Editor’s note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Sazerac. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In a certain sense, the Sazerac company has two historical histories. At the end of the 19th century, the company grew from its namesake coffeehouse into a major liquor distributor in New Orleans, LA. Today, Sazerac naturally maintains its connection to the Big Easy, but also maintains a portfolio of quality bourbon brands and eight distilleries across North America and operations around the world.
This brings us to the second story – that of the former distilling giant Seagram Ltd. Seagram’s also traces its history back to the mid-19th century, with the establishment of a distillery in Waterloo, Ontario in 1857. The business and its assets were acquired by Samuel Bronfman’s Distillers Corporation in 1928. Seagrams flourished during the blackout period in the United States (in part by taking advantage of the convenient location of the French port of Saint Pierre in order to direct booze to North American cities) and became a household name in the 1950s with Bronfman still at the helm.
The Sazerac and Seagrams companies maintained business ties throughout the 20th century, with Sazerac acquiring several assets from Seagram before the company’s demise in 2000. Sazerac worked to establish a claim to Seagrams’ heritage in whiskey Canadian and recently resumption of whiskey production at the Old Montreal Distillery. This connection is particularly strongly expressed in their annual release of mixes named in honor of Samuel Bronfman.
There is poetry in the fact that the second annual edition of Mr Sam de Sazerac was mixed by Seagram’s final master mixer, Drew Mayville, to commemorate Bronfman who, in addition to his business accomplishments, also served as the company’s first master mixer. The blend comes from Sazerac’s extensive stock of American and Canadian whiskeys and was first launched to great acclaim last year.
Tasting notes: Mister Sam de Sazerac
Vital info: 122.6 Evidence. Mixed, no age statement. Suggested retail price $250.
Appearance: It has a dark amber color with a fair amount of red tint – I stop short of describing it as “copper”.
Nose: From my initial notes: “Wait, is the vanilla spicy?”. Mister Sam has one of the most complex aromas I have come across. It’s somewhere between panettone and a freshly opened bag of good tobacco.
Palace: That’s relatively high proof, but any heat is seriously loaded up front. It comes on warm but opens on a really expensive palate of dried stone fruits and candied nuts with just a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. There is a sweetness that ties these flavors together and facilitates a smooth transition to a toasty flan finish. Each of these phases unfolds against a sustained background of very subtle oak, blending into a long tannic tobacco finish.