Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is a barrel proof rye and part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Regarded as a benchmark of barrel proof American rye, it is always a barely legal (51%) rye and six years old.
This is one of our favorite rye whiskeys each year. The Thomas H. Handy 2018 release was bottled at 128.8 proof, which is a slight increase from the last two years. The 2016 Thomas H. Handy was 126.2 proof. The 2017 Thomas H. Handy was 127.2 proof.
For the 2016 and 2017 releases, there was a noticeable switch between the taste. The 2016 release tasted just as much like bourbon as it did rye. The 2017 release was a much more distinctly rye whiskey.
So, how about the 2018 release?
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey 2018 (128.8 proof, 6 years old)
Nose: Buttery spice with strong nutmeg, a sprinkling of dill on salted caramel, clove, some toasted oak, and fresh cotton. (4/5)
Palate: A great burst of rye spice and salted caramel, with orange citrus, some salt and pepper mix on the mid-palate, and milk chocolate. (4/5)
Finish: The salt and pepper mix continues, creating a slightly drier finish, mixed with lingering baking spice, ground cinnamon, and clove. (4/5)
Overall: This bottle certainly falls on the rye end of the spectrum, with loads of spices throughout. However, the depth and balance does not quite match up with the 2017 release. This was good, but made me want to reach back for the 2017 bottle again. (4/5)
Value: Thomas H. Handy remains one of the more attainable members of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. However, it is still costly, around $120 locally. With the recent addition of other quality barrel proof rye whiskeys in the market, this is starting to see some competition. (4/5)
Stephen is a regular writer at FlightClubICT.com