Review #206 Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2019)
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Age: 6 Years, 2 Months
BACKGROUND: Now the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) needs no introduction but let's cover some bases. Every year, Buffalo Trace releases 5 extremely limited release whiskies as part of their antique collection. These whiskies include William Larue Weller (WLW), wheat based bourbon, George T. Stagg (GTS) rye based bourbon, Eagle Rare 17 Year (ER17) rye based bourbon, Sazerac 18 Year (SAZ18) rye whiskey, and Thomas H. Handy (THH) rye whiskey. These whiskeys are always highly sought after and for good reason. Each whiskey pays homage to a whiskey legend. 2000 was the first year of the BTAC and featured ER17, WLW19, SAZ18 and they were each bottled at 90 proof. Since then GTS & THH were added to the line and with the exception of SAZ18 and ER17 being bottled at 90 and 101 proof respectively, all are bottled are barrel proof. Thomas H. Handy was first brought to market in 2006 and is named after the famous New Orleans bartender who first used rye whiskey in the Sazerac Cocktail. THH is known for it's spice and heat attributable to the mash bill and proof and is usually aged right around 6 years.
NOSE: After letting this one sit for 10 minutes we brought the whiskey to our nose and pulled pronounced yet soft notes of roasted cinnamon, mint, rich caramel, and fresh baking spices. Although this is 125 proof the nose is as approachable as any 90 proof whiskey out there. There is a slight artificial scent that also threw us off at the tail-end but overall this was a very enjoyable sweet and spicy nose. (23/25)
PALATE: Where the traditional rye spice was hidden on the nose, really comes to life in the palate. Dark stone fruit notes like plum and black cherry balance the sharpness of the heavy rye spice notes with the support of woody oak and raw cacao notes. THH 2019 has a rich and chewy mouthfeel with tons of flavor. (38/40)
FINISH: Time may have gone on but the finish of THH 2019 stayed forever (not literally). Notes of pepper, orange, soft caramel, and rye spice went on and on forever with a very warm feeling in your chest on the way down. This is a fantastic rye whiskey finish. (24/25)
VALUE: The BTAC collection has an SRP of $99 but good luck finding any at that price. The market SRP (secondary) is around $500 - $600. We think this is a delicious whiskey and a great deal at $99 but would pay up to $300. (7/10)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Although Thomas H. Handy is often looked at as the little brother in the BTAC, we think the 2019 release was absolutely delicious and at par at the rest of the BTAC. Many other reviewers have knocked on the 2019 release but we were huge fans of this one. Unfortunately the secondary prices have continued to soar for BTAC but if you can get your hands on this one at less than $300 we recommend pulling the trigger. Especially if you are a rye whiskey fan.
Similar & Slightly Better Whiskey: Wild Turkey Master's Collection Cornerstone Rye
Similar & Equal Whiskey: Michter's Barrel Strength Rye (2021)
Similar & Slightly Worse Whiskey: Whistle Pig 12 Year
Tell us what you think and give us some feedback!
96-100: The perfect dram, juice of the gods
90-95: Near perfect, truly incredible whiskey
85-89: Amazing whiskey, will always try to keep a backup bottle of this
80-84: Very good, some minor flaws here or there
75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink, Will try and keep a bottle on the shelf
70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get this
60-69: Decent, would offer this up to non whiskey drinkers
50-59: Not my cup of tea
Below 50: Give away