A local bar tweeted about the arrival of a few bottles of Saz18 and THH. Having never tried the Saz18, it dutifully trudged through the snow and cold for the privilege of paying through the nose for a double measure. This is a Rye that has been consistently lauded over the years here at SB and elsewhere.
Maybe it was just my palate, or the fact that the bottle had only recently been opened, but I wasn't nearly as blown away as I thought I would be. Don't get me wrong, I do love old rye. VWFRR still lingers in my memory as one of the best things I've ever tasted. And I just recently finished a bottle of V21 that I thoroughly enjoyed. This Saz was good, maybe even great ... but not mind blowing. I might go back in a few weeks and try it again with a fresh palate, after time and aeration have worked their magic, to see if I like it better.
Afterward I came home and poured myself a generous glass of Ritt BIB (from a bottle that cost only $5 more than that double shot of Saz) and wondered why I bothered going out in the cold.
This goes to show that, indeed, tastes can be quite different. I have had most of the older ryes and Sazerac 18 still ranks as my second favorite.
While I like both THH & Saz18 for different reasons the nod goes to the Saz18 for me. Not even close.
I think Thomas Handy is one of the best whiskies on the market. I also think that Sazerac 18 (20) is something special. It's like PVW 20. It's very subtle yet elegant. It's not the kick in the teeth that Handy might be and it doesn't have the heavy oak influence that the Vintage Ryes or BMH have. I'll be sad when the spigot eventually runs dry on this fine whiskey.
Isn't the prevailing speculation that BT tanked the COK/Saz18 and are portioning it out for just long enough to allow the BT Saz juice to mature? With any luck, in a few years THH will be able to take its rightful place in the Antique collection as a full-fledged teenaged Rye (hopefully still barrel strength/NCF).