Buffalo Trace Distillery is honoring former owner E. H. Taylor Jr. with the sixth in a limited release named for the innovative distiller, a small-batch, bottled-in-bond, 100-proof bourbon whiskey, which is on store shelves now.
It is quite a complex Bourbon with a wide spectrum of tasting notes. At about $40, the whiskey, called Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch Bourbon, is also far more affordable than the others in the series (e.g. the last release, Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey sold for about $70).
Kris Comstock, the Buffalo Trace Bourbon marketing director, says he expects it to be easier to find at retail and in bars as well. Comstock also didn't rule out the possibility of further Taylor releases: "Much planning goes into every whiskey we make, as it takes years to age these whiskies properly. We have many experimental whiskeys in the works. Perhaps some will be released under the Col. E.H. Taylor label. We might earmark such whiskeys for Taylor, if and when the taste is developing into something we really like."
This most recent issue is an especially apt memorial for Taylor as he was instrumental in creating the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897. The distinction bottled-in-bond indicates that a spirit is at least 100 proof, comes from one season and one distiller at one distillery and has been aged for a minimum four years under federal bond. The creator of Old Taylor whiskey was driven to fight for the act because of the preponderance of counterfeit straight whiskey that haunted the market at the time.
Furthermore, the whiskey comes from Warehouse C, a brick warehouse that Taylor built in 1881 and had climate controlled. All the Bourbon was dumped from a batch coming from the sixth floor where it spent seven years.
While most whiskey rickhouses in Kentucky are made of metal and unheated, warehouse heating was one of Edmund Haynes Taylor's many innovations. As a banker Taylor owned interests in at least seven distilleries in his life (1830-1923) two of which, OFC and Carlisle, were located on the Frankfort, Kentucky, property that now contains Buffalo Trace. The label Old Taylor went through many owners after Taylor relinquished it, but was brought back to Frankfort in 2009, when the Buffalo Trace owner, Sazerac, acquired it from Jim Beam.
Buffalo Trace began creating the commemorative collection in 2011 with a series that includes Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, Barrel Proof Bourbon and Straight Rye Whiskey, all of which are packaged with a vintage label and in canister reminiscent of Taylor's bottles from one hundred years ago.
(Cigar pairings on next page)
Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch Bourbon (100 proof or 50 percent alcohol by volume, $39.99)
APPEARANCE: Deep amber. Thick quick legs.
NOSE: Bears a complex aroma of caramel, maple syrup, hard candy, exotic fruit and even a hint of Borderies Cognac.
PALATE: Caramel follows into the mouth where it develops honey, anise, spice more fruit (berries) and even a slight floral character.
FINISH: The sweet, long finish smacks of exotic fruit and anise.
CIGAR PAIRING: Camacho Liberty 2012 ($16.70, 91 points, September 25 issue of Cigar Insider) Contoured with a bulbous middle and tapered foot, this cigar imparts a rich combination of coffee bean, complex woods and dried fruit to the palate. With the whiskey, the cigar gets even woodier and rounder with a certain chewy quality. The Bourbon doesn't do as well in the bargain, giving up its sweetness and getting a bit tart.
Tatuaje Little Monster Wolfie (Only available in special Little Monsters box set that retails for $75, unrated) A torpedo pyramid with exposed filler at the foot, this is a somewhat charred cigar, but still full and lush, with sweet and spicy smoke and notes of coffee. Each partner in this pairing got as good as it gave. The cigar's charms were intensified and it took on some nuttiness as well. The whiskey got fuller and rounder with nougat and more caramel.