Hope everyone out there enjoyed ‘National Bourbon Day’ yesterday. I’m back to review my second rye and second E.H. Taylor brand whiskey. This time around will be looking at the straight rye Buffalo Trace(BT) has made specifically for this product. While BT’s other ryes; the Sazerac, Sazerac 18 and Thomas H. Handy all use the same rye mash bill the folks at BT tried their hand at a high rye/no corn mash bill for this particular brand. I guess seeing the success of MGPI/LDI’s popular 95% rye the BT team saw an opportunity to do something different with their rye recipe.
I for one commend them for changing up the recipe, even if their standard ryes are quite excellent, it gives us as consumers something actually different to choose from. Instead of the countless number of brands just using the same juice. So let’s see how this rye holds up?
Appearance: Deep amber with slow-moving legs
Nose: Right away I’m picking up lots of vanilla and black pepper. I’m also getting some maple syrup notes along with clove, cinnamon and tamarind. For a 100 proof high rye mash bill whiskey I find this bouquet to be very soft. No harsh alcohol fumes and the toasted oak and barrel aromas are kept in check by notes of chocolate, grapefruit and licorice. A few drops of water really help open this up as well. As it keeps unraveling I’m getting aromas of light leather, slight chili powder and some burnt brown sugars. Once again I’m taken back by a Buffalo Trace bouquet
Palate: This really packs a punch. Right away a rush of peppery spices and chili powder accompanied by a flow of rye and cinnamon that just coats the tongue but intertwined is layers of vanilla, cocoa, and Demerara sugars. Towards the back a slight bitter orange rind flavor begins to appear as well as that citrusy grapefruit note. The finish is moderate to long leaving behind notes of cinnamon, leather, caramel, chocolate and some light oak. The mouthfeel unfortunately is rather thin and while water helps tame the spicier notes and bring out the sweeter vanilla and fruitier flavors, proceed with caution otherwise this guy will thin himself out too much.
Overall: This rye reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s famous line of “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The bouquet is very enticing and somewhat soft and inviting but when you go to sip there is where you are hit with a spicy punch and what impressed me is the overall complexity I was able to get out of this. It just kept showing me layers and layers of flavors and aromas which can be attributed to the quality of barrels being used to age this whiskey. Also, I have to say while being very prickly and spicy on the palate there was still excellent balance being kept as other flavors were given a chance to strut their stuff. My only knock would be the mouthfeel but I just think it’s the nature of the beast, I have yet to come a cross a high rye/no corn whiskey with a full-bodied mouthfeel. Again water really helps bring out all this whiskey has to offer but not too much.
Rating: 92 / * * * *S