Thomas H. Handy Rye Review

Thomas H Handy Rye Review

Thomas H. Handy Rye is basically just cask strength Baby Saz. Aged for 6 years, the 2015 edition of the Thomas H. Handy Rye is a “bigger” version of the always lovely Sazerac Rye which has been a longtime favorite of mine for both sipping and mixing. While it’s been long speculated that Buffalo Trace’s rye mashbill is likely just at, or barely above, the legal minimum of 51% rye it still manages to create some of that lovely spice rye lovers like myself enjoy. So let’s see how the cask strength version plays out shall we?

Thomas H. Handy Rye Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Buffalo Trace
Mashbill: Rye mash
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 6 years
ABV: 63.45%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Batch: 2015

Price: $80 (MSRP)

Thomas H. Handy Rye Review

Nut brown

Peanut brittle, spice, buttery toffee, light bit of wood and a complex dark sweets underpinning accompanied by light notes of caramel, molasses, maple and a light bit of astringency.

The palate mimics elements of the nose, but with different layers of dominance. Complex dark sweets start off followed by notes of wood, char, spice and a light bit of fruit accompanied again by a light astringency.

Long fade layered with wood, dark sweets, spice and an astringent soapiness thats starts low but builds as it fades.

Decently balanced till the finish, rich full body and a smooth warm feel.

The 2015 Thomas H. Handy Rye is, for the most part, good. The complex dark sweets (caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, etc.) get nicely balanced out by the more rustic wood and spice notes except on the finish where it fades to a ball of astringent soapiness. There’s no question that there’s a lot to like about this year’s Thomas H. Handy Rye despite the finish and it’s a nice counterpart to the regular Sazerac Rye release which is basically just a cut version of this but is more nuanced.

On the subject of water, adding only a splash of water to this 126.9 proof monster didn’t help open it up much or dissipate the astringency until I had watered it down to what I suspect was the typical 90 proof. That finish is what kept it out of the A- range.

Still, the 2015 Thomas H. Handy Rye is a decent whiskey and one that’s almost worth waiting in line at 5 am for. Though still not one I’d pay more than MSRP ($80) for. You could buy several cases of rye that’s just as, if not better, than this for the $400+ that’s asked for it on the secondary market. After all, that’s what whiskey is made for – to taste and drink. It wasn’t made to sit on a shelf just so you can say “I have it”, it was made to be consumed and enjoyed so you can say “I had it”.

SCORE: 87-89/100 (consumed at a tasting, not at home)

2015 Thomas H. Handy Rye Score - Breakdown
  • Nose - 87
  • Palate - 87
  • Finish - 87
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 87


The 2015 Thomas H. Handy Rye is a good whiskey with a lot to offer, except in the finish, and if by some magical occurrence you get the chance to grab a bottle at MSRP it’s well worth the price. Secondary prices, not so much.

Thomas H Handy Rye Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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Filed Under: Rye

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