EH Taylor | The Definitive Guide
Although you may have heard of the whiskey collection branded as Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. many are unaware of the depth and breadth of the label or the mystique around the man for whom the whiskey is named after. The E.H. Taylor brand has been developed as a standalone premium name inside the Buffalo Trace collection – from a lookalike tax strip covering the bottle top, the highly decorative tube the bottles are packaged in and loads of detail on the bottles themselves, they really do stand out from the crowd. The line includes several expressions that are released throughout the year (small batch, single barrel, straight rye and barrel proof) along with limited one-off releases. Outside of the barrel proof bourbon, all the Taylor releases are Bottled-in-Bond.
Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr.
The Colonel, known as the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry” was an innovator who first entered the whiskey business in 1869 when he bought a small distillery that he’d go on to name “O.F.C.” That distillery was bought a decade later by another famous name in bourbon, George T. Stagg. The term “O.F.C.” will probably sound familiar to some, but stands for “old fashioned copper” with a very coveted brand of bourbon bearing it’s namesake from Buffalo Trace. At the time, his use of copper distillation tanks was a new phenomenon in the industry, one of many things the Colonel would bring to the whiskey business.
Not only did the Colonel raise the bar with his distilling, but he was also a key proponent in advancing higher standards for bourbon, helping advance the passing of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. Amongst other accolades, he additionally served for sixteen years as the mayor of Frankfort, Kentucky – ground zero for a significant chunk of bourbon history.
What is Bottled-in-Bond
Within the US government’s Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (portions of which were first incorporated in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897) a set of legal regulations are contained that describe the requirements for which the use of “Bottled-in-Bond” apply. These requirements are as follows:
Must be the product of one distillation season (January to June or July to December) by one distiller at one distillery.
Must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years.
Must be bottled at 100 proof.
The use of Bottled-in-Bond infers a certain level of quality, rooted in a history that many do not necessarily understand.
Who Makes EH Taylor?
It probably should not come as much of a surprise, but the EH Taylor line is a Buffalo Trace product. Learn more about the complete line of Buffalo Trace products here.
EH Taylor Annual Releases
With the exception of EH Taylors Barrel Proof bottling, you may actually come across a few of these at your local liquor store. If you do, they're pretty much always worth a pickup, unless they're marked up substantially.
EH Taylor Small Batch
Secondary Price: $115
If you are ever going to come across a bottle of EH Taylor in the wild, it is most likely going to be this guy. In terms of the expressions available in the EH Taylor lineup, this is the bottom . For being on the low end of the brand, it is however a full-flavored bourbon that is very enjoyable. EH Taylor Small Batch does not have an age statement; it does however have a big label stating that it is bottled in bond. The legally required minimum aging based on that statement is four years old. That is however a minimum and this drinks like something that has got a bit more age on it.
EH Taylor Single Barrel
Secondary Price: $200
A bit more difficult to come by than the EH Taylor Small Batch, the Single Barrel expression barrels are predominantly sourced from Warehouse C which was built by the Colonel in 1881. These hand-picked barrels, deliver lots of complexity and flavor using Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill #1. It’s a bourbon you can really sit with and savor with a multitude of flavors and a finish that hangs on and ends with a bang!
EH Taylor Barrel Proof
Secondary Price: $500
One of my absolute favorites, this bourbon is uncut and unfiltered packing some heat at more than 125 proof and is a rollercoaster of flavor. Another bottling drawing on Buffalo Traces Mashbill #1, it is a classic-tasting bourbon that delivers "all the things" and does so with the gravitas of a high-proof whiskey. Each year this expression changes slightly so it is difficult to pin down succinctly, and, with that yearly variation, comes yearly changes in alcohol by volume (“ABV”).
EH Taylor Barrel Proof Release Guide
EH Taylor Straight Rye
Secondary Price: $300
As I discussed in a recent post on rye, the rye scene has seen a recent revival here in the states. Rye whiskey has a long history, and the Colonel was making this expression back over a hundred years ago. This is the only rye in the entire EH Taylor collection, uniquely, the mashbill for this rye contains only rye and malted barley, leaving corn altogether out of the party. This particular high-rye mashbill is only used for this particular rye. Buffalo Trace also has a low-rye mashbill which they use to make their other rye products. Another bottled-in-bond 100 proof expression, this is a flavor monster that will certainly not disappoint, being very spice forward with no fruity sweetness present in some of their other ryes.
