Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
Thank you to each WBSE group member who voted in our poll for your favorite whiskey release of 2017! With polling now closed, we'll take time to highlight the top three vote-getters, and share our own reviews of them. The first of the three winners chosen by you: Col. E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon. Buffalo Trace has set a precedent of using the E.H. Taylor label for specialty releases in the past, and 2017 saw them do so again with this oddity, which uses four grains in its mash bill, rather than the industry standard of three grains.
Remember that in order to be a bourbon, the whiskey must contain at least 51% corn. Most bourbons contain quite a bit more corn than this, with rye or wheat usually forming the next highest percentage, followed by malted barley. Rarely has a bourbon been released that contains both rye and wheat grain in the mash.
Col. E.H. Taylor Four Grain was released by Buffalo Trace in April of 2017, with at least one more batch slated to be released again this Spring. Beyond that, it is unclear if this will continue to be released annually. It was received with a myriad of praise, and has drawn several accolades and awards over the past several months. Before we move into the review, we'll let Buffalo Trace itself tell you a bit more about this release in its own words, straight from its website.
- Undisclosed mash of corn (at least 51%), rye, wheat, and malted barley
- Aged exclusively in Buffalo Trace's Warehouse C
- 12 years old according to the official press release (distilled in 2005)
- Bottled in bond (see what all this entails)
- Filled into barrels at 104 proof
- Bottled at 50% ABV (100 Proof)
Nose: Heavy. Sticky toffee, a hefty dose of baking spice, and charcoal. There’s also a fair amount of nose tickle. After a short rest, vanilla bean, spiced cherry, and dry hay notes develop. Enjoyable and balanced.
Palate: Moderate entry burn, which dissipates to reveal tart cherries, oak, spiced toffee, and vanilla bean. After a few seconds on the tongue, an additional note of citrus – like blood orange – appears. Equal parts sweet/spice/dry. Very well balanced.
Finish: Drying. Tart cherry, fruit skins, dry oak, vanilla. Lapses out of balance for the first time as it fades, with a singular note of fairly bitter charcoal.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try! The aroma and flavor are tremendous, but the dram is brought down just a bit by the bitterness on the finish. This is an extremely versatile and well rounded bourbon, with something in it for just about anyone.
As far as limited releases go, this was a good value when it first came out and could be had for around the MSRP of $80. Since the awards started piling up and the supply on store shelves started getting sparse, this bourbon's secondary value has skyrocketed and flippers seem to be finding buyers for well over $200. I would not recommend it at that price, but I'll be looking forward to this Spring's release to hopefully snag a bottle at retail, and you should be too.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.