterated barrel in each sip.

Tasting Notes:

The taste will vary slightly but expect a nose full of very bespoke dark chocolate-covered salted hard caramel toffees encrusted with almonds and pecans — the kind you get from a chocolate shop that imports their goodies from somewhere like Belgium. The nutty toffee carries through into the taste as oily vanilla pods mingle with cedar boxes of dried tobacco leaves and a touch of floral honey. The end is very long and sticks in your senses, with a hot buzzing that subtly fades through all that sweetness.

Bottom Line:

I cracked open a bottle of this recently and it might be one of the best barrel-strength whiskeys in general. This is just beautiful and could easily be number one depending on my mood. In fact, you could just say that this is tied for first place.

1. W.L. Weller — William Larue Weller 2020 Antique Collection

Sazerac Company

ABV: 67.25% (varies)

Average Price: $800 (MSRP: $99)

The Whiskey:

This wheated whiskey from 2008 eschews the more common rye and adds in North Dakota wheat. The juice is then barreled and stored in two warehouses where 73 percent of the whiskey is lost to the angels. Finally, the whiskey is bottled untouched and unfiltered.

Tasting Notes:

There’s soft bourbon vanilla that leads towards almond-encrusted toffees inside a pine box with a dark chocolate bonbon hidden somewhere inside all that nutty toffee. The sip leans into a cherry and dark chocolate bespeckled ice cream with a solid vanilla bean base and a dusting of crushed-up walnuts and maybe even peanut. The end is slightly dry and leans more towards cedar and straw with spicy cherry tobacco buzz.

Bottom Line:

It’s shocking that this has a higher ABV than absinthe. This dram is so well-rounded, soft, and enjoyable that’s kind of dangerous. This is perfect bourbon — it’s hard to find a single thing to fault. Yes, it’s expensive and hard to find. But this is the only bottle (on this list) that I truly believe is worth a mega-inflated price tag.


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