COLONEL E. H. TAYLOR JR. SINGLE BARREL
After my roommate introduced me to the Colonel E. H. Taylor (CEHT) line of bourbons with, grabbing a bottle of the CEHT Small Batch a few months prior, I'd been on the hunt for something to improve upon the already excellent batch offering. I thought the obvious next step would be to get my hands on the single barrel. It stayed elusive for a while, but I was finally able to get a taste thanks to the fine folks at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. Since they have every whiskey known to man (so it seems), I guess I had spent enough money there that the whiskey advisor decided (since I was probing enough about the CEHT Single Barrel) that he'd just give me a taste to shut me up. And shut me up it did!
Note: I must preface this review and state that the CEHT Single Barrel is probably my favorite procurable Buffalo Trace whiskey. It's simply a fantastic bourbon.
From the distiller:
"Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased what is now called Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today, including climate controlled aging warehouses. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel is aged exclusively in Warehouse C, which was built by Taylor in 1881 and proven to be an excellent aging warehouse. Each barrel is hand-picked and Bottled in Bond at 100 proof to honor its namesake."
After getting my first taste, I went on a wild goose chase around D.C. to find my own bottle of the stuff. I found one, moderately priced at $80. I didn't stop there. I found another bottle at a familiar outlet for $95. I bought them both the same day. Ever since, I have yet to find anything that really gets across the tempered heat of a 100 proof whiskey with the amount of richness this bourbon offers. Here goes:
Name: Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. - Single Barrel
Age: No age statement. (I've seen some reviews that state it's between 7 - 9 years) My guess? Probably seven years.
Color: Rich auburn, maple syrup. (If you're familiar with the CEHT Small Batch, this is considerably darker)
Nose: A good amount of fruit, most prominently green apple with a hint of banana nut bread. Theres some cinnamon and oak on the backend.
Impression: On the front this bourbon is rich and viscous. You get a sweet corn and sharp rye as a good follow through, but isn't at all over powering. The back holds a heavy oak and some citrus, with a linger of spicy heat. You no longer get the "heavy" butterscotch profile as you do from the batch version, but it is there.
Overview: This is a damn good bourbon, people. The CEHT Single Barrel packs ample flavor without being overly spicy. The 100 proof fits this whiskey just right, giving you the heat to go along with its rich, caramel goodness. The front to back drinks just how I like it, lots of flavor, rolls over the tongue well with a creep of heat at the end, just to remind you that you're drinking whiskey, after all.
If I have any qualms about this bourbon, it does tend to fall off a bit faster than some of the other Buffalo Trace (BT) offerings in the same Mashbill #1. It reminds me of a bigger, bolder Eagle Rare 10YO. A Blanton's, for instance, seems to be softer overall, but holds force a bit longer.
When you add a little water, you'll find those fruits (granny smith apple, banana nut bread) coming through in the flavor profile. Big, juicy apple slices, with cherry and a hint of mint.
Recommendation: Buy it. Try it first. But then wish you didn't spend the extra $10-20 at the bar, and went a head and added it to your collection. If this were a bit lower in price point, say $50-75, I'd likely make this my "daily driver" bourbon. It does tend to get pricey, but it's worth every penny, IMHO. There's not many things this gets wrong, but so many it gets right!
Grade: 4 - Outstanding. Matched head-to-head with the small batch, which is what put this bourbon over the top for me, there's really no comparison in terms of flavor and depth. Sit this next to the CEHT Small Batch and the nose will tell you everything you need to know about the two, and you will see just how much more this bourbon has to offer than a lot of competitors, in and outside of the BT family. It's a class whiskey and one I will almost certainly keep in my cabinet for some time to come.