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Dec 1, 2011 11:28 AM

Rye/bourbon : which is best for gift?

He likes Islay single malts esp Laphroaig, so he can take the strong stuff. but also appreciates smoothness, depth ..
Which would you think best?
Thomas Handy Sazerac rye Buffalo Trace
Pappy 23 yrs
Black Maple Hill 16 yrs
Thank you!

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  1. First of all, only one of those is a rye, the Thomas Handy. The other two are bourbons -- and of those the Pappy is wheat flavored and (I believe) the Black Maple is rye flavored.

    Black Maple Hill does, by the way, have an 18 year old rye that is supposedly quite nice if you're looking for a rye.

    Beyond that, price might be a valid concern, given that Pappy 23 is over twice as expensive (at least in this area) than either of the other two options.

    If what you saw was the Black Maple Hill 18 rather than the 16, then I would go with it over the Handy. Although I've never tried the Black Maple Hill rye I have been impressed by a couple of its bourbons, and the rye is very well reviewed. I have tried the Thomas Handy, which is young and fairly hot. It's very interesting, especially for people who are into rye, but for a gift for someone who doesn't already drink it I'd personally go with something smoother and a bit more refined.

    7 Replies
    1. re: davis_sq_pro

      thank you for your expertise!
      what would you expect as price points on any/all of these?
      any other suggestions most welcome.
      Thank you!

      1. re: jochaima

        Looks like you're in my area (Boston), so price is easy: more expensive than everywhere else in the country :-)

        $75 or so for the Handy and Black Maple Hill products, and maybe $200 for the Pappy 23. (If I recall -- been a while since I've seen that for sale anywhere.)

        If you know somewhere that has the Handy in stock they may have Sazerac 18. This is a FANTASTIC rye that is the same whiskey as the Handy but aged for 18 years rather than only 5 or 6. Actually please let me know if you see it -- I haven't gotten my hands on a bottle of the 2011 edition yet. It should be priced identically to the Handy.

        At this level I also really like Rittenhouse 21, which will set you back about $140.

        Finally, Woodford Reserve just released a pair of special edition 100% ryes (Master's Collection 2011). I'm really looking forward to trying those -- and I think they'd make for a great gift.

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          I am in Boston - will do re: Sazerac 18, but not too hopeful. It's the one every place I ask says "no can do" right off the bat.

          1. re: jochaima

            It might be worth it to see what the NH stores carry. IIRC you can go online and see the stock and prices of each individual store.

          2. re: davis_sq_pro

            somebody on ebay sells the sazerac 18 (just cough-cough the bottle - the contents happen to be in it) for $100-110 plus $20 shipping so a bit much compared to shop price

            Anybody try Berkshire Mountain Bourbon?
            ok reviews here not raves though and want to get a nice gift!

            1. re: jochaima

              You mentioned Woodford Collection 2011 - would you also recommend of Woodford Reserve Masters Collection "Four Grain" 92.4* ?
              Jefferson's Presidential 18Yr?
              thank you

              1. re: jochaima

                I've not tried any of the Woodford Masters Collection bottlings to date. But here's a review from "sku," who regularly posts on this forum:


                I have a only shady recollection of trying the Jefferson's 18 but I do recall that I was not blown away. I think it struck me as quite similar to the Jefferson's Reserve, at twice the price. (I do like the Jefferson's Reserve, by the way -- a very rich, lush whiskey, a bit on the sweet side. Maybe not a great choice for a scotch drinker.)

      2. Given that he likes the big bold scotch, definitely get him the Thomas H Handy. He will enjoy the spiciness and nice long finish of this exceptional whiskey.

        3 Replies
        1. re: yalc

          Thank you everyone.
          I tried to get the Sazerac 18. Brix in Boston thought at first they might be able to special order it, and then found out from their distributor they won't be able to get any for around 6 months. Brix has the Black Maple Hill 16 year old Bourbon for $150. And reports: "the Black Maple Hill 18 year old Bourbon is no longer available. Pappy Van Winkle is highly allocated and we cannot say when we’ll have it in stock. Rittenhouse 21 year old Rye is also no longer available, but we do carry the Rittenhouse 100 proof Rye for $24."

          Bauer on Newbury St Boston said they couldn't do Sazerac 18 but did as of last week have a Thomas Handy at $80, and won't be getting any more of it this year.

          In the end I got the Thomas Handy for $75 at Brix. I think it might have been their last one.
          I'm sure he'd enjoy any of the ones suggested here - as they say, "it's all good"!

          1. re: jochaima

            Next time you're in the mood to buy a gift, if you're up for a drive, Joyal's in West Warwick, RI always has a fantastic selection. Alas, no Sazerac 18 last time I was there.

            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              I am up in Warwick every July for are Joyals and the RI liquor store prices?