Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Sazerac UK Ltd T/A Last Drop Distillers
Distillery: Buffalo Trace (Known as the George T. Stagg Distillery at the time of distillation)
Release Date: November 2020
Age: 20 Years (Stored in steel tanks for an additional 20 years before bottling)
Color: Medium Copper
MSRP: $4,600 (2020)
Leather | Aged oak | Earthy | Raisin | Dark fruit | Dark cherry | Tobacco | Complex & inviting with distinct evidence of its age
Toffee | Coconut | Leather | Tobacco leaf | Plum | Dark cherry | Graham cracker | Seasoned oak | Spice develops | Viscous mouthfeel with a complex delivery of flavors that’s rivaled by very few
Dark Cherry | Cigar box | Aged oak | Dark chocolate | Spice tapers | Dark cherry note lingers | Caps off an incredible sip
Founded by James Espey and Tom Jago, Last Drop Distillers seeks to find and bring to life the rarest of the rare whiskeys, offering them in extremely limited quantities and mind-numbing prices. However, unlike many limited releases that dominate our Release Calendar, Last Drop Distillers is limited in the truest sense - the whiskeys they offer cannot simply be reproduced. Generally relics of a time past and often boasting a high age, they are not easily replicated.
Release XIX is a bourbon distilled by Gary Gayheart, former master distiller at George T. Stagg Distillery (now known as Buffalo Trace) and master to his then apprentice, Harlan Wheatley, now master distiller at Buffalo Trace. A $4,600 MSRP bourbon that is limited to only 240 bottles and will surely sell for much more, I fear too much of this release will be resolved to the shelves of collectors and bottles will remain sealed. Thankfully, a 50mL sample is included with each full bottle, so hopefully that encourages buyers to at least give it a taste.
To my surprise (and to my disdain because I probably won’t ever experience another pour of this!) it is, unequivocally, insanely good. An explosion of complex flavors in near perfect balance that somehow captures the magic of a whiskey in its prime, and doing so at a proofpoint that allows every one of the subtleties to show through. As a frame of reference, consider the now retired tanked versions of Sazerac 18 Year and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. Two of my all-time favorites. Now, take the characteristics of those whiskeys, ryes that were frozen in time at their absolute best, keep that magic and simply apply a layer of bourbon flavor characteristics to them. That’s Last Drop Distillers XIX Bourbon.