The E.H. Taylor line from Buffalo Trace has become a staple for many dedicated bourbon connoisseurs. This line of exceptional whiskey is named in honor of Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, a pioneer in the bourbon industry who has been hailed as the father of modern bourbon. Most notably, in addition to his numerous innovations to the distilling process, Taylor was responsible for the the expansion of the fabled O.F.C. Distillery, which would eventually be purchased by George T. Stagg and play an integral part in the development and success of the modern Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The Taylor line currently consists of ten different whiskeys (8 bourbons, a rye, and a sour mash), many of which are limited releases (i.e. Warehouse C Tornado Surviving). This is a review of perhaps one of the most sought-after annual releases, the E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof bourbon (2018 release). This bourbon is made from Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #1 and does not include an age statement, although I have heard this juice ages for roughly 6-8 years. This bourbon is bottled uncut and unfiltered and comes in at 129.7 proof (64.85% abv). This bottle originally retailed for $80.
Appearance – dark golden amber. Thin, fast legs developed in the glass.
Nose – this is a barrel proof bourbon and you know it instantly. There is plenty of ethanol emanating from the glass initially, but it is quickly balanced by plenty of rich, sweet flavors. The dominant notes included rich vanilla, some toasted grain, and dark baked fruit, almost reminiscent of a dark fruit pastry. I also found caramel, some tobacco leaf, and plenty of dry, musty oak undertones.
Palate – this bourbon leaves a medium mouthfeel with plenty of heat, although it is not overpowering. There is a fairly sharp rye spice that hits mid-palate, along with more vanilla, dark fruit, baking spice, and a fair amount of dry oak. A few drops of water goes a long way in calming the burn and allowing more of the rich, sweet flavors to develop. Surprisingly, the water creates a thicker mouthfeel for this pour and ushers in more dried red fruit and a thick caramel sweetness.
Finish – the finish here is exceptionally long and flavorful. A fair amount of heat and rye spice transition from the palate, along with more vanilla and layers of spiced fruit. I also found the occasional hint of cinnamon spice candies, which I typically find in the E.H. Taylor Small Batch release. There is plenty of sweetness on the finish but it is balanced by the lingering rye spice and dry, musty oak notes.
Overall – E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof is NOT an easy bourbon. This is NOT a daily sipper or a bottle you pour when you need something smooth and easy. This is a bold, flavorful expression and in my opinion, some damn fine bourbon! Every facet of this bourbon is deep and rich, and the flavors just keep developing and becoming more pleasant with time. There is definitely some alcohol burn throughout this pour (assuming you don’t add water) but it is not overpowering and the big, bold flavors are well-defined and complex. Personally, I could spend an hour on a single pour just trying to appreciate everything this bourbon offers from nose to finish.
This is not an easy bottle to find, and chances are if you see it on the shelf the price will be highly inflated. However, if you have the chance to get you hands on a bottle for a reasonable price, you will NOT be disappointed with this bold bourbon. Cheers!