Age: 7 – 8 years old
Distillery: Old Pot Still Distillery at Buffalo Trace
Master Distiller: Harlen Wheatley
Season: Dead Winter!
Introducing Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon
Recently I had the privilege of meeting with Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley who introduced me to one of the flagship labels of the Sazerac Company Col. E.H. Taylor.
Like most bourbon brands that harken back to the old days, Taylor is named after the famed distiller Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. – a Kentucky native and the adopted grand nephew of 12th U.S. President Zachary Taylor. The Colonel was a business savant, and used his academic and professional background in banking to acquire a distillery in 1869. His operation modernized many of the old ways of making and aging bourbon by introducing copper fermentation tanks, new grain grinding equipment and unique, columnar stills along with climate controlled rick houses for aging bourbon more precisely.
When Col. Taylor began distilling, the bourbon world was far less regulated than what we know today. Distillers added everything from syrup to tobacco to make their bourbons more palatable. In addition to being a savvy businessman, Col. Taylor was politically astute.
He teamed up with Treasury Secretary John G. Carlisle to pass the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897 requiring any spirit labeled as “Bonded”or “Bottled-in-Bond” be the product of one distiller at one distillery during one distillation season. In addition, the Act 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.
For his business acumen and the innovations he brought to the distilling community, Col. E.H. Taylor is considered one of the founding fathers of bourbon. His distillery, named the Old Fire Copper Distillery, would become a successful operation and is the forerunner of today’s Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Before we even get into the tasting notes, can we tip our hats to the bad ass canister that every bottle of Col. E.H. Taylor comes in? The label is reminiscent of an old bank note. (Once upon a time, each bank was allowed to print it’s own money). The canister is to the bourbon what the toy is to the cereal box – for me at least.
To be such a young bourbon (there is no age statement, but the consensus is that the barrel proof is at 8 years old) CEHT is a nice, dark, amber color. Swirling it creates long, syrupy legs – an indicator of a big bodied bourbon.
The nose is anything but syrup. In fact, it is a little musty and unpleasant what with the high alcohol content and the concentration of aromas coming out of the glencairn. Any more alcohol coming out of the glass would singe nose hairs.
Surprisingly, the first sip is rich and sweet. The pepper and smoke is present in a big way, as is the alcohol – which is to be expected. CEHT is made from Buffalo Trace’s Mash Bill #1, meaning it uses 10% rye as the secondary grain. Its definitely noticeable. The full mouth tingle that is often present in rye whiskeys is all there.
CEHT is rough going down, but that finish! To say that the finish is long is an understatement. The viscosity of CEHT is such that all of the flavors stick to your palate, mellowing out into fruit and allspice flavors long after you sip it.
If this bourbon were a person, it would be John Wayne – big, bold, and relentless. CEHT beats your tail from nose to taste, and pats you on the back in the finish.
This is a slow sipper, but because CEHT represents everything a strong bourbon should be, I would be happy serving this to new bourbon drinkers. I love the back story, I love the craftsmen behind Col. E.H. Taylor, and I love the character of Col. E.H. Taylor.
Dont think you are going to sit on the front porch on a hot summer day and sip this one, and dont treat Col. E.H. Taylor as a shooter. This is a dead-of-winter slow sipper. It’s $69 a fifth, and well worth it.
For all it’s flaws (and there are a few), I would give Col. E.H. Taylor Barrel Strength a…
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