By Richard Thomas
Releases from Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor collection deservedly attract a great deal of attention, but I think the timing of the Taylor Small Batch release will probably garner it a little more. Starting in early 2011, the Taylor brought us the Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, the Single Barrel Bourbon, the famed Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, the Barrel Proof Bourbon, and the Straight Rye Whiskey. The sixth installment of the line, this small batch comes out following word that Buffalo Trace intends to put a Colonel E.H. Taylor expression into regular production.
Heretofore, all the Taylors (including this small batch) have essentially been limited releases and uniformly aged in Taylor’s own Warehouse C. Built in 1881, this is the same structure that saw its roof torn off by a tornado and gave us the aforementioned Tornado Survivor bourbon, which sat in the upper tiers of the warehouse, serendipitously exposed to the Kentucky sun while the roof was being repaired. The Taylor small batch spent seven years maturing on the sixth floor of that storied brick building, and was bottled at a hefty 100 proof (50% abv).
In my snifter, the Taylor small batch had a syrupy, copper-amber coloring, which turned out to be suggestive of the whiskey’s scent. It has a sweet nose, thickly inlaid with caramel, and with just a tiny bite from the high alcohol content.
A taste of the bourbon reveals a sweet, but well-balanced whiskey. It’s syrupy and caramel candy-sweet, with a hint of butterscotch. Off-setting that Halloween candy basket side of the taste out is a dollop of woodiness, and just a dash of pepper. It’s thick, flavorful, and delicious.
I found the finish to be a long, lingering one. It starts out soft and somewhat warm, and then drifts off to a prolonged and somewhat peppery close. I imagine this bourbon as a conversational sipping whiskey, as it’s great stuff, but not so complex that it demands your complete attention to get the most out of it.
Now, I prefer my whiskey neat much of the time, but sometimes I find a whiskey with an abv of above 45% can be improved by a splash of water. The Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch was so firmly balanced I decided to see what a few drops of water might do to it. I can’t say it was an improvement. The nose develops a pleasant licorice quality that is almost fruity, but on the palate it is the woodiness comes out most strongly. While that drags out some more vanilla, it throws the balance out of whack. This small batch far from overpowering at 100 proof, so my advice is to skip the water.
The suggested retail price for the Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch is $39.99, relatively low for a limited release and very much in tune with other premium small batch bourbons.