EH Taylor Limited Releases
The varied bottlings that fit within this category are almost entirely unicorn bottles that you’d never see hit a shelf, and if they do it’s probably an accident or you're being rewarded for a good deed and have some crazy good karma going on so you should probably consider buying a lottery ticket. Given the ultra-rare nature of these, I’ve not even bothered to include a retail price because that would be disingenuous to suggest you’ll find them for that…ever...but generally these retail around the $70 mark, which is a bit laughable given the secondary valuations.
EH Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash
Secondary Price: $25,000
Released in 2011, this super rare bourbon is a hat tip to the Colonel who pioneered the souring method used in making this juice. The Colonel would make sour mash bourbon over the course of three to five days by keeping cooked mash in a “drop tub.” While being held within said tub, the PH would lower, readying it for fermentation and distillation. Plan to find a local banker to front you a loan if you want to find you way into one of these bottles. I’ve literally heard of folks trading automobiles for these bottles….plain nuts!
EH Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving
Secondary Price: $8,000
Another 2011 release, this bourbon pays homage to the tornado that left a path of destruction through the middle of Kentucky in April 2006. Two distillery warehouses were damaged from the tornado, with several barrels being exposed to the elements in Warehouse C whose roof and a part of a brick wall were impacted. Fast forward a few years and these exposed barrels were found to have a little something-something compared to others and so they were packaged up and put out as a special bottling. Aside from the novelty, which admittedly is cool, reviews of this bourbon often come back quite positive. So, if you’ve got a chuck of change sitting around to spare, consider drinking it away with this one!
EH Taylor Cured Oak
Secondary Price: $4,000
A 2015 release, this release is named for the staves used in the barrels that the juice aged in. Staves used in EH Taylors Cured Oak bottling dried outside for a year and one month, nearly double the average six months seen for other staves used in Buffalo Trace lines. This bourbon aged for a remarkable 17 years in Warehouse C!
EH Taylor Seasoned Wood
Secondary Price: $2,600
A 2016 release, this is the first wheated bourbon issued under the EH Taylor brand. Most notably, EH Taylors Seasoned Wood expression draws from a unique barrel seasoning process. The staves utilized had multiple seasoning treatments applied to create the final barrels. Some staves were exposed to a special enzyme bath and heated, others were seasoned for six months outside in the elements while some were left for a full year. Aged for well over a decade, this is a 100-proof bottled-in-bond bourbon that by all accounts is a flop in the experimental department lacking much in terms of complexity or flavor. Props to the folks at Buffalo Trace for however continuing to push the envelope – sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. It was a gamble, and at the end of the day, it still goes down just the same, just minus the razzle-dazzle that they had hoped for.
EH Taylor Four Grain
Secondary Price: $1,400
A 2017 release, this bourbon draws from a unique mashbill consisting of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. These four grains are what the Colonel would have used in the late 1800’s in his distillery and such is why they were chosen for this limited release.
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods
Secondary Price: $1,800
A 2019 release, this bourbon aged over a decade and is another experimental offering that pushes beyond the status quo in bourbon. A first of its kind, honoring the pioneering spirit of the Colonel himself, this is the only bourbon to use amaranth grain in its mashbill. Amaranth grain is like wheat and was used historically by the Aztecs. In Aztec culture there is a strong tie between this grain and the gods that the Aztecs worshipped, hence the name.
EH Taylor 18 Year Marriage
Secondary Price: $2,600
A 2020 release, this juice first hit the barrels in 2002 and marries barrels from two rye bourbon mashbills and one wheated bourbon mashbill, resulting in the given name. Nearly impossible to come by, reviews suggest that for spending 18 years in the barrel it’s not overtly as oaky as would be assumed. Hitting the market right at the height of COVID craziness, a truly, hyper-limited release, it was gone about as quick as it showed up.
EH Taylor Warehouse C
Secondary Price: $1,600
A 2021 release, this one-time offering aged ten years in Warehouse C, built by the Colonel in 1885. Coming from the central part of the warehouse, half of the barrels came from the 2nd floor where the ricks are tight and half of the barrels came from the 5th floor which is ringed in windows which adds heat ramping up the aging process.
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