While working my way through the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection I final got my chance to try some 2011 Thomas H Handy. Like the other offerings from this collection, the excitement and expectations were high. A 6 year old 128.6 proof Rye peaked my interest.
When I first poured the Thomas H Handy into my Glencairn the scent was heavy in dry tobacco more like that from a cigarette more than a pipe. After letting it sit for a few moments strong notes of toffee and dark chocolate. In the background the hint of blackberries is present.
After the first blast of heat, a slight fruitiness becomes noticeable. When the berry flavor fades, the spices take over. Dominated by a light cinnamon and oak tannins the spice is full but not dominating. Instead, the spice enhances the other flavors. As the fruitiness and spices start to fade away, the sweet caramel tones are much more prevalent. Each exhales seems to change between caramel and chocolate. Throughout there is a buttery element that makes Thomas H. Handy very drinkable. Unlike other ryes, the rye does not become the dominating element. Had I not known THH was a rye it would have been difficult to know.
The sweetness is actually stronger at the beginning than at the end of the sip. Even after 7 drops of water the heat remains a constant. At the end the caramel and blackberries combine into a smooth and mellow end. As the last bit of THH hits the back of your taste buds, cinnamon is noticeable. The flavors do seem to last awhile. This was one of the best finishes I’ve had.
This is an enjoyable rye. The one thing it lacked was the strong spice that other ryes possess. It is definitely better than the majority of ryes available today. Thought nothing gave it a signature that made me want some more.
Unlike the most of the other Buffalo Trace Antique Collection offerings the 2011 Thomas H Handy to me was not nearly as complex. This is definitely not a must have. I have tried many ryes that have a more complex flavor profile. At retail, I might buy this but I would not have to hunt it down to have one.