Unicorn Alert! Sazerac 18 Fall 2012 Vintage WOW!

Words fail to describe how good this whiskey is.  Sazerac 18, despite being bottled at 90 proof, is probably my favorite whiskey out there.  Thank you Buffalo Trace.  All hail BTAC.  I was incredibly lucky to find this being poured at a bar in London…

Pure candy nose, mushroom in the back. Spicy cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Superb nose.

Super smooth, easy down. So crisp and sharp with sweet and spicy notes.  Small but nice tannins. Long finish. This is epic.

Obviously a special bottle. Expectations met. 98/100.

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CEHT Seasoned Wood: drink a sample, buy ECBP release #11 or Barrell Bourbon instead.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood Bottled in Bond is the latest special release from the CEHT line from Buffalo Trace. This one was almost impossible to find; I was completely unable to find it at retail.  While refusing to pay $400+ on the secondary market, I was able to get a trade done for 5 bottles of mine, enabling me to reduce the size of my already too big bunker. I was happy with my trade regardless of the outcome of the tasting.

Right after opening the bottle, the nose is toasted raisin bread, high heat, cinnamon sticks and cloves. It’s never fair to judge a bottle without giving it some air, but I wanted to see what it was like because I’m betting that most people didn’t buy their own bottle and relied on samples free from Buffalo Trace or trading.  After waiting 15 minutes I tested the nose again: much more mellow. Now I’m getting Cinnamon Toast Crunch with whole milk, Honey Nut Cheerios, (I must be hungry for carbs or something…..), hickory tree bark and Vermont maple syrup. The second time around the heat is much less pronounced.

The palate is enjoyable. There are brown sugar notes that are complimented by heat and a smoothness that goes straight down. My chest warms up with the easy finish, which goes on for over a minute but doesn’t morph into anything beyond the initial enjoyment.  It seems like it has been chill filtered because the tannins are weak and the bourbon lacks the grip that I was hoping to get. It’s too bad because everything about this whiskey makes me feel like at 125 proof, and no chill filtering, this could be one of the best ever.

Some people blindly love everything Colonel Taylor does…. So far I have been very happy as well but I always keep my eyes open and judge each bottle I taste on its own.  They bottle in bond everything, except their barrel proof releases, but I wish they did all their special releases at cask strength.  Buffalo Trace makes some of the best products in the world, but just because it comes off their stills doesn’t mean it’s gold–remember they also make Fireball (although technically I believe Fireball starts in Canada, but I digress….). If you were able to snag this bottle at the $79.99 retail price, you scored big time–but even at that price I prefer the most recent ECBP and Barrell Bourbon release–both have more complexity, more flavor, longer finish, and not to mention, much easier to find at retail. But at $350 secondary price, it’s not worth it. It’s very good, but not epic enough to warrant this pricing. I’m very glad I got it and not upset I opened it… Bourbon was made to be consumed, not crotch shotted, insta’d and for collecting dust on a shelf. It’s 92/100… Buy a dram at a bar or DM me to trade samples just so you can cross it off your list.

 

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Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey: Solid for the price, not as good as Sazerac

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the brands currently made by Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, KY. It is “a storied Pennsylvania style rye whose heritage commemorates Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square.”  It is Bottled-In-Bond meaning it has several governmental protections as well as 100 proof.

I did some family research and it turns out that my great, great grandfather owned a distillery and operated in Philadelphia… other parts of the family lived in and around Rittenhouse Square… Evidently they had a decent operation until Prohibition, and when they applied for a medicinal license, they were denied and the company, brand and the whiskey all went down the tubes… Not sure why it took my family 34 years to tell me this amazing history, but needless to say, I wanted to channel that familial spirit through this spirit…  Perhaps I should look into reviving the brand?

Medium Amber color.

Spicy and heated nose with fresh cinnamon bread, ginger snaps, whole black peppercorns and almond butter.

Palate reflects the spicy notes and also has decent hear with some oily wood tannins. The mouthfeel is very enjoyable and the finish is medium. Enjoyable rye.

If you can find this bottle under $25 it’s a strong bargain and worth adding to your whiskey cabinet. I have a preference for Sazarac but this is very solid for the price.  Unfortunately the spirits of my family distillery was not summoned during my tasting experience on this one, but it still was a good drink.  87/100.

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Sazerac Rye…. uncomplicated but very enjoyable… A Must Own?

It’s time to go back to Buffalo Trace and another allocated whiskey… Sazerac Rye Straight Rye Whiskey comes in a simple, yet elegant bottle, white writing part of the bottle with a cork cap.  Online I have read the mash bill is 51% rye, 39% corn and 10% malt, and the age to be 6 years.  Neither of these facts, nor any facts at all, are present on the bottle, save the legally required proof of 90.
Gorgeous color, golden amber with a touch of rust

Spicy nose, cinnamon, tulips, BBQ potato chips… you can sense the heat, but just enough to make you care.  The nose invites the taste.

Very nice taste, no oil here, no wood tannins, definitely a younger whiskey.  Very crisp finish, with spice and heat happily warming me up.  The finish is good, but it’s not a highly complicated one.  This is for enjoyment, but not lie back in your leather club chair and roll your eyes back in your head enjoyment.

When adding some water, citrus appears on the nose, mostly orange peel, but the BBQ chips still linger in the background.  The water mellows out the finish, but doesn’t detract… overall I think this is fine to drink neat.  I have not used it for a cocktail, but at this price point it wouldn’t be offensive to do so.
Sazerac Rye is uncomplicated, but very good.  I’m surprised it’s gone on allocation and impossible to find though.  It’s a lovely Rye, and certainly everyone should have one on their bar, but it’s not one that you should be chasing.  I bought this one for $30, and everyone should add this to their collection for that price.  I have seen some obnoxious retailers in NYC selling it for $50+ and they should be embarrassed.

Given the extreme value and high enjoyability factor, and definitely one that belongs on all whiskey cabinet shelves, Sazerac Rye scores very well.  92/100.

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