Whisky Connosr
Buy Whisky Online

Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye bottled 2013

Average score from 5 reviews and 6 ratings 93

Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye bottled 2013

Product details

Shop for this

What next?

  • Add to cabinet
  • Add to wish list
Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye bottled 2013

I thought I would treat my self and pick out something special for my 300th whisky review. I wasn't counting until recently and only just realized that I was a few short of a triple.

So I said 'Why not? Treat yourself, son, you deserve it for all your hard work.' Because whisky drinking is just that. A treat.

I thought long and hard and settled on the 2013 bottle of the Thomas H Handy Sazerac straight rye whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. It's older brother by a year ended up winning top honors with a certain Jim Murray the year before. Since I didn't have two of those I decided to open this one (of which I do have another).

I have not had a lot of experience drinking rye whiskey. I would like to, though. The spicier, drier cousin of straight bourbons rye whiskey is made from a minimum mash of 51% rye with barley and corn making up the rest. Straight rye means it's been aged for a minimum of 2 years in virgin American oak.

This particular one ha seen a bit more ageing than the minimum. This year’s was distilled in the spring of 2007 and aged on the seventh floor of Warehouse K. At 6 years old, it is the youngster of the Antique Collection.

Bottled at 128.4 Proof (64.2% ABV) my sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Quite sweet. Almost made me salivate. Dry. Leather. Mocha. Coffee beans. Cinnamon. Pomegranate. Rose water. Vanilla. Chocolate digestives. Cherry licorice. Cola. Cherry cola. Oak. Strong, bold spicy aromas. Love it!

Palate: Very hot. Lots of cinnamon and black pepper spices. Leather. Red wine tannins. Coffee. Gets even more spicier mid-palate. I can actually taste the rye here. Spearmint. Chocolate. Vanilla. I wasn't too taken it with on my first sip but then the second and third really drove it up a notch.

Finish: Long. Extremely long. Oak. Long. Cinnamon. Long. A touch dry. A touch bitter. And did I say long? Very long.

I'm glad I made this one signify a small milestone. These are precisely the type of flavors that drove me into the arms of whisky in the first place. So it was only fair that I pick this one up from the shelf to mark an occassion.

@MaltActivist, Big review for a Big whiskey. A great choice and much appreciated by this rye-hound. 300 and counting! In Ten Pin Bowling 300 is a perfect score. Congratulations!...from an old pin chaser.

Bravo, @MaltActivist! Thanks for the 300 wonderful reviews you have contributed to the canon of whisky review literature. Feels good hitting 300, doesn't it?

Not all Thomas H Handys show spearmint notes. In my book that is a good thing.


I own a lot of bottles of Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey. Why? Because it's my favourite standard-bottling whiskey in the world. It is a good thing I do own a few bottles, though, because publicity by Jim Murray has made Thomas Handy Rye difficult to obtain, even in the US. Just a couple of years ago, bottles of Handy could be found on store shelves where I live for most of the year. No more

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is one of the five whiskeys in the Sazerac Company's Buffalo Trace Distillery's Antique Collection, along with George T. Stagg bourbon, William Larue Weller (wheated) bourbon, Sazerac 18 yo Rye, and Eagle Rare 17 yo bourbon. The Antique collection is released in the Fall of each year. Sometimes Eagle Rare 17, Sazerac 18, and George T. Stagg might also be released in the Spring of the year

I have tasted 2009 Handy, and own 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Handy. So why have I only reviewed one of these previously, the 2010 release? Mostly because Thomas Handy Rye has been getting a lot of attention elsewhere, especially from Jim Murray. A lot of people already know about Handy now, so it is less important for me to spread the word. So far I haven't even bothered to review the Handy 2011 release, which Mr. Murray named 2013 World Whisky of the Year. There is nothing wrong with the 2011 release, but I actually like the 2010 release a little better

The reviewed bottle has been open for 6 months and is 90% full

Nose: a perfect rye-whiskey nose, intense, thick, many layers of spice and fruity flavours in the standard rye grain palette of flavours: cinnamon-cassia, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, black raspberries, and plums. There is plenty of sweetness and vanilla from the oak, which balances the predominant emphasis of DRY which is typical of US rye whiskeys

Palate: very good translation of nose flavours to the mouth, though the flavours are not quite as perfect as in the nose

Finish: long and intense, with all the fabulous flavours remaining

Balance: outstanding balance of the parts; the 2012 release is another outstanding release of Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye. This tastes great with water also, and you will get some very interesting effects and variations from adding some, but 66.2% abv is just too low for me to consider adding water, except for this review

I traded my lottery won Saz 18 for the 2012 Handy and he threw in a 2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. Now that I have had a few drams I would have made this trade without the OFBB. This is the finest Whiskey I have ever had and that includes the the 2015 WLW which is also spectacular.

@Victor - thank you for an informative review. 66.2% sounds like a beast !


