Had the chance to taste the Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye at Alembic yesterday. I’ve heard great things about this one but I have to admit, rye typically isn’t my favorite. I like the sharp spiciness or the spicy sharpness, but sometimes wish that quality didn’t overwhelm subtler notes as it often does.
The Nose: This has a pretty incredible nose, luscious butterscotch and Brach’s orange caramel candy. There’s a “round”, almost floral, fancy soap-like quality, rose-water, a little lavender. There’s also the requisite vanilla tones. It’s a rich, inviting, almost chewable nose.
The Palate: RYE! Holy crap…rye. After that, there’s a lot more rye. There’s also a fair amount of woodiness, of the oak here, 18 years worth of it. Then some more rye. It all adds up to a rich, very smooth but incredibly sharp rye and oak explosion, but so much so that it overpowered any other flavors that might have been there.
Finish: Looooooooong. Spicy. All that rye sharpness just dances and tingles away on the tongue.
Thoughts: The 2008 Sazerac 18 has received high marks, especially from Jim Murray who proclaimed it his 2010 World Whisky of the Year, so my expectations were pretty high for this one, which I’m guessing was the 2009 bottling (didn’t ever see the bottle). It didn’t really disappoint…though it also did not have me shouting from the mountaintop. To me, it’s a little one-dimensional and while it does that one dimension fantastically well, it left me looking for a little more complexity. The nose suggested a more intriguing palate, but it’s such a virtuoso balanced display of Rye and Oak, it doesn’t leave much room for anything else.