The popularity of bourbon, rye and American whiskey in general has driven up prices massively. Especially on this side of the pond price tags are far less interesting than a couple of years ago.
This is partially done by exporters and importers and the like. It also doesn’t help that any limited edition of any American whiskey doesn’t really have to be exported at the moment. I think all American distilleries, especially the big ones, can easily sell all their product stateside.
The direct result of that is that I’m not trying as many of the awesome releases as I’d like. Barely ever do I see a Buffalo Trace Antique, a limited edition Four Roses and other rare bottles being available at an acceptable price, or even a sample that I think makes sense.
Big was my surprise when I found this one sitting in the back of my cupboard. A sample I had gotten from EL, who also organizes our club’s annual Blind Tasting Competition. It must have sat there for at least four years, maybe longer. Bad sample management by my, with a nice result now.
It takes a while before it opens up. I could have added water but I was being lazy, so I just waited a little bit. When it starts going you get heaps of rye. There’s a lot of that, but it’s not overly heavy. Quite light, even though almost two thirds of this is alcohol. Crisp and fresh rye, some pine and mint. Leafy herbs with a light hint of pepper. Almost no oak, but quite a lot of grains. Slightly meaty after a while.
The palate brings a lot of alcohol (imagine my surprise…) but it’s not ridiculously sharp. Chili pepper, rye, grainy and very spicy. Thyme, rosemary, mint, pine, quite crisp. A light, oaky sweetness and a small hint of bitterness later on.
The finish focuses on the rye again, with some thyme but in general it’s a bit less spicy. Sweeter with more oak.
This is a very, very impressive whiskey. The first time I tried a Thomas H. Handy I wasn’t too impressed compared to some of the other Antiques. Of course, each edition is slightly different and that makes for a shift in the individual rankings. This one, however, is awesome.
It packs a punch, sure, but it’s justified. The flavor that high ABV brings is simply insane. So much rye with so much spiciness. Not a big focus on the oak, I think that would have lessened this one a little bit. I wish I could afford stuff like this nowadays!
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, 64.5% (129 proof), new white oak barrel, 7 years old, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2009. Currently estimated at € 465…