Named after the iconic creator of the historic Old Taylor brand, the Colonel E.H Taylor Jr. line of whiskies are made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery and features some of the most sought-after bourbons on the market today. The brand’s original creator, Colonel E.H Taylor, is a man that’s steeped in bourbon history and tradition. Having purchased the O.F.C Distillery after the end of the Civil War, Taylor went on to revolutionize the way in which bourbon was created, aged, and sold to the public. One of Taylor’s most influential achievements was in championing the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 which helped to protect consumers from sinister whiskey production techniques at the time. Today Buffalo Trace produce several permanent expressions under the Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr brand as well as several very limited one-time expressions. In honour of the history of the brand these whiskies are always Bottled-in-Bond and are bottled and packaged in the same iconic packaging as Colonel E.H. Taylor once bottled his whiskies in.
On an uncharacteristically sunny Friday afternoon in Ireland6, several industry people, media representatives, and whiskey enthusiasts gathered in Dublin’s City Centre for an intimate invitation-only bourbon masterclass led by Buffalo Trace’s Master Blender Drew Mayville. On the menu for the tasting was Buffalo Trace’s namesake Buffalo Trace Bourbon, their 10 year Eagle Rare bourbon, a number of offerings from their very limited Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, and the 2018 release of the Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr Four Grain bourbon. Having had a small 50cl sample of the 2017 release I was eager to taste this release a second time and to see if my thoughts on the 2017 release were the same for the 2018 release. This bourbon was made from a mashbill using corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, aged for 12 years, and bottled at 100 proof.
Name: Colonel E.H Taylor Jr. Four Grain
Age: NAS (Confirmed at least 12 years by Buffalo Trace)
Proof: 100 Proof (50% ABV)
Type: Straight Bourbon
Mashbill: Unknown – features corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley
Producer: Buffalo Trace
Source: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Nose: The nose is floral and fruity with slight caramel, sweet vanilla, dark fruits, earthy rye, and peppery oak as well as hints of bubblegum.
Palate: The palate opens creamy and sweet with caramel and vanilla, followed by rich dark fruit, a wave of earthy rye spice, and ending with a bubblegum-like malt sweetness and slight dry oak
Finish: The finish gives gives a kick of spice followed by cinnamon, dry oak and an aftertaste of burnt caramel and baking spices
This turned out to be quite an interesting and surprising bourbon.When I heard that Buffalo Trace had released a four grain bourbon in 2017 I was very skeptical as to how four different grains would be balanced, especially rye and wheat. The end result, however, was a bourbon that was quite complex and flavourful – albeit a bit light on the palate initially. The 2018 release we’re told is exactly the same bourbon and as such I wasn’t surprised to find a similar experience here, however, knowing what to expect did help to prepare my expectations. The nose again is quite light initially but quickly becomes a balance of floral and fruity, yet spicy and grainy, with the palate and finish following suit. The surprising part was that on the palate you could taste the individual flavours of each of the grains as if they had lined up and were taking turns to showcase their flavours. Corn’s creamy sweetness came first, followed by the familiar red fruit wheat profile from Buffalo Trace, then the earthy spicy rye kicked in, and finally the bubblegum-like malted barley. It was also great to get to try this bourbon again over a year after I first tasted it and this time it was easier to tease apart the contributions from each grain, especially when guided by the expertise of Drew. The entire masterclass was a fantastic experience and trying some of Buffalo Trace’s best bourbons and ryes whilst the master blender guided us through identifying our own tasting notes was a once in a lifetime experience. Drew was an absolute gentleman and his approach to tastings is refreshing. Instead of filling our heads with what we should taste he instead spoke about the grains and the barrels and the influence that they might have on the complexity and experience of the finished product.
Try or Buy?
This 2018 is as good as the 2017 release. If you can obtain either for retail you’re on to a winner for sure. Other alternatives include trying to find it by the ounce, or selling a body part to buy it elsewhere.