Thomas H. Handy Rye – Review

Thomas H. Handy RyeThomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey – 2009 Release

129 Proof

Price Point: $55 – $65 for 750 ML

Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery



The past two weeks, I have posted reviews from Sazerac’s Antique Collection.  In case you missed it, I reviewed George T. Stagg first and Eagle Rare 17 Year Old second.  Both are bourbons and very good bourbons at that.

Thomas H. Handy differs greatly.  This is one of two rye whiskeys in the Antique Collection, with the other being the unmistakable Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye.  This rye, however, is different than your average rye.  Clearly the proof is a little intimidating, at 129 (64.5%).  But, that doesn’t mean you only taste the alcohol.  It actually packs that much more flavor, creating a nose, taste, and finish unlike any other.



Taking a whiff of Handy is overwhelming.  It’s packed with all kinds of dessert scents; candy corn, apple pie, and cake frosting.  Truly a nose for your sweet-tooth.

The taste is big, bold, and sweet!  My dad has described this whiskey as “a taste of Christmas”.  And by that, he means that, as the nose suggests, it’s full of holiday treats.  I’m not a huge fan of rye whiskey, but this one doesn’t highlight the rye like many of its peers do.

The burn will stay with you for a bit, but fade along with the sweetness of the taste.


Rating & Recommendations

Thomas H. Handy is a great whiskey, but far too intense (in both proof and flavor) to be enjoyed more than a couple times a year.  I give this rye whiskey an 82 out of 100.

It’s pretty tough drinking this stuff neat, but I think ice would freeze the flavor a bit.  A splash of water cools the burn while keeping the flavors intact.

Stay tuned next week for my review of William Larue Weller Bourbon.




2 pings

  1. Ryan, I am upset by your review of Thomas H. Handy. I was perfectly content “knowing” that I don’t really like rye whiskey, but you have made me want to try this one! More sweet and less rye is exactly what I feel like straight rye needs, and it sounds like this one has it. I do NOT need another expensive whisky on an already long list of expensive whiskies I want to try 😛

      • Ryan on January 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm
      • Reply

      I do apologize, Ryan. I’ll try to review bland rye whiskeys from now on…

      Only kidding! Yes, this is a rye worth drinking if you’re not usually into rye whiskeys. Luckily for you, the Antique Collection only comes out once a year (usually in October/November in the great state of PA), so you wouldn’t have a chance to blow your money on this for another 9-10 months anyway!


      1. Alas, the 2011 release is still available in PA, believe it or not. Check out the online-only selections under “American Whisky” on the website. Luckily (kindof) I promised that I would not buy any more whisky until April, so it’ll probably be gone by then (don’t worry, I’ve got plenty to last me until I can buy again!).

  1. […] every year.  The collection includes Eagle Rare 17 Year Old, William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy Rye, Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye, and George T. Stagg.  These whiskeys are world-renowned for their […]

  2. […] Sazerac’s Antique Collection.  I have reviewed George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old, and Thomas H. Handy.  Today I’m reviewing William Larue Weller, an uncut/unfiltered bourbon named for a pioneer […]

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