this link for my post about rebottling). In any case, I apologize in advance that Urban Grain has become a string of whisky reviews of late, just seems to have happened that way.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection that comes out each fall, this one is from 2011. I was able to get this from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, of all places, for $60, a great value. In general the Antique Collection bottles are a bit hard to come by, but they are out there. I believe this whisky is an uncut and unfiltered version of their "baby Saz," a 6 year rye that you can find for about $30.
Color-For such a high proof I'd expect a darker whisky. This one is straw/gold in color.
Nose-Nose this one too quickly and you wreck your senses in a hurry. What comes to my mind is the cinnamon part of a sticky bun, coated in vanilla icing. Rich and sweet, yet sharp and spicy.
Taste-I am trying this with no water. I wouldn't recommend drinking too much high proof whisky with no water, but they bottled it that way so you could try it that way. The taste is an onslaught. Again, cinnamon and vanilla, here with some oak in the background. Like a slice of rye bread with butter and honey. The alcohol burns through the whole palate into the finish. But it still maintains a certain softness and pretty full mouthfeel despite the sharpness.
Value-I think the $60-75 price range is fair for the higher end Buffalo Trace products. They are unique, and their high proof is bang for the buck.
Intangible-I used this in a Manhattan once and it was maybe the best Manhattan I've ever had. I love the Antique Collection, but I don't love how hard it is to come by. I think this year I will hunt for Stagg again. Of the 5 entries in the collection, I think Stagg is generally the most special. But the W.L. Weller gives it a run for it's money. Both of the ryes are fantastic but I don't know if they are quite on the level as the other two. I've never had the Eagle Rare 17, though it's probably the easiest to find.
Jim Murray's review of the nose says the following, "Any crisper and the glass would shatter: hard as a diamond rye, but oh! so much more of a rare and valuable gem! Rye concentrate." Then he reprints that description for taste, finish, and balance verbatim. "I think you may have got the idea," he says.