Whiskey Review: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

, | December 18, 2021

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.

Buffalo Trace fans, I have some sad news if you have not heard already. Although the 2021 Antique Collection (BTAC) has been released, you will not be able to find the George T. Stagg to complete the series this year. Buffalo Trace had this to say: “This year, the lineup is missing George T. Stagg, the uncut, unfiltered 15-year-old whiskey.  George T. Stagg will not be part of the release because the 15-year-old barrels do not meet the Distillery’s taste standards for the Stagg brand.”

At least we are assured the William Larue Weller, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, the Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old, and the Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye meet Buffalo Trace’s high-quality standards. The Thomas H. Handy is one of two ryes in the BTAC. It comes in at cask strength of 129.5 proof compared to the Sazerac 18-Year-Old at 90 proof. If you were not lucky enough to get a bottle at its MSRP of $99, hopefully, you will be able to snag a taste of it.

The Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye in the BTAC honors the New Orleans bartender who first used rye in his Sazerac cocktail. Thomas H. Handy, once the sole importer of Cognac for Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac, had to switch to using rye in cocktails because of a series of unfortunate events. Phylloxera decimated the wine industry, and this led to the downfall and closure of the Sazerac de Forge in France. Luckily, people preferred the use of American rye in cocktails.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye 2021 review

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye 2021 (image via Buffalo Trace)

Tasting Notes: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (2021 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection)

Vital Stats: 64.75% ABV, 129.5 proof. Distilled in Spring 2015. Aged six years and four months in #4 charred new American oak from warehouses I, L, O, and K. The sour mash bill consists of Minnesota rye, Kentucky corn, and North Dakota malted barley. 750ml $99.

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Appearance: Deep amber

Nose: At first, I pick up on cedar and mint. There’s a strange aroma I can’t quite define except that it is reminiscent of saltine crackers. The whiskey has a butterscotch sweetness to it, while the typical rye spices are subdued. Cold cinnamon rolls are the best I can compare it to overall.

Palate: For cask strength, the whiskey doesn’t drink hot, but it does have an oily mouthfeel. Cinnamon latches onto the tastebuds and sticks around for a while. Dried fruit provides sweetness in the middle. Overall, it’s more earthen with roasted almonds and a touch of leather. The whiskey has a dry finish that is slightly tannic with cedar.

The Takeaway
4.5

Summary

The Thomas H. Handy in the 2021 BTAC is my second favorite this year. It makes a strong showing with great spice and dried fruit. It feels balanced at cask strength and provides the perfect afterglow.

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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...