The 2019 World Whisky of the Year, as dictated by whisky writer Jim Murray, has officially been crowned, and it’s the impossible-to-buy William Larue Weller Bourbon from the 2017 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
Yes, you read that right: 2017. Because Jim Murray dates his list for the upcoming year rather than the year it’s produced, and because Buffalo Trace labels its Antique Collection based on the year it’s released, the Whisky of the Year for 2019 is actually the 2017 release of William Larue Weller, featured in our best bourbons of the fall list last year. That’s different from the 2018 version, which we picked as our favorite from the collection last week.
That bottle has long since disappeared from shelves, so if you’re lucky enough to have one in your possession, congratulations, because it probably just doubled in value. But there’s a bigger story here, which is that if the Whisky Bible and the awards it bestows are the World Series, Buffalo Trace and its various brands should now officially qualify as a dynasty this year.
That’s because Jim Murray seems to absolutely love their whiskey, particularly the Antique Collection; with Weller’s addition to the group, four of the five members have carried a Whisky of the Year title in the last 15 years. Thomas H. Handy Sazerac won in 2013; Sazerac 18 won in 2010; George T. Stagg won an incredible three times, in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
Buffalo Trace and parent company Sazerac have had an impressive run this year generally: the third runner-up for the 2017 Thomas H. Handy Sazerac release, Blanton’s Gold Single Barrel was named Single Cask of the Year, and recently acquired Last Drop Distillers garnered the title of Scotch Single Cask of the Year for its Glenrothes release.
Oh, and all of this is in addition to the fact that Buffalo Trace also won World Whisky of the Year last year, with Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain.
Murray seems to love picking bottles that aren’t going to be easy for people to taste after the award is given. He did the same thing with the 2017 World Whisky of the Year, Booker’s Rye.
That makes three years in a row for American whiskey to win the distinction, if you’re keeping track. And if we widen that to North American whiskey, it becomes a four-year stretch thanks to Crown Royal.
If you want to try this bourbon, we honestly don’t have any good news for you. Last year’s releases have long disappeared off of shelves, and this year’s releases are likely all but gone themselves. Weller in general is hard to find outside of a few specific markets that seem to be saturated. Hey, there’s always next year.