This rye was distilled in Spring of 2007 and aged in the 7th floor of warehouse K.

Nose: Coffee beans, soapy, lemon grass, eggnog, and butter scotch.

Taste: It's medium bodied. Raisins, molasses, a nice strong rye spice, lots of tannins and grip. Quite hot but not unbearable. Other taste notes include orange peel and some lemon tea.

Finish: oak, lemon tea again, dry, tannins, wood, the coffee returns, and rye spice again.

I personally liked the profile of the 2012 Handy and found it to be more enjoyable than this. There was also more power to that bottling than this one.


Maple nose with cloves, cinnamon, raisins, butter brickle. The taste broadens into dark swirl rye, challah, honey butter, maple, typical bourbony maraschino cherries, taffee, vanilla, tapioca. Finish is very long and luxurious with plenty of wood, sharp alcohol fire in the nose, caramel, sharper sweets and corn syrup.

This bourbon is a strong devil. The alcohol took my breath away (literally) and made me gasp. That's rare for me. I drink scotches with as much ABV and don't experience that "whoooey!" that actually is almost painful, like the way my prettiest girlfriends were usually also the most cruel hearted, almost in a sadistic way. I guess I will never know if I was attracted to their beautiful torturously mean personalities, or just their beauty and charisma that were both admittedly out of my league and hence fleeting. I still think about a few of those terrible beauties from my past, but I rarely remember how much pain they caused. Instead, I think of the fun times. Likewise with this bourbon, I just want to taste it again even though at the time it made me wince and gasp for oxygen!

Water really smoothed out the glass, but took away some of the fiery magic. I would say that four or five drops is the most I would use, even with the high ABV because the flavors get muted. Yes, I know some of the better respected experts might disagree. Oh well. I'm entitled to my opinion, I guess. Over the past five years, I've probably tasted nearly a hundred different whiskies, so I'm not exactly a slacker, myself ; )

Helpful review! I recently picked up the baby Saz, which is supposed to be a diluted version of Handy. If my memory serves me well, you didn't much care for the baby Saz in your review. Does it have the same flavors with more intensity, or do you have the sense that the juice in Handy is itself is better? I'm asking because I wasn't blown away by my bottle of baby Saz, and the Handy may be the only member of the BTAC line that I can get hold of.

In any case, very soon--probably later this month-- another terrible beauty will be born...

I like this review and its comparison, I would love to find the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection even if its one of the bottles. As Ive heard basically legendary reviews and I love bold flavors and bold whisk(e)y!!!!


This bottle was an entirely accidental find at Premier Wines & Liquors in Buffalo. We walked into the store and there, for no reason, were eleven bottles of this just sitting there for the taking. After high-fiving each other in the middle of the store for a while, Chris and I picked up a bottle each (should've bought more, damn it!)

Who is Thomas H. Handy? Born in 1830, he worked for the owner of the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans; when the owner died, he bought the place. He and his friend Antoine Peychaud Jr. served Sazerac cocktails to great success. When Handy decided to replace French brandy with American rye whiskey, patrons raved and business grew even more.

This is a strange whiskey to be part of Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection, since it carries no age statement and is likely very young, probably six to seven years old. But then again, the flavour profile is probably more similar to the rye whiskies of yesteryear than the 18 Year Old, or the standard Sazerac Rye. It is uncoloured, unfiltered and cask strength (hence the variations with every annual release).

The colour is a deep dark golden colour with reddish highlights. On the nose, dill pickle (with eucalyptus?), raspberries, cloves and vanilla pods. Tons of spices, actually, including cinnamon and nutmeg. Old leather. Some caramel as well. Beautiful, but with water it's perfection, with more mint and rye spices but retaining the fruitiness.

On the palate, quite hot and mouth-drying. Lots of mint, oak, leather, and ginger. Hugely spicy, lots of pepper and tobacco. Incredibly complex. Water works wonderfully, taming the alcohol and adding a little smoke with cayenne. Not for the faint of heart!

Finish is extremely deep and powerful, warming but also very clean, with lots of spice, cloves, and late-arriving spearmint. This is power, beauty and complexity in a glass. If you find this, or any Antique Collection bottles, buy them immediately. This is a stunning spirit. Previous releases have won such awards as Best North American Non-Bourbon Whiskey from the World Whiskies Awards (2011) and the 2011 Release won 2013 World Whisky Of The Year from Jim Murray. This 2012 Release scored a 92 from John Hansell in Whisky Advocate. Well deserving of everything.

Holy Sophie's Choice! My God. Which child do I send to the ovens...well, tonight I've had my share of Stagg...so right now, I'm a little Stagged out (translation: my mouth is a burning oak forest). So I'm going to say Handy. No! Stop, evil Nazi! Give me back my Staaaaagggg!!!!

I would love to acquire the Antique Collection. This sounds like an excellent drop.

Popular Thomas H. Handy whiskies