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Thomas H. Handy Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye Bottled 2016

2016 Thomas H Handy: Best With Water

2 691

@VictorReview by @Victor

4th Mar 2017

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    91

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The reviewed bottle has been open for 7 weeks and is 60% full. Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye is part of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, released each year in the northern hemisphere fall. Thomas H Handy is approximately 7 years old, is bottled at barrel strength (i.e. 'uncut'), and is unfiltered. From my first sample of the 2010 release Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye has been a top favourite whisk(e)y for me. This 2016 release appeared a little problematical to me until I tried it with some water added

Nose: intense spice from rye grain and from wood- cassia/cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper; intense crystalline sugar. Gorgeous rye nose. The nose is as good or better with a little water added, resulting in even more intense assertiveness of the crystalline sugar. The sweet/dry balance is near perfect. Score: 24/25

Taste: at first I was disappointed with my bottle, because this 2016 release is the most strongly tannic Thomas H Handy which I have tasted. I get distracted and displeased by strong tannin flavours in any whisk(e)y. The flavours are excellent in quality, other than the strength of the tannins. The nose flavours translate well with the addition of a hint of sweet orange. Without water I would score the taste at 22 points. When you add a couple of drops of water the wood tannin is more restrained and the result is excellent. Score: 22 neat, 23 with water

Finish: continues the palate, with or without water, for a long balanced finish. This is almost is good as the delivery, right up to the death. Score: 22 neat, 22.5 with water

Balance: the only factor out of balance is the tannins, and a little water rectifies that. Score: 21 neat, 22 with water

Total Sequential Score: 91.5, with water

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Strength: very strong flavours throughout. Score: 24/25 points

Quality: all of the component flavours are excellent. Score: 23.5/25 points

Variety; very good variety of flavours. Score: 22/25 points

Harmony: only fair-good neat (19/25), but very good with water added. Score; 22/25 points

Total Non-Sequential Score: 91.5 points

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Comment: Whew! I was worried there for a while. I usually don't drink high proof whiskey with water added, so it took me a while to figure out that a little water was exactly what 2016 Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye needs to shine. I am very happy with this bottle now, and we are actually on a pace to consume this bottle of Thomas H Handy more quickly than we have ever done with a Thomas Handy before. We are drinking it quickly because we like it!

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6 comments

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@Victor I am glad you were able to get a bottle and even more that you enjoyed it. Just to make sure I understand you, when you say you don't like when there is too much tannins, is it the taste or the general mouthfeel and dryness that tannins brought that is problematic for you?

2 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Hello @Robert99. For me the taste of tannins, whether they be from wood or from fruit, can become overdone and distracting very quickly. With wood tannin the effect seems to me to derive partially from acidity and partially from sort of a burnt overly-toasted flavour. I find that particular flavour to be both dominating and distracting. It can become too much very quickly. Fruit tannins in wine seem to me to be heavy and lethargic. I experience those as a sort of inedible blob of heavy flavour. I notice the taste first in the case of wood tannins, but in cases with a lot of tannins present I will also notice the drying element as well. I usually also avoid wines with a lot of noticeable tannin present.

That said, there is the occasional exception in which I like a whisk(e)y which tends to have a lot of tannin present. One such exception is Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. ECBP is usually very tannic, but somehow I manage to like that one anyway. Why? I am not sure, but I think that it is probably because there is usually a sufficient sweetness in ECBP to act as a balance to the sour and slightly bitter influence of the tannins.

2 years ago 0

@MuddyFunster
MuddyFunster commented

Thanks for the tip. Going to try a little water in mine.

2 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

More on liking the tannic themes of ECBP: I think that with ECBP the tannins are integrated to form the backbone of the main very woody theme of that particular whiskey, and have no clash with any other strong flavours in the whiskey. Usually tannins bother me when I find them clashing and/or distracting from other pleasant contrasting flavours in a whisk(e)y. In the case of Thomas H Handy, heavy tannins distract me from the beautiful nuances of the spices, and also from the beauty of the crystallline sugar sweetness. Standing in contrast to those two elements the wood tannins in Thomas H Handy seem quite dull and out of place.

2 years ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@Victor Thanks for the answers. As usual, it is very instructive.

2 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

2016 Thomas Handy from this bottle fares very well with air exposure. 7 1/2 months after opening the bottle the tannins are almost unnoticeable, and this 2016 release is truly great. Now I'd sequentially score this one 24-23-23-23= 93 without water, and 24-23.5-23-23= 93.5 with water added.

about one year ago 0

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