Col. EH Taylor Straight Rye

Class:  Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey

Reviewer:  Andrew Owen

Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye was introduced as a new annual release by Buffalo Trace in 2012.  Intentionally placed in the product line honoring the great 19th century Kentuckian Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr, Buffalo Trace crafted this rye to be more reminiscent of a late-19th century rye whiskey.  Like every whiskey carrying Col. Taylor's name and picture (except the barrel proof bourbon), this whiskey is is bottled in bond in homage to one of Col. Taylor's greatest 19th century whiskey industry achievements. 

Though they don't explicitly state it, Buffalo Trace has crafted this whiskey in the Monongahela style, which traditionally uses a high percentage of rye grain in the mash with little-to-no corn.  This is exactly what you find in this rye - although the exact proportions of the mash bill are not disclosed, Buffalo Trace has told us that this rye is crafted using only rye grain and malted barley - no corn.

This means that Col. EH Taylor Rye does NOT share a mash bill with Buffalo Trace's other rye whiskeys, Sazerac and Thomas H. Handy, which are crafted in a much more Kentuckian style of 51% rye grain with a high percentage of corn.  To my knowledge, as of the writing of this review, there is no other Kentucky-made rye whiskey that does not use any corn in its mash bill.  This means that, for the time being, Col. EH Taylor Rye competes more directly in style with the likes of MGP ryes and new craft Pennsylvania ryes such as Dad's Hat.


  • 100 Proof (50% ABV)
  • No age statement (allegedly around 9 years old)
  • Aged exclusively in Warehouse C
  • Mash contains only rye and malted barley

Nose:  Sweet and fruity with subtle spices.  Tart cherry and heavy toffee dominate, with accenting notes of clove and briny dill pickle juice.  After a rest, the dill gets more dominant, and additional notes of plum and tobacco appears.  Somewhat funky.

Palate:  Mild entry burn that fades quickly.  Hot pepper-flecked toffee (like toffee with cayenne in it), and a confused array of fruits and spices.  Clove, cardamom, dill, pine, orange peel, and tart cherry syrup.  Full bodied.  Somewhat resinous.

Finish:  Vanilla, cinnamon, anise, fruit skins, sapling wood, and chocolate covered coffee beans.  Interesting, complex, and lingering.

Score:  79/100

Buying Recommendation:  Worth trying a pour.  If my tasting notes didn't explicitly betray this, the flavors of this whiskey are all over the place.  It could be summed up as a tasty hot mess.  There's alot going on in this whiskey, but the presentation is chaotic and a tad confusing.  That being said, the whiskey is tasty and gets bonus points for its uber-uniqueness.  This is worth exploring if for no other reason than that you'll likely not find many other widely available American whiskeys that taste like it.  At $65-80 for a bottle though, I strongly suggest you try it before you buy it.

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

55:  Average

60-69:  Better than average

70-79:  solid/good

80-89:  excellent

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.


All Time Favorite Whisky: Balblair 1990 2nd Edition

Daily Drinkers: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Springbank 10 Year

A former craft beer enthusiast, Andrew fell in love with whiskey after tasting a pour of Laphroaig 10 year and being amazed that such a flavor could exist within a liquid. With a college background in biochemistry and a passion for history, Andrew quickly grew to love the science of whiskey making, the history of different distilleries, and the exploration of flavors within a dram. To Andrew, whiskey is more than just a drink; it is a fascinating mix of art and science – an intricate beauty to be pondered and appreciated. Besides this, Andrew has found that a nice bottle of whiskey has an amazing ability to bring people together and unite people from all different backgrounds together as friends.

While Andrew can be found drinking any style of whiskey from any region around the world, he has a particular affinity for spice-laden bourbons and coastal scotches. Besides drinking whiskey, Andrew also enjoys weight lifting, road biking, and cooking.

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