Whisky of the week – Sazerac Rye.

New Orleans in a glass.
Bourbon Street and Louis Armstrong, jazz funerals and swamp treacle madness, mercurial Mardi Gras and voodoo chile vengeance, southern baptist purgatory and Basin Street. It’s got the lot.

Sazerac Rye whiskey represents the tradition and history of the antediluvian New Orleans washed away by Katrina that exists today only in film and book and fading memories. For old-timers like me, who loved visiting New Orleans 30 years ago and more, the Disneyfication of the French Quarter is to be lamented. And I know I shouldn’t, but personally, I miss the edginess, the sharp-edged frisson, the eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head on-the-clock alertness that kept you on your toes all the time on Bourbon Street, the ferry to an Algiers dive, or even just strolling along the banks of the Mississippi in the evening glow.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

New Orleans has pedigree and so does Sazerac Rye. Dating from the original French possession, Bourbon Street has been around since 1721, when the French Quarter was the only quarter. Back in the 1800s, long before the frontier was closed, saloons masquerading as coffee houses lined the streets of the racy swamp town, more gator than God. On Royal Street, the Sazerac Coffee House served toddies made with rye whiskey and Peychaud’s bitters, inadvertently creating America’s first cocktail.

Royal Street, New Orleans
Home of the American cocktail and Sazerac Rye

Tasting notes:

A velvety no age-statement straight rye aged from 4 to 6 years bottled at 45% ABV. Light, sweet and spicy citrus, as good neat as it is in cocktails.

The Nose: Aroma of clove and vanilla, sweet with hints of anise and pepper.

The Palate: boiled sweets, spices and subtle bitter-sweet orange.

The Finish: smooooth spicy, with a  hint of liquorice.

If you’re new to rye whiskey, this is a great place to start.

Roadtested at Milroy’s, London, England