Happy holidays! Hopefully you all had a wonderful holiday season as we did here at Baseball and Bourbon, sipping fine bourbon by the fire with loved ones. We were spoiled here, with a few new bourbons finding their way into our tasting collection as well as some well loved regulars. I can’t wait to pop the cork on all of them, and today I start with a bottle of Col. E. H. Taylor Jr. Single Barrel.
EH Taylor is one of the many labels produced by our friends at Buffalo Trace. Taylor himself has been referred to as the “father of modern bourbon,” due to his strict adherence to better bourbon and whiskey aging practices and his importance and influence in getting the “Bottled in Bond” Act of 1897 (the Act required that spirits labeled as “Bonded”or “Bottled-in-Bond” must be the product of one distiller at one distillery during one distillation season. It also required that bonded spirits be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof).
Taylor also bought and expanded a distillery on the Kentucky river that survives today as… Buffalo Trace! So when BT launched it’s E. H. Taylor line of whiskeys, it was made up of spirits aged in the actual Taylor warehouses and using the Taylor recipes.
There are a collection of Taylor products – Small Batch, Single Barrel, Barrel Proof, Straight Rye – all of which are aged in the famous Warehouse C on the Buffalo Trace campus, and most considered exceptional. So how does this stories bourbon hold up?
In short, spectacular. The Col. E. H. Taylor Single Barrel that we sampled was a complex and impressive pour. There is no barrel or batch information on the packaging or bottle, so I can’t note which bottles it shares traits with. There is also no age statement – an internet search came back with anything between 7 and 12 years. Armed with…surprisingly little knowledge, we dove ahead.
(Ed. Note – Buffalo Trace media relations has let me know that the 2014 E. H. Taylor is “between 9-10 years old”)
First of all, the color is quite dark, and made me wonder more about the age. It was a deep amber, more akin to a 15 year old than a 7. It caught me off guard, to be honest.
The nose kept me off guard. There was a sharp bite to the nose – while 100 proof is obviously pretty potent, it had the alcohol burn of a barrel proof. I backed off a bit, and found myself swimming in the scent of vanilla, cinnamon, toasted oak, a hint of butterscotch and, present and growing as the glass opened, black licorice.
The taste presented what the nose hinted to. As a small sip, the EH Taylor Single Barrel has a thick almost creaminess to it, with a good push of corn and buttery caramel on the front. The middle opened up to a spiciness that belies it’s relatively low rye content – cinnamon, all spice, even a bitter dark chocolate, with a peppery, spicy finish.
With a larger sip, the front burns a little more – again that 100 proof seems more like 120 – and while it retains the buttery sweetness in the front, slight bitter in the middle (more oak and tobacco is evident that in the small sip) it has a very long and potent finish, with oak, spice and a hint of peppermint.
The Col. E. H. Taylor is not the most of anything – not the sweetest, or spiciest, or most complex. But it is a well rounded bourbon, easy sipping and very smooth. Perfect for a fire and maybe ushering in the new year?
My rating: 8.5