Thanks to /u/Orehnmadgib for pouring me a sample of this dram.
It’s odd having a drinking buddy like /u/devoz. He’s going to joke around and be cool, and then you find out he’s the number one reviewer of BTAC on Reddit, even though he doesn’t live in Kentucky and totally doesn’t have the last name “Handy” or “Lee” that you’d expect.
Not that bourbon requires you to be some sort of Southern US royalty in order to be the top reviewer, it’s just if I said “This guy has reviewed a ton of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection releases”, you imagine the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy mixed with a thick glasses hipster from New York. Or at least you do now. Not some guy from Canada.
So when I had a chance to review Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye 2009, I thought I had one up on him. One of the ones he hadn’t had. Then I double checked and.. yeah, he’s reviewed it. Oh well.
Thomas H. Handy, as stated before, is part of the once a year, ultra rare whiskey and ryes brought out by Buffalo Trace. All of these form to make Voltron… Wait, no, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Though I’m pretty sure they can still take on King Zarkon. As stated before, there are multiple (two) ryes in the collection, and this is one of them.
But were they thinking about this back in 2009? Was the whiskey industry consistent? Do we have any reason to think otherwise? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: Trade your kids
Vintage: Spring 2002
Bottled: Fall 2009
Cask Type: #4 Charred New White American Oak Barrels
Colour: 2.5YR 5/10
Nose: Orange, violets/plum, fresh bread, light brown sugar
Ah, more of a floral and orange rye here. I like those. Or maybe I don’t? I like the floral part. My thoughts on orange are marred by people who mix it with chocolate. Which we’ll call degenerates at the moment.
That said, I do like my floral ryes, and that’s here. But don’t worry spice fans, you can still get something from this. There’s a fresh bread/almost rye note on the nose, and water brings it out even more.
Taste: Brown sugar, duck a l’orange, grass, cinnamon, oak
The brown sugar from the nose continues on the taste, and then there’s this meaty, orange taste. Reminds me of duck a l’orange, but if that’s outside your eating habits, think almost red meat flavour with some heavy orange overtones that won’t leave.
Adding water makes this much more wood forward.
You know, like me when I was a kid at birthday parties and my mother waited extra long because she thought I was having fun and totally not because she was enjoying a childfree house to herself.
Finish: Caramel, passionfruit, apple, cinnamon bread, oak, nutmeg, cloves
Nice finish. Caramel, tropical fruit, as well as some down-home desserts. Water brings out a lot of oak, like a Sahara dessert lumberjack.
That said, it also brings out this nice change in spice (not just cinnamon), so it’s a decent tradeoff.
Conclusion: Water brings out a lot of oak. That’s something to keep in mind when having this. The orange and floral aspects won’t be every rye fans favourite. It’s more orange on the taste without having to think about floral, and by the end, those elements are gone.
So a few things about this one: It is, of course, quite the rye. Very complex, and a lot of fun to drink. Downsides? The finish, while nice, doesn’t follow the nose or taste. The oak heavy aspect when water is added isn’t my favourite.
At the end of the day, I guess if you see this out there and want a really nice dram, then… yeah, it’s worth it. I liked it a bit more than the only other THH I’ve had (2011), mostly because it’s more of a typical rye.
Bourbon review #233, Kentucky review #150, Whiskey Network review #1546