Whiskey Review: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

, | November 17, 2020

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Buffalo Trace. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The pandemic has put 2020 on hold for so many things, but one thing we can count on is the Antique Collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Thankfully, whiskey lovers can rejoice and celebrate the 20th anniversary of this spectacular collection. It includes the George T. Stagg, the William Larue Weller, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, the Sazerac 18 Year Old, and the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old. 

Over the years, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) has gained notoriety. While the retail price for the collection is $99 per bottle, the secondary market has continued to push the price threshold. Collector’s usually scoop up the bottles making them impossible to find, but sometimes you can find a bottle sitting on a bar shelf asking to be tasted.

The Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye in the BTAC honors the New Orleans bartender who first used rye in his Sazerac cocktail. In fact, the Antique Thomas H. Handy is one of two ryes in the BTAC. This one, however, I ranked as my number one spot out of the entire collection. While I wouldn’t use a full pour of the Antique Thomas H. Handy, or the Antique Sazerac 18 Year Old for a Sazerac cocktail, a float of either would give it a nice boost. 

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Some other details on this whiskey to know, according to official information from Buffalo Trace, include:

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Last year’s release earned The Chairman’s Trophy, scoring 99 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and was also named 3rd finest whiskey in the world in “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.”  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2014; aged in warehouses K, M, and N, and weighs in at 129.0 proof.  The flavor profile includes cinnamon, anise and honey.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

Tasting Notes: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2020 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

Vital Stats: 64.5% ABV, 129 proof. Distilled in winter 2008. Aged 6 years and 2 months in #4 charred new American oak from  warehouses N, M, and K. The sour mash bill consists of Minnesota Rye, Kentucky Corn, and North Dakota malted barley. 750ml $99. 

Appearance: Tawny/dark amber

Nose: To begin with, sweet French vanilla and custard mingle with bruleed sugar. The whiskey is quite fruity with pear. Near the end, there is a faint touch of star anise. 

Palate: The star anise from the nose is much more present on the palate. As the anise mixes with cinnamon and cocoa, it reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate. On the other hand, there is a touch of crème brulee. The mouthfeel is oily. In spite of the dessert-like qualities, the finish is quite earthy.  

The Takeaway


The 2020 Antique Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye stood out the most out of the entire collection. Tasting like Mexican hot chocolate, it is just the perfect whiskey to finish off a night. It did remind me of brandy, or even cognac, and nothing would stop me from sipping it out of a snifter. If you get the chance to taste all of the BTAC, you will see how just how different it is.

User Review
3.18 (78 votes)


Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...