The mad doctors at Buffalo Trace don’t just mess with whiskey. They also experiment with tequila, taking white spirit from Corazon Tequila and aging it in special whiskey barrels that previously held some of Buffalo Trace’s rarest and most expensive spirits. (Check out reviews from 2016, 2015, and 2013 to get a historical perspective.)
2018 sees Buffalo Trace bringing four of these special tequilas to the market, three of which are anejo bottlings. We’re reviewing two of the biggest releases here today. Missing are the blanco that typically appears as part of this collection, plus the third anejo expression, which is aged in George T. Stagg barrels.
Thoughts on this dynamic duo follow.
Expresiones del Corazon Sazerac Rye Anejo – Aged for 24 months in Sazerac Rye whiskey barrels. This is gorgeous stuff, an obvious standout from the start. The nose is quite peppery and also salty, almost maritime with notes of fish fry and a squeeze of lemon juice. Lightly smoky, it finds some sweetness in the form of touches of vanilla. The palate builds in more pepper, lemon peel, and some peppermint notes, all against a backdrop of sharp agave notes. This in turn is tempered by baking spice and ample sweetness: vanilla, caramel, and creamy tres leches cake. The finish is lightly sweet but also hot with a touch of red pepper. Great anejo tequila combines a spicy agave core with sweetness driven by barrel aging. This combination, with a rye barrel instead of the usual bourbon, works even better — it’s fantastic from start to finish. Reviewed: Barrel #12936. 90 proof. A / $80 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Expresiones del Corazon Buffalo Trace Old 22 Anejo – Old 22 is a bit kitschy by design: This tequila spends 22 months in barrels which formerly held whiskey that was at least 22 years old. Old 22, get it? Compared to the Sazerac Rye bottling reviewed above, this expression is restrained, showing more agave and a straightforward herbal note on the nose. Lots of pepper and roasted meats hit on the palate, but it settles down to find a sweet vein running through it over time, with a slight berry character. Eventually, though, this all gets weighted down by some raw, tannic woodiness, which mars the experience a bit. The finish shines with more chocolate and vanilla notes, most of the sweetness back-loaded into a conclusion that echoes a more typical anejo tequila. Not a bad stab, but tough to love when tasted side by side against one of the best anejos I’ve encountered in years. Reviewed: Barrel #12856. 80 proof. B+ / $82