Monday, January 16, 2012

Have just tried - Sazerac Rye

Sazerac Rye is an American whiskey that is made at the Buffalo Trace distillery.  The distillery is located in the town of Frankfort, which is in the famous American whiskey making state of Kentucky.  The whiskey was originally made in the early 1800s in New Orleans by The Sazerac Company, which was owned by entrepreneur Thomas H. Handy. It was designed to be the house whiskey in his business The Sazerac Coffee House, which is the birthplace of the popular Sazerac cocktail. The Sazerac Company was purchased by Buffalo Trace in 1992 and they have produced the whiskey at their distillery ever since.

The striking award winning bottle was created by the US design agency SPAR. They used the influence of antique bottles found in The Getz Bourbon Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky to design a stunning bottle with a mid-1800s period feel. Sazerac Rye is matured for approximately six years and is bottled at a strength of 45% ABV (90° Proof).  It is still relatively difficult to find in the UK but can be found within a small selection of specialist liquor retailers.  It should cost around the £30-35 mark for a 75cl bottle.

In America whiskey is made using a mixture of grain types, most commonly wheat, corn/maize, barley and rye. These are mixed in different proportions and percentages with each other to create the unique recipes for each whiskey.  In Sazerac Rye, as with all rye whiskies, the percentage of rye grain in the mash mixture has to legally be greater than 51%.  Other laws stipulate that rye whiskey must be distilled at an alcohol level less than 80% ABV and that it must be matured for a minimum of two years in new American oak casks.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a real 'wow factor' - it is vibrant with a lovely, promising scent. There are initial aromas of sweet vanilla, fresh coconut, tangy orange zest, sweet honey and robust bittersweet cereals.  The vibrancy is highlighted by plenty of woody and spicy notes that grip your nostrils - cinnamon bark, nutmeg, sandalwood, cedarwood, toasted almonds.  On the palate, this spiciness continues unabated with an initial wave of drying woodiness.  It replicates the aromas from the nose very closely and much like on the nose, these notes grip the palate. The fragrance that comes from it in the mouth is almost overwhelming. Then comes another wave of sweet orange, coconut, something floral and plenty of honey, all of which balance the prominent spice notes.  The combination is challenging and intense but delicious.  The finish is dry, spicy and bittersweet.  Plenty of the rye grains are present here, along with the wood spices, which leaves your mouth watering.

What's the verdict?
Sazerac Rye is a deliciously vibrant and expressive whiskey which sets you a challenge from the first moment that you encounter it.  It is intense and has a lovely combination between the dry, spicy, sweet and bittersweet elements, which are all battling for your attention.  Having not tried many rye whiskies, we cannot really say if these are typical notes for the genre but it has made us want to sample others.  To be fair, the whiskey is a little hard work on its own and seems perfectly suited for mixing in such cocktails as the Sazerac or Old Fashioned.

1 comment:

Scotch Cyclist said...

I share your thoughts and praise for this particular whiskey. It represents a very different proposition indeed, but the aroma in particular is simply stunning. I, too, will be looking out for rye whiskeys in the future.