Sazerac Rye 6 Background
When people think Sazerac usually it’s the cocktail. In fact, the Sazerac stakes the claim of America’s first cocktail. The next reference is likely the whiskey used to make that cocktail, which is usually a rye whiskey. Specifically Sazerac Rye 6 whiskey. That’s all relatively recently history, however. Sazerac Rye 6 only became the official booze for a Sazerac in 2000. Before that it simply called for rye whiskey going back to 1873. Before that, it was a French brandy named… Sazerac.
All this started in 1838 when Antoine Amedie Peychaud was mixing up brandy toddies. If you recognize the name Peychaund, it’s the famous brand of bitters. That Peychaud Bitters would later become a key ingredient in the brandy-based Sazerac starting in 1850.
The Sazerac would become the bread and butter of the Sazerac Coffeehouse (Bar), which was named after that French brandy. Owner Sewell Taylor made the brandy-based Sazerac the house drink and it gained a strong following. Then Thomas H Handy bought the Sazerac Coffeehouse and its brands. Not long after, the cocktail officially transitioned to rye whiskey and marks the beginning of a liquor empire that would eventually become known as the Sazerac Company. Kind of interesting all this American whiskey lore started with a French brandy.
Anyway, now on to the whiskey itself. Sazerac Rye is widely called Sazerac 6 Year Old or simply Baby Saz. There’s no age statement on the bottle, but the website still lists it as 6-years-old so we’ll run with that. This whiskey shares the same name of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old, which is a part of the Buffalo Trace annual Antique Collection. While they have the same name, they’re actually different recipes. Buffalo Trace has had Sazerac Rye 18 held in stainless steel tanks for years now and Sazerac Rye 6 is a different product.
Six years old. Bottled at 45%. 51% rye, 39% corn, and 10% barley. MSRP – $26.99 (2016 Price)
Fruity. Cinnamon. Clove, caramel. Mint. Some Pine. Apples. Smells pretty wonderful.
Light, fruity, and crisp. A good amount of sweetness in this rye with caramel flavor. Rye flavors are there with mint, some spiciness, and evergreen. A little alcohol burn.
Sazerac Rye 6’s nose I think is more complex than the flavor here, but there’s a lot to like, depending what you’re looking for in a rye. Sazerac Ray is not a rye monster as the rye components seem to be held in check with other flavors. It plays more like a big rye Bourbon. It’s pleasantly sweet and fruity with nice younger rye character, but not too young. Seems well-rounded.
I think Sazerac Rye 6 is a pretty nice pour, but may not be what people are looking for in a rye whiskey these days. They probably want more rye punch of either something younger or made with more rye, or something more complex in an older rye. Sazarac Rye might be a bit of a tweener in this regard. If you’re willing to enjoy it for what it is, however, it’s pretty nice.
The price is right and fits in well with some other “barely legal” ryes in both flavor and price.
Buy a Bottle – 3.0 out of 5.0
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)
Buying Options and Further Research
In this category I’ll group Sazerac Rye 6 with Wild Turkey 81 Rye, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, and Old Overholt. All are priced similarly and have similar profiles. Wild Turkey 101 Rye is probably my favorite of this group and Sazerac Rye 6 is my second.