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Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Average score from 5 reviews and 13 ratings 90

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Sazerac
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 45.0%
  • Age: 18 year old
  • Bottled: 2013

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Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

On of the hardest releases to get this year. I was fortunate enough to taste this with a local club tonight. This rye was aged in warehouse K for 18 years and imo, it's the best of the 2013 BTAC.

Nose: Brown sugar, herbal, perfume, bread pudding, cherries.

Taste: It's rather light bodied but wow does this have texture. Rather velvety and just a ridiculously lush mouth feel. Predominant flavor is a cherry cough syrup. It's medicinal, with a big fruits/red berry overload. Chocolate cherries, maraschino cherries, along with mint.

Finish: The Rye finally shines on the finish. But you get more of the same cherry cough syrup, oak, and mint. The finish is long and lasts with the rye persisting throughout.

Consistent smells, taste, superb texture on the body, and a nice finish. The best of this years BTAC imo.


Nose: Much like the William Larue Weller, we're welcomed by an explosion of banana bread. Of course this is rye rather than bourbon, however the Buffalo Trace distillery characteristics still come through, as do those of the rye - spearmint, cauliflower, white chocolate, candle wax and even iodine covered edamame beans.

Taste: The beans are still there on the palate, although this time of the standard green variety, sprinkled with crushed almonds. Plenty of nougat and marzipan, nicely counter-balanced by the cigar smoke and iodine. There's even an element of oaky milk-of-magnesia coming from somewhere. A complex and rewarding palate if given the time to express itself.

Finish: The eucalyptus and strong herbal spice element from the rye really shines through here, with underneath it a generous layer of fruit, with oranges and bitter peaches the most prominent. Aniseed, leather and oak, as well as that rogue milk-of-magnesia all complete this very contained and highly impressive finish.

Balance: This may be a slightly less delicate and sophisticated version of Sazerac than the highly lauded Thomas H Handy variety, however this is nonetheless highly characterful and elegant stuff, and perhaps even benefits from a slightly more bitter profile that the Thomas H Handy, thus giving it its own identity. Comparison apart, this is top notch rye and worth every penny.

@OJK, is this a review of the recent 2011 release Sazerac 18, or of another year's release? I did two reviews of the 2010 release, and one of the 2011 release. To me they are quite different, both in character and in quality.

Hi @Victor - this is a review for the 2011 release, apologies should have stated it in the title. I have a bottle of the 2009 release as well and found the 2009 to be slightly more interesting than this 2011 release. Both top quality rye though.


I love rye grains in my whiskey, beer, and bread so when I seek out rye imbued products my biggest concern is that you know without hesitation that it is indeed RYE. The Sazerac 18 year old Rye delivers on all fronts and should NEVER be served cut with H20 in my opinion. (Note that the "baby" Sazerac does a darn good job on reflecting the Rye character as well... review sometime soon).

Nose: Full frontal assault of rye greets you and never let go much like the heavy peated Islay scotch does in its own right. Think toasted pumpernickel bread with an undertone of apple and grapefruit, acidic sourness, leather, toffee, cinnamon, white pepper, mint, and grains of paradise vapours as well. Unlike it’s younger sibling the oak and tannic aromas are actually less despite increased time in the barrel but you do pick up more char and ashy earthy and tobacco esters.

Palate: Sweet undertone of caramel and oak is found under the unabashed spicy rye kick in the face. This is one of the few times you will enjoy getting your tongue abused. An earthy roundness and simple light fruit is around to play in the fertile rye fields. Some nutty, vanilla, oak, tawny molasses and burnt sugars show more towards the finish.

Finish: Dry and ashy but highly aggressive and quite long with a moderate warming character, actually cleaner than you would initially figure upon. After a full dram of this elixir you might want to grab a pint of fresh cold water to provide relief from cotton mouth. Did I say the finish is quite long?

Mouth feel: Medium to full bodied, with a dry spicy overtone, brash and aggressive (but less than the “baby” Sazerac). The dram is bold, robust and not for the faint of heart.

Overall: Simple a fine display of the grain and the barrel, a masterpiece and a fitting tribute to the first distilled America spirits. At this moment I can’t think of another American whiskey I would rather have.

(Original review date: 09 March 2009)

Wonderful review, @bbb63! Thanks for sharing.


This review is an update and a supplement to my review entitled Old Saz 2010. It is an interesting and sometimes mysterious thing how the 'living things' that are whiskies have a life of their own and actively evolve after the bottles are open. Bourbons, especially, and rye whiskeys as well, frequently, usually, I would say, shift flavour profiles in the weeks, months, and, yes, definitely, even years after a bottle is first opened. In the case of bourbons my experience is that this shifting, in the first year or two at least, is almost always toward an opening up, a filling out, or a rounding out of flavours which results in an improvement. I wrote a review of Old Charter 8 yo in which I commented that I would have graded it at 72 when I first drank it, but a full year later it had very substantially changed and was now worth an 80 to me. NO, my tastes had not changed in that time with respect to that whiskey, nor had I only tasted it one or two times previously--it had changed a lot, and for the better. So too, I was very surprised and unhappy with my first bottle of Elijah Craig 12 yo because it had, for the first 6 or 8 times I sampled it over months of time, that kiss of death for me: a soapy finish. Two full years later-- 2 YEARS-- I took a taste and...the soap was COMPLETELY GONE. This was now a brand new whiskey for me to try, one that I had not experienced before, and one that it turned out I liked very much. This review is of that well known hallmark of ryewhiskeydom, Sazerac 18 yo, from the Sazerac Antiquities Collection. Because Rye Whiskey is my favourite flavour profile whiskey, I had eagerly anticipated this bottle when I acquired it in October 2010. When I tasted it I found myself severely disappointed, since, as I reported in my previous review, even though there are nice refined flavours present, they did not seem to come together to me at all, nor did they shine in any way. I sampled the whiskey for review with the bottle open 4 months on Feb 4, 2011, and at that time it had the same basic flavour profiles I had observed in October, with the exception that it had started to open up its flavours a little bit. I rated it at an 87, which is quite good for whiskies in general, but which is a severe disappointment for what was anticipated to be a '95-class' whiskey. Now, at 5 months with the bottle open, I am happy to report a most surprising and delightful development: the flavours have, for the first time, jelled together in a way that makes this bottle of whiskey work!

