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Rye is a many splendered thing

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Alright...dumb title for a thread, but I just got the Saz 18 yo in Thursday and am now doing a side by side with Hirsch 21yo and rittenhouse 100.

Hirsch 21yo, smooth, citrus, orange,

Rittenhouse 100, intense licorish

Sazerac 18yo, wow, humm, I gonna have work on what this flavor is. Somewhere in between the other two on intensity.

Obviously I'm gonna have to work on being able to describe what I'm tasting. I will say that each of these are as different as night, day and dusk. The Rittenhouse 100 is a taste bud waker-upper, kind of like putting a piece of Sen-Sen on your tongue. I really liked the pronounced flavor of this saying, "here I am, this is who I am and if you don't like it you can say Jimmy crack corn and I don't care".

The Saz 18yo is a work of style and art, but with a hint of the back room piano player belting out a tune and a cat snoozing at his feet. The tune has some bourbon street blues, down home, to the point, but comforting. Just enough edge to hear the melody, but not enough to wake the dead.

The Hirsch 21 yo, welcome the manor. If you'll be seated in the library, Frederick will pour you a drink. While waiting in library and sipping the hirsch, you notice the game trophy heads on the walls, each one eyeing your libation. A sophisticated pour, tamed, but still with a hint of it's origin in the rye tundra. The leather in the room and the rifles on the wall let you know it comes from primitive roots, but the reidel glass your drinking it from lets you know you dealing with something that has been captured and prized.

Well there it is,

More research on these will DEFINATELY be required.

I guess I should say too, I like all of them, just in different ways.

Somebody told me the best way to start describing beverages is to start by trying to describe food as you eat it. that could be annoying! LLOL...


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. . . I'm gonna have to work on being able to describe what I'm tasting.

I've found this list , scroll to "A Tasting Vocabulary", to be of some assistance in my feeble attempts to put the sensations of my leather palate into English.

Yours truly

Dave Morefield

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  • 2 months later...

Last night:

Wild Turkey Rye

Sazerac 6-7

Sazerac 18

Old Portrero Straight Rye

Process - pour 1 1/2 oz each into cask aged spirits glasses. Nose each. Nose again and sample each. Drink each through.

Wild Turkey Rye: The most balanced and my favorite or these four. Good but not overly complex nose. Nice sweet notes on the palate with the undertone of Rye ever present. The finish is medium long and very well balanced. I have no knocks and nothing but good things to say about this.

Sazerac 6-7: Another very good pour. Slightly warmer and deeper nose than the WT and almost as well balanced on the palate. It finished very similar to the WT with a bit more bite. If WT were not available this would be a great substitute.

Sazerac 18: Very bountiful nose with complex notes of leather, fruit and spice. It's nose is it's greatest asset. On the palate the complexity follows through with a nice balance but not as impressive as the previous two. The finish was long but brought some unpleasant bitter notes I found offputting. I consider all the antique collection to be high end products and was, overall, disappointed that this Rye didn't stand up better to it's younger (and less expensive) competition.

Old Portrero Straight Rye: Rye in your face. Viscosity of motor oil. Heavy rye/mint/anise overtones on the nose. While, on the palate, this seemed too intense initially, second, third, fourth sips revealed a complex and simply delightful drink. The finish was very long and complimented the palate nicely. I don't know where to rate it in this line up. It may not even belong here. If you haven't tried this whiskey yet.... Give it time to grow on you. It's almost rude on first approach but rapidly grows into a very nice drink.


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Keep in mind that Old Potrero (whatever version) is 100% malted rye, which makes it unique among rye whiskeys. My 90 proof version, when nosed, gives me an impression of baking bread (oddly, not rye bread!), and has a taste that I've referred to as "rye that took a detour through Speyside." Nice stuff, but expensive enough that I don't sample it often.

I've noticed a slight bitter/woody edge to the Saz 18, as well - and I like it. Then again, I'm not shy with the bitters when I mix a Manhattan. :) Actually, I've noticed lots of layers to Saz 18 - to the point that one glass of it can give me different impressions with each sip. Sometimes, it's sweet, sometimes the wood comes out, sometimes there's a bitter "amaro" edge to it, sometimes it's spicy, and sometimes more than one of the preceding show up. It's best savored slowly, IMO. It make a truly incredible Sazerac cocktail as well, but it's expensive and rare enough that I've only mixed it twice, ever.

The WT and Saz Jr. ryes are certainly great pours in their own right - and Rittenhouse BIB has a lovely snap to it as well. Saz Jr. benefits from a bit of air - my first pour of it was a bit harsh, but revisits lost the harshness. From the availability+price+quality standpoint (in Chicago at least) Rittenhouse BIB and WT are the overall winners, to my taste.

I need to revisit my Old Overholt, though, in light of the comments that it needs a bit of air - I noticed the earthiness as well, and set the bottle aside for future re-examination.

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