Apricot | Green apple | Honey | Cinnamon sugar | Vanilla cream | Oak | Excellent
Aged oak | Butterscotch | Rye spice | Soft leather | Buttery mouthfeel
Toasted oak | Slightly astringent | Faint dank oak | Rye spice | Allspice | Weakest part of the sip
Sazerac 18 Year has certainly gone through some growing pains since the last of the legendary “steel tanked batch” dried up in 2015. It was hard to say goodbye, but it has allowed the brand to ebb and flow more than it was ever allowed to in the past. The result has seen Sazerac 18 Year reach its arguably lowest point ever, and even when it seemed like it might be reaching for past graces, it fell short there too. While the brand certainly deserves all of the time it needs to find its new groove, every year, there’s wishful hoping that this is the year Sazerac 18 Year comes roaring back.
In many ways, Sazerac 18 Year finds its best footing since 2016. The nose is wonderfully expressive, instantly transporting me back to the steel tanked years. This is largely due to the whiskey returning to the classic Sazerac 18 Year profile. There aren’t any hard left turns here, which will satisfy diehards of the old batch and newcomers hoping to taste what all the fuss was about. If it wasn’t for its astringent finish, this rye would be firing on all fronts. Perhaps it spent too much time in the barrel (this year’s release was aged for an extra 6 months). Despite that, it is Sazerac 18 Year’s best showing post steel tanked batch. There is a lot to really enjoy here, but for a brand that used to go toe to toe with Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, it still has some working out to do before it’s back in its old fighting form again. That said, the elements are all present: classic rich nose and an elegant flavor profile with pitch perfect balance. If Buffalo Trace is able to further dial this in a few more notches, the Saz will finally have its groove back.