Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. was one of the pioneers of the bourbon industry in the late 19th and 20th century. In the 1870's, Taylor purchased a distillery which he called Old Fire Copper (or O.F.C) in Frankfort, KY. He was an innovator in the industry, and was also the driving force behind the Bottled-in-Bond Act which was passed by Congress in 1897. Today, Taylor's legacy lives on through the Buffalo Trace distillery, which sits on the grounds of the original O.F.C. distillery and can trace is lineage of ownership back to the Colonel.
Buffalo Trace uses the Col. EH Taylor line as a sort of experimental and limited edition label. It has 4 standard releases - Small batch, Single barrel, Straight rye, and Barrel proof - along with several limited edition or one-time releases like Seasoned Wood, Cured Oak, Warehouse C Tornado Survivor, and Four Grain. To pay homage to Col. Taylor, all whiskeys in this line are bottled in bond (except for the Barrel Proof) and are aged exclusively in Warehouse C. The Small batch is the most commonly available of these whiskeys, and can usually be found for $38-45.
- Distilled from Buffalo Trace's "low rye" mashbill #1 (<10% rye).
- Bottled at 50% ABV (100 proof) to coincide with BiB regulations.
- Non-age stated.
- All barrels used were aged in warehouse C.
Nose: Soft vanilla, caramel apple, a dried fruit I can’t quite identify…perhaps raisin? This aromas is soft and inviting. It's not complex, but its very nice. The caramel apple is the highlight here.
Palate: Caramel apple and vanilla are most prominent up front. An oak base provides a nice backdrop. Leather. White chocolate comes in late as the heat fades. Hot apple spice or baked apple crisp come to mind with this one. The bright and lively caramel apple pairs excellently with the smooth vanilla and oak. Coats the mouth with a smooth and slick feel.
Finish: Toffee and lingering hints of the warm caramel apple. Pretty short.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try. I like where this bourbon sits in the current market. Always available, fairly affordable, and clearly better than most on the shelves below it. This competes with Four Roses Single Barrel for the "100 proof $40 bourbon slot" in my cabinet. Great sipped neat (I prefer about 1/2 tsp water with it), but also not so expensive that I feel guilty throwing sugar, bitters, and a cube in with it once in awhile.
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
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