Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. Barrel Proof

On a hot, summer Saturday afternoon after a lengthy brunch on the 14th Street side D.C., our group of friends decided to venture around (maybe a tipsy decision) to find our next watering hole to continue our drinking journey. It was so hot this day that I convinced my girlfriend (who accepts my enthralling love for whiskey, but doesn't necessarily support it) to "liquor shop hop" on our trek through the city. I've had pretty good luck finding some gem bourbons and whiskies at decent prices, but this area was a somewhat new, and we needed the breaks in air conditioned rooms, so it worked out. I didn't find the Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof during the hop. I actually found an Elmer T. Lee for a steal at $50. I'm not an ETL fan, per say. However, it's getting harder and harder to find these days, let alone for the price it was offered. No. I found myself ordering the CEHT Barrel Proof at the mainstay whiskey haven, Jack Rose Dining Saloon.

From the distiller:

"Crafted from hand-selected barrels, this bourbon is bottled directly from the barrel; uncut and unfiltered at more than 125 proof.  It reflects the way whiskey was produced in the days before Prohibition, when Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. was the owner of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Drawn from barrels aged in warehouses constructed over a century ago under Taylor's watchful eye, the taste is smooth, yet powerful and uncompromising, just like its namesake."

As you may or may not be able to tell by now, I'm a big fan of Buffalo Trace whiskies, and I'm especially fond of the CEHT series. I'm in love with the CEHT Single Barrel and it is a goal of mine to have tried the complete line of CEHT whiskies. Here's to knocking another off the ole' list:

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Name: Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. - Barrel Proof

Proof: 129.6

Age: No age statement. (Probably in the 7-9 year range).

Year: 2014

Delivery: Neat.

Color: Deep honey, light maple syrup. 

Nose: I got a peppered whipped cream (odd, yes). The aroma devolves into honey and floral, lavender notes, with a hint of warm french toast.

Impression: This bourbon comes hard and heavy on the front, with big, bold spice delivering hints of vanilla and pepper. Another odd note was a resemblance of fluoride antiseptic (reminding me of a prescription fluoride toothpaste I had to use during my teen years in braces). You do get some of those florals in the end, with good bit of spearmint and a touch of spicy rye.

Overview: I actually didn't get the prominent oak flavor I'd come to expect from other CEHT bourbons. The whiskey advisor at Jack Rose recommended this as a milder take than the 2013 Barrel Proof version. The finish is very long and a tad over done for me. The heat takes it out of the realm of simplicity that the Small Batch offers, but takes it way farther than the Single Barrel, and complicates the taste, not entirely in a good way. I like heat, but it doesn't match the profile, for me. 

Adding water to this bourbon only tames the burn and doesn't open up the flavors as much as I expected. That said, this is still one of the best bourbons you are going to find, especially with and uncut and unfiltered barrel proof whiskey. The folks at Buffalo Trace are doing great things in the whiskey world, and the big bold flavors of the CEHT whiskies is pretty remarkable, really. However, I'm afraid I've become somewhat spoiled (and perhaps bias) toward this whiskey's Single Barrel brethren.

Recommendation: Try it! It's definitely worth exploring. Also, this bourbon will vary slightly from year to year. I only tasted this version (2014), but each year's release should offer subtle variances, which could change my perception as I try future iterations. But I have to go with what I know.

Grade: 3.5 - Excellent. Matched with the other CEHT whiskies, this may actually be my least favorite from the lot. Where the others have clearly defined profiles, that are rich and distinct, I can't exactly put this bourbon in distinctive category. But I cannot hate on this whiskey too much, because at barrel proof, it is still smoother than a lot of other higher proof whiskies on the market, while still doing the CEHT family proud with its full bodied richness and character. I'd expect nothing less.