With the explosion in popularity with rye whiskey, Buffalo Trace’s Thomas H. Handy Rye has become one of the company’s hottest properties, and one of the most sought after and difficult to find entries in the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. It doesn’t help that this rye has snagged about every major award out there.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey (63.4% ABV, $80) – last year we shrugged our shoulders a bit at the left turn that Thomas H. Handy took with an odd, okra/vegetal quality. It’s unfortunate that we have to report that this year’s Handy still has some of the same vegetal/dill top notes, although less pronounced.
The nose leads with this odd vegetal note (more dill pickle this year than okra); it is less dominant, but it’s still there. Beyond this vegetal note is caramel, rye spice, cinnamon, and oak. There’s also a touch of graphite on the nose, but it’s far less than last year’s release. Overall, the nose has a dry, straw-like character to it.
The entry for this year’s Thomas H. Handy is a slightly richer than the nose would suggest, with a caramel blast that quickly transitions to the dry straw character from the nose. The midpalate for Handy is dry and spicy dominated by cinnamon, clove, rye spice, and oak. This edition of Thomas H. Handy is around 6 years old, and so the level of oak here isn’t overwhelming. At the end of the midpalate there is a sold dash of No. 2 pencil which doesn’t integrate well with the other flavors in the mix.
The finish is fairly dry and many of the flavors presented in the midpalate vanish, leaving a cinnamon-spiced graphite note. There is a cooling on the palate after this whiskey has finished but it’s also fairly puckery dry.
Has Thomas H. Handy Rye finally fallen from grace? Not completely. This year’s entry isn’t the train wreck that last year’s entry was, but it’s not the stunner of year’s past. The variations of these whiskeys from year to year are an excellent example of how different batches of whiskey, aged in different casks, can be very different. This year’s Thomas H. Handy isn’t horrible, but it’s also not amazing. 85 Points.
2015 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Reviews: