Thomas H. Handy Sazerac – Buffalo Trace Antique Collection
To me it’s always interesting to hear the backstory behind brands. This Thomas H. Handy Sazerac is no exception. Mr. Handy is apparently the first bartender that ever used Rye whiskey in his Sazerac cocktails. So what better way to honor the man, than to make a whiskey named after him. I hope I do something great enough to have a whiskey named after me someday. I think that should be the American dream. This rye is uncut and unfiltered just like the George T. Stagg & William Larue Weller. Just last year it was named “World’s Best Rye Whiskey”.
This year’s Thomas H. Handy Sazerac comes out at 129 proof. It’s only 6 years old though, barreled back in 2008. It hasn’t been sitting nearly as long as the others from the BTAC. I’m curious as to why this didn’t sit as long. I’m not sure if Ryes don’t age as well as bourbons, or if twas simply it’s time to be bottled. The world may never know!
In terms of the bottle, the shape is identical to the rest of the BTAC. This particular expression has a burnt orange protective sleeve on it. The screen printing on the front shows a house, or my guess a saloon where Mr. Handy worked and perfected his Sazerac recipe. I’m a big fan of the big bold letters that spell out the name of the whiskey on the front as well. Very nostalgic look to the bottle. I can nearly hear the saloon girls yelling around the bottle. Ok, maybe that’s on TV or I’ve got something wrong with my hearing. Not sure which one it is. This is one of those times that I wish I had a full bottle so that I could read the entire story on the back. I’m sure there is some interesting history back there, but I’m not going to complain about this sample bottle. I’m just hungry for knowledge!
Well I think it’s time to dive into the bottle and see what we’ve got going on. I know I’m excited.
I almost wish that I had tasted this blind and not known that it was a rye whiskey. I feel like, when I know it’s a rye I tend to look for traditional rye flavors. To me this Thomas H. Handy Sazerac came out with a lot of traditional bourbon flavors so it kind of threw me for a loop. I picked up Vanilla, Oak, and a very potent butterscotch note. The butterscotch really kicked up in intensity after I dropped some water into the mix and swirled it.
That first sip of the rye hit me with some intense tobacco notes. It felt like I had just light up a pipe. It was a rush of tobacco and wet leather. There were some spice along the way. Maybe some notes of clove. It finished with that butterscotch note that I picked on the nose. Dominate tobacco and leather though. I would love to pair this with a nice maduro cigar and see how they combat or share flavors. It’d be very interesting for sure.
So far out of the first 3 from the BTAC this has the best finish. Initially it comes out hot and spicy, that rye came to work today. Then it opened up and finished with that sweetness that you expect in a good bourbon, not necessarily a rye… The mouthfeel is decent, it has a good coating, nice viscosity to it as well. Again, the best finish out of the first 3 so far.
Although I liked the finish on this Thomas H. Handy Sazerac I’m going to place it as my #3 in the BTAC list. It was great at the end, but the nose and palate didn’t seem to combine to create anything amazing to me. They were average. There were moments of greatness, but it didn’t complete the package for me. Again, I would buy this on the shelf if I saw it. Mainly for the packaging. I like the front label on this bottle almost as much as I like the Stagg. However, it’s a hard push to convince myself to spend $80 on a bottle of juice that I didn’t absolutely love.