Age: 9 y/o? (standard edition c. 6 y/o)
Proof: 90 (45% ABV)
Maker: Buffalo Trace, Franfort, Kentucky (Sazerac Co.)
Rye whiskey was one of the first whiskeys made in the U.S. It briefly took over from rum as American’s drink of choice after the Revolution cut the former colonies’ ties with the U.K. Rye was long associated with Pennsylvania and Maryland, but sadly there are no major producers of rye left in either state, although the A. Smith Bowman distillery in Virginia does produce a rye available only in that state.
Sazerac is named for one of the first cocktails invented in the U.S., in New Orleans, to be precise. It consisted of surgar, rye whiskey (or originally Cognac) and Peychaud’s bitters served in a glass that had been rinsed with absinthe. Today, New Orleans is where Sazerac Co.’s headquarters still is, but their primary whiskey distillery is the large, historic distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky now known as Buffalo Trace (BT). Although BT uses three different bourbon recipes, Sazerac is its only rye. There are three editions of Sazerac Rye: Sazerac 18 y/o, Thomas Handy Sazerac (a barrel-proof version), and this one, nicknamed “Baby Saz” or “Saz Jr.”
It is a beautiful whiskey. The color is that of a new copper penny. There is possibly a little barrel char in the bottom of my glass, although that might be coffee grounds my dishwasher missed. The nose reminds me of apple juice (not cider), with apricots, alcohol, and hint of wood. In the mouth it is medium bodied, sweet, and rich. Like a lot of youngish rye whiskeys I get hints of tropical fruit, like mango and papaya. The finish is slightly dry, with a aweet and spicey cinnamon burn, then a touch of wood. The finish is long, surprisingly long for a young whiskey.
This is a tasty, sophisticated rye. Wild Turkey Rye, for instance, is more assertive and has more spicey rye character than Saz Jr., but Sazerac is hard to beat for a delicate sipping rye, or any other American style whiskey for that matter.