By Debbie Shocair
It’s only fair to confess right off the bat that I am a fan of Col. Taylor, in all his varied bottled incarnations. I was exceptionally excited about this one because, well, it’s a unusual concept. This eighth expression of the Col. E.H. Taylor Bourbon from the fine folks at the Buffalo Trace Distillery is a wheated, 100 proof Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon whose 10 year-plus journey found it seated and maturing in special barrels made from “seasoned” staves.
The staves that made this barrelling notable were treated in several separate, sometimes exotic procedures before being crafted into barrels for this special release Col. E.H. Taylor. Some of the staves were treated with a warm enzyme bath and then kiln dried. Others were left outdoors to season naturally, some for six months and some for a year. These special staves then all came together to make the barrels in which wheated Buffalo Trace bourbon sat and matured. According to Buffalo Trace, “All barrel staves were seasoned, dried, and crafted at Independent Stave Company, who consulted on this project with the premiere expert on oak maturation, Dr. James Swan.”
Yes, the idea looks impressive and certainly piques the interest.
On the nose, this specially seasoned wood Bourbon was actually a little harsh at first. The woody notes had some acerbic nature to them, but tucked just behind them was a bit of apple and even custard aromas. Breaking it with a half tsp. of water softened the woodiness considerably, and then I was treated to custard, vanilla, and creme brulee. Interestingly, after sitting for a few minutes, the aromas became much more like a Cadbury chocolate caramel bar, that being oddly specific. And wonderful.
The mouthfeel was at the tip of the tongue and a bit at the back of the palate, really quite gentle for a 100 proof Bourbon, and the finish was lovely and lingering, the wood notes softer still, mixed with sweet pipe tobacco and more hints of custard coming through.
The Seasoned Wood release for Col. E. H. Taylor is a very nice example of the experimental spirit that has swept the whiskey industry, applying ever more creative techniques and finishes. In this case, quite successfully. Any whiskey fan who appreciates the whiskeys coming from the Buffalo Trace distillery might want to consider this one.
It will run about $70 at your local Happy Juice store.