By Randall H. Borkus
As one might expect from a whiskey named for the father of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, Col. E.H. Taylor Single Barrel is an excellent example bottled-in-bond Kentucky juice.
Colonel Taylor was a grand nephew of General Zachary Taylor, America’s first military hero of the Mexican War (1846-47). His reputation was memorialized and stamped on whiskey flasks, “General Taylor Never Surrenders,” some say contributing in Taylor’s successful campaign to become the 12th President of the United States.
Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. was a contemporary and acquaintance of bourbon luminaries Dr. James C. Crow, Oscar Pepper, Judge William B. McBrayer, John H. McBrayer and W.F. Bond, and a major figure of Kentucky bourbon’s 19th Century heritage in his own right. He was a skilled businessman, public relations professional, and sharp financier when it came to packaging and promoting his products, as well as a longtime mayor of Frankfort and prominent Bluegrass political figure. He was also an owner of the distillery that became Buffalo Trace, and later built the soon-to-be revived Old Taylor.
Yet beyond even an entire distillery and two whole brands of bourbon bearing his name, E.H. Taylor’s is best remembered for the aforementioned Bottled in Bond Act, which established a high benchmark for true quality at a time when some distributors were still adding tobacco spit to rotgut spirits and calling it whiskey. Under the act, a bottled-in-bond whiskey must: be distilled at one distillery and within a single season (year); aged at a Federally bonded warehouse for not less than four years; and bottled at 100 proof. All of the Col. E.H. Taylor series, except the Barrel Proof, are bottled-in-bond.
Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel was aged exclusively in Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C, which was built with Taylor’s personal oversight in 1881, and now regarded as an exceptional aging warehouse. The single barrel concept was formally introduced in the mid-1980s at Buffalo Trace by Elmer Lee with Blanton’s, so this particular Col. E.H. Taylor takes the bottled-in-bond staple of the series and builds on it by adding another distillery innovation.
The whiskey is a shade darker in color than the Small Batch Taylor. A bit more intense, too, with more mouthfeel, and a solid finish.
I love this nose. It creeps up your nostrils teasing with hints of fruit, dried figs, butterscotch and toasted oak. The scent can only be described as sensual spender which sets my expectations of what’s to come.
The mouthfeel is delightfully warm, slightly syrupy, with a burst of toasted oak sweetness, caramel, butterscotch, honey and a tad of freshly unpacked tobacco and rum.
The finish is long lasting reminding me of a flavorful stroll through a taste bud paradise full of caramel, butterscotch and toasted oak which blends together to create a richness in the back of the throat.
The Single Barrel release for Col. E. H. Taylor is an excellent Kentucky juice that evidences creative acumen of Buffalo Trace techniques and finishes. Whiskey aficionados should stock up with multiple bottles to keep on appreciating this gem. Speaking from personal experience, it’s regretfully gone from Chicago area shelves!
When I could get the Taylor Single Barrel, it was at $79. Some retailers marked it up to $115!