2012 Thomas H. Handy Rye: Review and Tasting Notes

Handy Rye

Thomas H. Handy Rye Whiskey. It’s another one of those Buffalo Trace Antique Collection limited annual releases that falls under the category of “if you can find a bottle and can afford it, you should buy it.” That is if you want to experience what is one of the most expressive powerhouses of rye whiskey that there is today.

2012 Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
132.4 Proof, Approx. $75 retail

handyRating? WOW. 

132.4. That’s the proof. It sounds high, and it is, but the nose holds its heat in pretty well. Wintergreen and caramel and cinnamon sticks, thin mints and strawberries and juicy red grapes, all kinds of crazy things pouring forth. And I mean crazy. Like “who stuck that Doublemint chewing gum in my caramel-coated strawberry” kinda crazy.

Sipping this stuff neat is doable, but I can’t say I recommend it. It’s like putting jet fuel in your Jaguar, overwhelming the underlying elegance with burn. A good dose of water is all it takes though to bring this baby into a sweet but still muscular harmony. I’m no comic book fan, but enough of you have seen the Avengers to be able to imagine those moments when the Hulk is calm and reflective but still big and brawny, huffing from destroying a few city blocks. That’s Thomas H. Handy after a bit of water, still massively strong but in repose. Those notes from just a whiff carry over into a sip, muscling their way in to every nook and cranny of your tastebuds. POW! BAM! SMASH! I’d call it Thomas H. Handy’s Red Hot Vanilla-Mint Caramel Elixir and Energy Fuel of the Gods.

Would I use this powerful elixir in a cocktail? No. Never. And if you do, I’ll send the Hulk after you to punch your face in.


* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

12 Replies to “2012 Thomas H. Handy Rye: Review and Tasting Notes”

  1. Just had this for the second time tonight, and it’s perfect. A few drops of water last time, but I tried it neat this time, and I could hang with it. All you have to do is sniff for a bit, then coat the tongue, and sit there in awe for the next few minutes. Then repeat.

  2. Saw a bottle of this on the shelf. Uggg Worth $199???? Seems like highway robbery but finding anything in the BTAC could be loads of time consuming trouble on its own.

    1. Do I think it’s worth $199? No. Scarcity of specific bottlings is a problem these days, but there is plenty of interesting rye, and bourbon, etc. out there that may not have the hype but still delivers. Look for some of the Willet ryes for example. They’re not flying off shelves as far as I’ve seen. And while they don’t compare apples to apples to Handy, they are very good. High West Rendezvous Rye, E.H.Taylor, Angel’s Envy, etc. also worth checking out..

  3. Sorry, “It’s like putting jet fuel in your Jaguar”…Jet fuel is kerosene based…better statement would have been “Aviation gas 100 octane”

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