This Sazerac 18 from the 2011 release of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection may be the oldest rye I’ve tasted, but then again it may not; there are rumours that the Van Winkle Rye 13 may in fact be a lot older than 13. But this is certainly the oldest rye I’ve tasted by stated age. Why the American whiskey business can’t be more transparent, I don’t know. Anyway, I managed to get my hands on the entire BTAC release for 2011 when I was first trying to develop a sense of bourbon–back then it was possible to actually find and buy them all. I split the collection 50/50 with my friends Jessica and Nate–they kept the bottles, I took my half in mason jars because I’m hillbilly that way.
Last year I made an attempt to score some of the BTAC and failed. This year I don’t think I’m going to try very hard. It’s not that I don’t think the whiskeys are worth it; I think they are–despite the price increases they still present very good price/quality ratios compared to Scotch of similar quality. It’s just that my ability to truly appreciate this stuff is not very well developed and so the gigantic hassle of trying to score a bottle makes the entire experience not worth it.
Sazerac 18, 2011 Release (45%; Buffalo Trace Antique Collection; from my own bottle)
I have no idea what the rye component of the mashbill is here or what the source of the distillate is.
Nose: Cold tea, pine, cinnamon, mint. Some darker aromas after that–some toffee, some dried tangerine peel, some brown sugar and maple syrup. Very nice depth of aroma. More wood with time.
Palate: Very nicely integrated. The rye notes don’t jump out at all. They’re there–the pine, mint etc.–but in perfect balance with caramel, toffee, some of that dried tangerine peel from the nose, and also some non-tannic wood. Very smooth and highly drinkable. The wood becomes more and more palpable with every sip but it’s not very tannic and rather pleasurable.
Finish: Medium; nothing new.
Comments: The fact that it has been in a half-full mason jar for a while probably has had some effect on this whiskey, so please factor that it into how seriously you take this review. As tasted today, however, it is the least rye-forward of all the ryes I’ve had. Which may be why I like it the most of all the ones I’ve had so far. Apart from the minty/pine thing this has some things in common with some sherried single malts, though it is, of course, woodier than single malts of similar age. Would probably make a killer Manhattan (and that statement might be another reason why it’s probably a good thing for me to not get any more BTAC).
Rating: 88 points.