Sazerac 18 Year Rye 2015
Sazerac 18 Year Rye
90 Proof Kentucky Straight Rye
Well, damn if I’m not a lucky son of a gun. Me and the boys have now managed to find 4 out of 5 BTAC bottles (some 2014, some 2015), all at MSRP. Of course, we’ve put in a lot of legwork, established relationships, spent thousands of dollars at local and non-local stores over the last couple years. We’ve met some great folks, even made some friends, all because of this beautiful beverage made here in the good ol’ USA. And the hunt is just beginning for this season. I mean, shit, we’ve got Antique Collection that still hasn’t hit in some states, and Pappy is just around the corner, plus a bunch of other great whiskey coming out soon. After tasting the 2014 the other night, I’m most excited for Four Roses’ Limited Edition 2015 Barrel Proof Small Batch. Hopefully Lady Luck stays on our side and we crack a bottle of that later this Fall.
For this review here we have the illustrious Sazerac 18 Year Rye, the last bottling of its kind. A few years ago, Buffalo Trace vatted the remaining 18 year rye they had into stainless steel tanks in order to halt the aging process. The last few bottlings of Saz 18 have been from the vats, so theoretically they haven’t aged and are all basically the same, whereas whiskeys like George T. Stagg can vary wildly from year to year. I’d be curious to know whether the whiskey did change at all just chilling in a stainless still vat. Anyway, apparently all that 18 year rye is now gone, so for the 2016 bottling we will see a totally different batch of rye that will have been waiting patiently in charred oak barrels for 18 years. Hope it’s as good as this batch, because let me tell you, this batch is great.
The nose. You definitely get a lot of barrel presence here, and what can normally be an aggressive grain (the rye) comes off much subtler because of the time spent in the barrel. We are also dealing with what I’m almost sure is a “barely-legal” rye. I know the Baby Saz (aka Sazerac 6 Year, aka Sazerac used-to-have-an-age-statement-that-was-6-years) is a 51% rye, 39% corn, 10% malted barley. I imagine this whiskey is somewhere around the same mash bill, but if anyone can tell me different I’d love to know the truth. So you get a lot of sweeter notes on the nose here from the corn and barrel, big vanilla and seasoned oak, coffee cake, orange, banana, and even blueberry, I swear. It’s a really nice nose, one of my all time favorites.
The palate. Initial sweetness of light brown sugar and honey is quickly overtaken by grainy rye, white pepper, and tannic oak. It’s a little grassy, and much spicier than the nose would lead on. Medium body with a medium-long, very dry finish. Truth be told, the palate lets me down a tiny bit after such a beautiful nose, but that’s not uncommon, and it’s only in the lack of complexity that I’m let down–the flavor is there, it’s just a bit on the peppery, spicy side, not quite balanced for my taste. It’s hard to say that, but I want to be honest and critique it in this one way, but also be clear that I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s a fantastic whiskey, and well worth the MSRP. Beyond that price, it’s really about how much disposable income you have. I choose to not buy bottles on the grey/black market, but that’s mostly because there’s so much great whiskey out there for decent prices that I have no need to. I sincerely hope that if you are a rye drinker that you will get to taste this at some point. Cheers, and thanks again to the fine folks at Buffalo Trace for making such great whiskey. What I wouldn’t give to drink this at barrel proof!
Rating: 9.7 / 10
Bought from an ABC store in Asheville, NC for whatever they normally go for…$80 I think.