In my last review I took a look at Buffalo Trace’s latest rye the E.H Taylor. Which contained a high rye/no corn mash bill. I thought I’d follow that review up by looking at the Sazerac 18 year old rye that is put out every fall as part of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection (BTAC). The whiskies in the Antique Collection are as some of the best highly sought after American whiskeys on the market, behind of course that brand with an older gentleman smoking a cigar on the label. They include three bourbons (George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller and Eagle Rare 17) and two ryes (Sazerac 18 and Thomas H. Handy). While the Handy and Saz 18 start out using the same mash bill, the two couldn’t be any different. The Sazerac is a refined 18 year old whiskey bottled at 90 proof while the Handy is a younger (6-10 year old?) hard hitting whiskey bottled at barrel proof.
Each whiskey in collection is named from different connections to the distillery. The Sazerac gets it’s name from the parent company who own Buffalo Trace, which in turn got it’s name from the Sazerac Coffee House, a New Orleans saloon in the mid 1800s. Side note there is also a standard Sazerac rye in select markets. Now on to the review.
Appearance: Medium amber with slow moving legs.
Nose: Baked apples, banana, caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg. If those aromas right there aren’t enough to entice your palate I don’t know what will. Some hints of mint and licorice floating around as well as the rye notes, caramelized cherries and sweet vanilla. As the bouquet continues to open orange rind, leather, tamarind jelly and toasted oak begin to emerge. Maple syrup, peppery spices and roasted coffee beans start to sprout up as well. Really take your time with this one and let the bouquet fully open and show you it’s depth and complexity.
Palate: Lush vanilla and Demerara sugars ignite the front of the palate which is followed by those oh so familiar rye flavors. As it unfolds cocoa, caramel, crisp apple and maple syrup appear. Lots of anise roaming around, especially towards the back of the palate. I’m also picking up on some cinnamon, black peppercorn, blood orange, toasted oak and an herbal-like bay leaf flavor. The finish is rather long leaving notes of chocolate, anise, licorice and some oak. The mouthfeel is smooth with a medium body.
Overall: While I found the E.H. Taylor rye exceptionally well made this one is still a notch or two better overall. The bouquet is bursting with beautiful aromas and entices you in while the palate more than satisfies. I’ve always said sometimes the bouquets of BT whiskies outshine the palate but this is one of those whiskies where the bouquet and the palate are both putting on excellent performances. Rich, complex and well balanced, just a masterful whiskey.
Rating: 94 / * * * *S