By Father John Rayls
I really don’t like handing out an “A+” to anything or anyone. Seriously, does a grade like that mean perfection or that it can never be bested in anyway? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know this is the very best rye I’ve ever tasted. Buffalo Trace not only knocked the ball out of the park, they changed the game forever insofar as I am concerned. Picture one of the final scenes in the Robert Redford movie, The Natural, as Roy Hobbs knocks the final pitch above the upper deck into the lights as the thousands of sparks drift to the ground and he wins the game, saves the manager and triumphs over evil. This rye is that good.
As for what is behind this year’s installment of Thomas H. Handy, it was pulled from 61 barrels of approximately 6 1/2 years of age, bottled uncut at 126.2 proof, and it’s ready to party!
Thomas H Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey is beautiful to behold. It’s color is a mix of dark copper and dark brass highlights. The legs are some of the longest and slowest I’ve ever seen. After the initial swirl, I waited and waited to see the legs appear near the top and drain to the bottom. They appeared shy and reluctant and yet you knew they would eventually make a showing.
The nose is soft, but not shy, and delicious. It’s well balanced and only gives a very slight burn when inhaled deeply. There are notes of leather, oak, vanilla and a lushness that’s hard to describe. The aromas are very inviting.
The flavor is of toffee, cinnamon and cloves. The fantastic viscosity takes the mouth experience to a very different level. It’s not thick and yet there is a magnificent syrupy mouth-feel. The whole mouth is coated as the rye begins its flavor explosion. The front and middle of the tongue experiences some steady, but light activity. The back of the tongue and the back roof of the mouth gets the majority of the action. The finish is long and deliriously enjoyable. Don’t rush this part of the experience. It fades with notes of cinnamon that are strong, but not overpowering.
Good luck finding any Thomas H. Handy sitting around on the shelves of your local retailer. I had just ordered a bottle from my whiskey guy before receiving this sample, and will fortunately pay just under $90.00. If you can’t do as I did or win a lottery bottle, you will find it being offered for upwards of $400.00 through “alternative” markets.
Don’t wait on this one. Rush to your dealer and ask to be put on the list. You can thank me later.