Any whiskey lover who tries it will become a convert.
Notes: This release of the Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey released in the Fall of 2006 If you can find any I suggest you grab it now. Production was very limited- less than 1/3 the number of barrels than the George T.Stagg. Back when the stocks of this whiskey were laid down many people probably wondered about Mark Browns sanity and not prescience. Now that rye has caught on it will take years for the supply to be increased in any meaningful way. At 18 years old there was not much left in the barrel. 2/3 of the whiskey evaporated from the barrels before they were opened and bottled which is not too unusual for a whisky this age.
This whiskey is produced at the scenic Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort (close to Woodford Reserve Distillery if you are touring) home of numerous other whiskies – mostly bourbons – but also Thomas Handy Rye a barrel proof rye and a 6 year old version of Sazerac (for 1/2 the money and much more available – relatively speaking)See our Adventure Section for a tour of the distillery.
This is not a single barrel (see above) but a small batch from the mixing of a very small group of barrels. One of the most aged ryes on the market, but unlike some of the older ones, this was bottled at its peak. There are older ryes out there, but most have lost a lot of their flavor or have gotten so woody they taste like a barrel stave. Even Robert Parker would not be able to handle the oakiness of them.
In what seems to be a company tradition, (and a refreshing one) the price of ths whiskey is nowhere near the kind of money the competition would charge for similar quality if they could match it – it is much less.
Appearance: Antique copper/bronze like the highlights on a tsuba (the hanguard on a samurai sword).The color of this whiskey promises that you are in for a treat, well aged but not over the hill. Color of light Baltic amber in the glass. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey on swirling with scattered rivulets rather than legs developing.
First Impression: Rye spiciness, of course with a overlay of sweet malt to make a spicy melange, Vietnamese cinnamon, faint Sichuan pepper scent, whisper of clove.Very lively for a whiskey at this age.
Taste: Thick body and mouth feel generating warmth wherever it touches. There is a definite sweetness with a spicy sourness underlying it. Unlike many whiskies of it age group it is neither tired or over oaked ( both common but usually separate perils of aging past 12 years (or younger really) Lingering spicy sweet finish with a pleasing if paradoxical dryness.
Drinks: Rye is, of course, the proper whiskey for a Manhattan. Bourbon was later substituted as Rye was on the brink of extinction for a number of years until recently, but Rye was the original ingredient. That being said, most of the Rye in the late 1800s to 1950’s was not aged as long as this one most were probably closer to the 6 year old Sazerac Rye which it might be argued would be more authentic or true to the original. However this 18 year old makes for a much more sublime Manhattan, Sazerac or any other drink calling for real rye (not that Canadian stuff!)
Cigars:Works well with a Fuente Opus X or any Hemingway series
Bottle: The long, thin, clear glass, and small labels show off the color of the whiskey to good effect. The clear glass bottom lends a nice visual effect and give the bottle a decanter type feel and weight. A spare design that does not distract from the centerpiece, the bourbon. There is a small rectangular label near the bottom of the bottle that tells you the proof and bootling date. It is distinguished from the other bottles in the Sazerac Antique Collection by a dark green neck foil with gold bands
Final Thoughts: This rye will change anyone’s mind about rye whiskey for the better. Most people who have tried rye in the past 40 years or so would rather drink broken glass than rye because of their experience of the commonly available ryes.Rye and rye drinkers had been written of by major whiskey producers years ago.This rye signals the renaissance of rye whisky making and a hopeful rebirth of not only the whiskey, but of a new population of rye drinkers. Any whiskey lover who tries it will become a convert.
Web site: http://www.bourbonwhiskey.com
Fast loading with a slightly annoying intro (no need for it). This however is
followed by a display of all the bourbons and ryes they make (over 20, not counting overseas variations). Extensive information and good pictures of each one, with reviews and ratings by different people and organizations.