Whisky Connosr
Menu
Shop Join

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Old Saz 2010 at 5 Months

0 791

@VictorReview by @Victor

12th Mar 2011

0

  • Nose
    ~
  • Taste
    ~
  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
    ~
  • Overall
    91

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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

Related Sazerac reviews

7 comments

@dbk
dbk commented

Nice to see the whiskey has improved with time, @Victor. I hope it keeps evolving favorably!

9 years ago 0

@HP12
HP12 commented

And there was one lone bottle of "Old Saz 18" at our local state owned monopoly liquor store just sitting there for weeks. I passed on it several times but figured maybe someday I'd cave and "take it off their hands". It's now in someone else's cabinet. Good to know time will soften it which is why I initially passed on it. More nice education @Victor...thanks much as usual!

9 years ago 0

@RobertH
RobertH commented

I have a 2008 and 2010 version of these rye's. It will be a while till I have the chance to give it a go, but I look forward to it. Thank you @Victor!

9 years ago 0

@Requiem
Requiem commented

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.

9 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

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?

9 years ago 0

@Requiem
Requiem commented

Thanks for the detailed explanation, @dbk. I have never noticed whisk(e)y changing in the bottle, but I will definitely pay greater attention to these subtle shifts.

Your idea for a whisk(e)y study is actually a great idea. Now there's a fellowship that you'd enjoy--maybe NSERC would fund something!

9 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

I don't think whisky appreciation is under NSERC's purview, @Requiem, but given the current government's interest in all things corporate, I'm sure we could wrangle up some joint federal-multinational sponsorship. ;)

9 years ago 0

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in