There are few whiskeys that I truly like and will happily drink without mixing. Similar to my affinity to rye beers, I tend to appreciate the flavor of rye whiskey. So, when I began my journey into craft cocktails, I knew that I would eventually foray into the branch based on whiskey and bourbon for which I did not particularly care. I figured that starting with a rye would bridge the gap between my beer tastes and whiskey… and I think I was right.
The Best Thing You’re Not Drinking: Sazerac Whiskey
Despite all the research I had done on whiskey prior to heading to the liquor store, I had not thought to look into Sazerac whiskey. Despite having the same name as the classic Sazerac Cocktail, I knew nothing more about it. Of course, when I saw it sitting on the shelf, I deviated from any other plan and grabbed a bottle. As it turns out, it was also one of the cheapest. And yes, apparently there is a relation between the Sazerac whiskey and the cocktail, though the original cocktail called for Sazerac Cognac. The replacement with rye is a more recent invention. If you want more information on that, check out Sazerac’s page. That isn’t important right now, anyway.
The specific version I’m talking about here is the Sazerac 6-year which has no identifying marks other than the Sazerac name. It is distilled at Buffalo Trace, a fine family of whiskeys and bourbons. In order to be called rye whiskey in the United States, the mash bill must contain at least 51% rye. The flavor profile tends toward pepper and spice.
Rye itself went out of style some time ago, but it has made a recent come back on the tail of the craft cocktail movement. It was original to many drinks, including the Manhattan before being replaced by bourbon. Some might argue that rye is a fad, but I don’t really see the point in caring. Good drinking is good drinking.
Sazerac Whiskey Review
So what is it about Sazerac that makes it worth your time and money? First, it is approachable. Despite being 90-proof, the heat isn’t going to knock you over or mask the well-rounded flavor profile. I would certainly consider this an entry-level rye, and a great one at that. I drink it served with a single ice cube. There’s a nice sweetness on the nose to accompany the spice, with hints of brown sugar, orange peel, and heat. The flavor is leather, cinnamon and nutmeg, and it goes down only a touch hot.
For those trying to find a relatively inexpensive whiskey for the liquor cabinet for themselves or guests, I don’t think you can go wrong with Sazerac whiskey. A more discerning palate might go for something a bit older and more refined, but you won’t embarrass yourself serving this bad boy regardless.
Have you tried Sazerac whiskey? Is there something we should try? Let us know in comments!