Nose: fragrant, rather floral rye spice, hint of grapefruit, moderate intensity

Taste: this is more fruity in the mouth than in the nose, with cherries, pears, and a nice mixing of high, middle, and bass notes. This opens up after 3-4 seconds into an almost startling sweetness. At 4 months of open bottle, this had just started to open up, but the rye spice seemed disjointed from the wood flavours. Now, at 5 months there are additional bass notes from the wood in evidence, and the wood and rye spice flavours have come together to form a delicious coherent fabric of flavour. ("rye spice", for me, approximately = black pepper+cloves+cinnamon+ginger)This is more of a middle and bass notes rye than its sibling the 2010 release Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, which has more soprano and tenor high and middle notes in emphasis. This is not surprising by virtue of the deep wood flavours acquired after 18 years of new oak aging, compared to probably less than half that length of time in wood for the Handy

Finish: long, spice remains until the end, until after the fruit has departed

Balance: This works very well now as a top-quality rye whiskey, and the kinsman of the 2009 Release of the Sazerac 18, which Jim Murray named 2010 World Whisky of the Year

You raise a very good issue, @Requiem: to what degree is the variation in our tastes of a particular bottle of whisky due to underlying variation in the whisky itself and to variation in our own palates? I strongly suspect the answer is that both are considerable influences.

As we develop our palates, we may over time come to appreciate some aspects (e.g., youth, alcoholic strength, nuance, etc.) more. Likewise, an open bottle may also develop over time and eventually come to express some more pleasant characteristics (e.g., a "rounding out" of some notes or a dissipation of some of the more dominant characteristics, allowing for certain subtleties to come through).

It is easy to recognize that palates will change significantly over time in certain circles, such as among the enthusiastic novices in the Connosr community, because they will regularly experience new scents and tastes ("information") with which to regularly reevaluate and reassess their preferences. Over time, however, they will experience fewer radical departures from what they had previously experienced, simply because they will have fairly thoroughly sampled the "universe" of tastes; thus, their palates will develop at a slower (and perhaps negligible) rate. In the meanwhile, however, they may become more sensitive to changes within the bottle, because their sensory apparati have become better instruments over time and because the character of a bottle does indeed change with exposure to air.

All this to say that one could design a series of experiments to get at this question, though it would be more work (and money) than most of us would wish to undertake. Perhaps Diageo or Sazerac would be willing to fund a whisky research fellow?

Your reviews are always, um, good eats for me, @Victor. But I wonder if the whisky really changed or you changed.

You're pretty vociferous here that your tastes didn't change over the two years with the EC12, which I found to be a rather average bourbon, PS. So I have to wonder, and maybe @dbk can help me here as a scientist, isn't there something Heisenbergian about all this?

In terms of my own training that I'm donkey-carting to whisky appreciation, the reader/imbiber always transforms the thing/whisky/text under consideration/observation. Am I off the wall here? Or is this simply a process of maturation and understanding with--I don't know--genres of whisky? It must be to a large degree, I say. Not long ago the Rittenhouse 100pfBiB put me on my backside: today it is the best strong magic that makes me hunger for more in the way of complicated, intensely flavored ryes at high strength.


Sazerac 18 yr old rye whiskey is one of five whiskeys featured in the Sazerac Antiquities Collection, which is released in the fall of each year. This review is of the Fall 2010 release Sazerac 18 yr old Rye Whiskey.

Nose: fragrant, rather floral rye spice, hint of grapefruit, moderate intensity

Taste: more fruity in the mouth than in the nose, cherries, even pears, a nice mixing of high, middle and bass notes. This starts a little closed, and then opens up, becoming almost startlingly sweet. This bottle has been open for 4 months and the flavours have opened and developed in a favourable way. There is rye spice, but it is almost intermittent with the other flavours

Finish: long, spice remains until the end, after the fruit has departed

Balance: I do not find this very well coordinated in its flavours--they just do not jell well into a coherent whole. I was very excited to get this bottle after Jim Murray awarded World Whisky of the Year to the 2009 release of Sazerac 18 Rye. As a lover of rye whiskey I have tasted many that I like better than this 2010 release of the Sazerac 18 yr old, especially the 2010 Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, and the Old Potrero rye whiskeys. This is a good quality whiskey, but not near the top of my list for premium rye whiskey

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