Jun 24, 2013

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 2011...


Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey (2011 release) (64.3%): Another rare release from Buffalo Trace's "Antique Collection" which recently won the 2013 Whisky of the Year Award of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. The whiskey is named after Mr. Thomas H. Handy who owned The Sazerac Company back in 19th century in New Orleans and created the classic Sazerac cocktail by replacing French brandy with American rye whiskey in the recipe. The whiskey is bottled at 64.3%. Color: Dark amber with a pinkish gleam. Nose: In spite of its high abv. the nose delivers a lot even before we add water: Vanilla, sweet damp tobacco leaves, pencil shavings and old decomposing leather upholstery. Adding water starts the crazy parade of aromas. Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, golden raisins soaked in brandy and star anise. Actually this nose reminds me a young but very fine Armagnac. Burnt scrapings of a skillet apple pie and heavily toasted oak staves. It gets sweeter after allowing it air a little bit with coconut, spearmint and milk chocolate. Palate: First the alcohol burn numbs my mouth with charcoal dustiness but then water brings up cinnamon, dried unsweetened sour cherries and tart red berries notes. Over-brewed Russian blend black tea, caramelized brown sugar and burnt cranberry shortbread cookies. Truly amazing... Finish: Waiting for at least three minutes here but still can feel the tingling on my tongue: basically endless... Very dry with white pepper, heavily roasted pine nuts, thyme, eucalyptus leaves and charcoal ash. Overall: Wow, it will take some time to get back to my senses. It added literally a brand new layer both to the nose and the palate with every drop of water added throughout the tasting. What an astonishingly complex and multi-layered whiskey..! Airing helps as much as adding water to develop new notes on the nose and on the palate like a fine aged French brandy. It is definitely one of the best whiskies I have tasted this year. I don't know if you still can find a bottle anywhere but if you spot one on a shelf grab it right away...