E.H. Taylor is one of Buffalo Trace’s many brands. I know that it’s named for one of the important figures in the early bourbon industry, Col. E.H. Taylor, who in the 1860s purchased a distillery that eventually became Buffalo Trace. Taylor, who was born in 1832, was related to both Zachary Taylor and Jefferson Davis. We’re talking Civil War-era here and Zachary Taylor, though a Whig, was a slaveholder himself; and so I found it “interesting” that both Buffalo Trace’s website and the internets in general are a little skimpy on details on E.H. Taylor’s history prior to the end of the Civil War. Where the rank came from is not clear. Sku tells me, however, that Chuck Cowdery’s book Bourbon Straight, which I should really read one of these years, notes that Taylor was a purchasing agent on the Union side during the Civil War. So no messy skeleton then in the distillery’s cupboard, though it’s also curious that they don’t play up the fact that one of their forerunners was on the right side of history there. Or maybe not (please see the comments for more on this subject that I found well after writing up the above).
I don’t know what the hallmark of the E.H. Taylor line of whiskeys is supposed to be—assuming there is one. They’ve certainly put out a number of them now, from a bourbon made from casks that survived tornadoes (was E.H. Taylor also the inspiration for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz?) to a rye to something called “Cured Oak” (which I’ll be reviewing on Friday). This one, the Small Batch is the basic one in the line.
E.H. Taylor, Small Batch, Bottled in Bond (50%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: This is a pretty classic bourbon profile with corn and caramel and oak and rye coming up from below all of that. I don’t really have very much to add to that: with time there’s some citrus in the background and some powdered ginger. With a lot of time the rye notes (cold tea, dill) magnify. Let’s see what water does. Actually, it softens it up and balances it nicely,
Palate: Leads with rye and oak and the sweet stuff; gets spicier and peppery as it goes. With more time some of that citrus shows up but the oak also becomes a bit too overbearing (too tannic and bitter). Water smoothens out most of the woody bite, though it’s still present.
Finish: Long. The spice and the oak keep building and pick up some menthol coolness. The oak gets overpowering here too with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This started out as a solid but unremarkable bourbon but then with time the wood got a bit much for me—but water did fix that. And I got a lot more rye here than you’d expect from a bourbon said to be made from one of Buffalo Trace’s low rye mash bills. On the whole, with a price in the mid-$30s at the low end it’s very hard to recommend this over many entry-level bourbons, especially if you like to sip slowly.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to Bryan F. for the sample (though, if you’re still reading along, you’ve probably long forgotten that you ever gave me this).