top of page

2019 Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye Review

I'm still feeling rye today! It's another really cold day out here. The lake is starting to make those Star Wars laser-firing noises that happen when ice rapidly changes volume with large temperature swings. Hopefully there will be some skating and ice fishing in our future at the Amongst house soon if this cold keeps up! These temps always push me towards higher proofs and zesty flavors profiles. I previously remember this pour being intensely clove forward the first time I tasted it and I was a bit disappointed given the moment I was attempting to celebrate this bottle with.

I first opened this bottle as a celebration of the purchase and closing on the home that @AmongstTheFernsCo and I now live in together. It's been shared a few times with different folks who have come over to warm a rocker on my porch or enjoy dinner and a well-stocked bar. Today, I'm diving in solo to see how this pour makes me feel. I've got a venison stew on low and slow down stairs and have been knocking off tasks on the to-do list all day. This review will make a nice respite if nothing else. Let's get into it!


Company on Label: Buffalo Trace

Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed (Buffalo Trace 'Low Rye', likely 51% rye)

Proof: 125.7°

Age: 6 years

Further identification: This is from the 2019 release of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection that was distilled in the spring of 2013 and matured in Warehouses K, M, and N


Nose: Savory malt, old leather baseball mitt and an ancient dusty paper note greet my nose on first pass. Pungent tobacco and a slight iron metallic note waft slowly out of the glass. The aromas feel like they are moving in slow motion as I pull them out of the bulb of my glencairn. This has an incredibly dry nose-feel which carries dusty oak, vanilla bean, woodstove ash, and allspice. A swirl brings out black cherry skins that are devoid of sweetness. This reminds me of a stuffy, old library in a way... It's that whirlwind of decaying tomes that gives off a slight bright citrus smell alongside a treasure-trove of musty paper and grass. While some may find these aromas nostalgic and fun, I think most will find them too funky for regular consumption. At times there are some sweeter notes that jump out... Fragrant vanilla and bergamot give off an Earl Grey tea profile. Time for a sip! After a sip, the mustiness of the pour has taken on a bit of a new tone; it's more lively now and laced with caramel and black pepper. Later on there is a savory brown sugar and molasses glaze. The end of the glass is probably my favorite concoction of aromas; we've come full circle on the leather and mint while everything is just generally softer. The empty glass smells of raisin, heavily charred oak, vanilla custard, and cherry Garcia ice cream.

Palate: Lemon peel at the start followed by a big wave of clove I was expecting. Woah, there's a lovely wintergreen mint too. It reminds me of the first time ever finding wild wintergreen in Carver, MA on a Scout hiking trip when I was a much younger version of myself. Cherry sweetness finally finds its way into this experience now which I'm glad to greet. There's a cooling tingle in my gums from the mint flavors that are more of a background feeling than a flavor here. Another sip builds in strong vanilla and black tea. Allspice, anise, pepper, and clove continue to dance across my tongue in spicy prickles. A little headspace for air in this bottle has done very well to tame the clove note and allow other notes to shine during this tasting. There's a perfumed floral characteristic that flashes across my palate briefly, causing a raised eyebrow. Jumping right back in for another sip shows off a sweet molasses, milk chocolate hidden behind grass, and orange crush pound cake - illustrating why patience with a pour like this is often rewarded. Most sips you do have to still fight through a bit of clove upfront before you can find these extra nuances. The vanilla and cherry characteristics develop incredibly well late in the glass as I near my last two sips. This mouth-feel experience is like a small, flaming ball that sits right in the middle of your tongue and doesn't move. Nothing else gets a coating, and the linger is mainly experienced in this one location too, central on my tongue. My last sip is rather uneventful. It's still a robust, spiced-up and an enjoyable sip. The finish is quite short with little flavor following the main event.


Rating: 3/5

Changes from my first and subsequent tastings to now illustrates perfectly why there are no singular answers to experiencing whiskey. You can capture a trend with enough experience of a pour, but there are no hard and fast rules for what you might get out of a glass. This one was incredibly memory provoking for me today which I love. The quality of the whiskey itself though, for me, doesn't quite shine on this pour. I have heard that the 2020 release is really good. I thought for the longest time that this bottle was the 2020 release, until I finally went to open it and saw the proof was not the batch I was expecting. Oh well, at least you know where to find a pour if you're ever in my neighborhood. Anyone got a 2020 or 2021 bottle to try? Cheers!



bottom of page