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2020 brought about many big changes to the world around us but one of the constants that kept whiskey drinkers happy through a challenging year was another stellar Buffalo Trace Antique Collection lineup. Thomas H. Handy, the powerhouse rye of the group, got particular attention early on so I naturally had to see what the fuss was about. Distilled in the spring of 2014, this whiskey aged in warehouses N, M, and K on a variety of floors for 6 years before being bottled at 129.0 proof.
For more information than you could ever want to know about this particular release, check out the fact sheet for Thomas H. Handy 2020.
I find Thomas H. Handy to be the most consistent release of the entire Antique Collection. It may not always be my favorite of the group each year but it doesn’t experience noticeable swings in flavor from year to year like some of the other bottles in the range and it always delivers an enjoyable experience. How does 2020’s offering stand up to previous years?
|Nose||Fruit forward in the form of cherries, raspberries, and red grapes. There’s a prominent chocolate note here that sits side by side with the big blast of vanilla you’d expect from a rye. Spiciness comes from cinnamon and allspice. I also notice a distinct flaky apple turnover note that’s really cool. It’s fruity, sweet, and buttery.|
|Taste||Way sweeter than expected. Caramel, creme brûlée topping, baking spice, really nice oak influence, just a hint of herbal notes, some earthiness, and toasted marshmallow. Stewed orchard fruits complete the package.|
|Finish||The earthiness and oak continue from the palate along with some white pepper, more vanilla, toffee, and dark chocolate are among the last notes to fade. The finish is a bit on the short side and that’s just about the only knock I have on this pour. There’s so little heat here that I’d be hard pressed to believe this was over 120 proof if I didn’t know any better.|
|Overall Thoughts||In my opinion, Thomas H. Handy has always been the most consistent release in the antique collection lineup. It’s usually not my favorite stacked against GTS and WLW but it’s always consistently good. This year is a clear step up though. It’s sweet, fruity, spicy, and earthy in perfect harmony. Everything has its place here and it makes this whiskey dangerously easy to drink. A brilliantly executed rye whiskey that showcases exactly what Sazerac Rye should be.|