Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch
My first experience with the Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. (CEHT) Small Batch happened about three years ago, when my roommate (who also enjoys the brown water) texted me. "Got a surprise for you when you get home" the text read. There, sitting on the kitchen island, was the signature CEHT canister holding this beauty of a bottle. Admittedly, it was right around the same time I was starting to understand what "rare bourbon" truly meant. So, at this point, I was still in the early stages of educating myself on the finer points of whiskey and bourbon. I didn't fully appreciate what was sitting in front of me at the time. However, after some sipping that shortly followed, I was left scratching my head and asking myself, "Why has it taken me so long to know what this is?"
This was my first experience with the CEHT line of whiskies, and I'm actually elated that the Small Batch was my first go. Since getting my first run with the Small Batch, I've had the pleasure of tasting the Single Barrel, Barrel Proof, Straight Rye, and Cured Oak offerings. All of them are completely unique, yet tried and true to the CEHT brand. However, and I think most would agree, the Small Batch is the entry level whiskey of the family. It also happens to be the most abundant and subsequently easiest to procure, which is rather refreshing, knowing that I don't have to break the bank to or spend hours on end hunting down this fantastic bourbon.
From the distiller:
As founding father of the bourbon industry, Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. left an indelible legacy. His dedication to distilling began at the close of the Civil War when he purchased O.F C. Distillery. There, he developed innovative techniques that are still in use today. Made by hand, this Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey has been aged inside century old warehouses constructed by E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrels are evaluated and selected to create a perfect blend of distinctive character that is like no other. This bourbon is a true sipping bourbon that honors the uncompromising legacy of E.H. Taylor, Jr.
Name: Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. - Small Batch
Age: No age statement. (~7 years)
Delivery: Neat. Later, with water.
Color: Brown butter, raw honey.
Nose: Butterscotch and caramel. Hints of cinnamon and allspice.
Impression: At first hit this bourbon tastes remarkably like a spoonful of dulce de leche. You get a caramel corn sugar component, with the butterscotch carryover from the nose. The finish is faint with pepper and spice. It feels like drinking a dessert, truly.
Overview: A well crafted batch bourbon pretty hard to pull off. However, if anyone can do it, it's the folks at Buffalo Trace (BT). The CEHT line is pretty distinctive with its bourbons and the 100 proof gives this whiskey the extra "oomph" needed to pull off the complexity, without being a watered down version of the Single Barrel. It's a smooth sipper that actually gets sweeter with a little H2O.
First impressions are lasting impressions, but as my palette has expanded over time, this bourbon seems to start getting washed out behind more characterized whiskies. It's missing that syrupy, long-lasting impression I often look for in good whiskey.
I suppose the highlight of this bourbon is that it absolutely nails the butterscotch flavor profile. However, that's where the story ends. The lack of expanded flavors and nuance leaves me wishing there was more to the story here.
Recommendation: Buy it. I've seen this bourbon on the shelves anywhere from $35-$50, with $50 mark being a little over market price. I'd say if you can find it for in the $35-40 range, scoop it up! It's a great one to keep in stock and is a step above a lot of what you're likely to find on the "top shelf" in most liquor outlets.
Grade: 3 - Very Good. A nice bourbon that is actually pretty fantastic serving as a "daily driver" whiskey. Sit this next to the CEHT Single Barrel, however, and you'll quickly realize it's still the littlest brother in the family. At entry-level prices offers a good amount of value for this bourbon. But value pales in comparison to character for me and that fact alone is what keeps this whiskey in check.