Sazerac 18 year old rye whiskey, 45% alcohol,
Buffalo Trace Distilleries
Here we are, the last of my wry series of rye tastings (okay, bad pun, I admit, but note that, to my credit, I avoided any Salinger reference during this entire series), and oh what a tasting it is.
Sazerac 18 year old, the granddaddy of Buffalo Trace ryes, is a heavenly elixir, probably the most complex of the ryes I've tasted. The aroma is surprisingly fruity, as is the first sip, then you get the sweet caramel that is more associated with Bourbon and even the vanilla you sometimes get from aged Scotch.
What it doesn't strike you as is rye. Just as a peaty Scotch mellows as it ages, over its 18 years in the barrel, the spice notes have settled. Of course, they may not have been that strong to begin with. The 6 year old Sazerac had them, but they were much more understated than the other ryes I sampled.
This bottling shows me that rye has the comlexity and beauty to play with the big boys. The Daddy Saz is a fitting end to a fun series of tastings. Based on the sampling I did, the quality of new ryes being put out right now is excellent, running from the powerful spice of Old Potrero to the delightfully subtle Baby Saz, through the balanced Rittenhouse 100 and ending with the giant complexity of the Sazerac 18.
To sum up: It's a good time to be rye.
Next Wednesday: The Good Book