EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods review
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods Bourbon
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: Unknown, not disclosed
Aged: 10+years in virgin American white oak
Price: $70 MSRP and a whole lot more on secondary
From the Buffalo Trace website:
“Bourbon aristocrat Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. exuded a passion for producing the finest whiskey in the world. This bourbon honors Taylor’s enduring spirit of innovation and commitment to exceptional whiskey by introducing Amaranth as the flavoring grain. Amaranth was originally cultivated by the Aztecs and is known as the “Grain of the Gods.” This ancient grain is similar to wheat, but offers a complex taste with subtle flavors ranging from a nose of butterscotch and spearmint, to a finish of pecans and dark berries.“
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods overview
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods is Buffalo Trace’s 2019 EH Taylor limited release that replaces the rye, used in EH Taylor Small Batch, Single Barrel, and Barrel Proof, with amaranth. Since I don’t know much about amaranth, I did some internet research to learn more. Turns out that amaranth is actually a seed, coming from plants native to Central and South America, that have been widely consumed for thousands of years. Clearly North America has been missing out on this food. “Grain” ends up being the term frequently used because amaranth is often ground up into a flour and used accordingly. If you think about it a little (too hard), Amaranth “Seed” of the Gods probably didn’t have as nice a ring to it either.
This EH Taylor may be the first and only bourbon to include amaranth in the mash, making it a one-of-a-kind bourbon. I have absolutely no grounding into what amaranth contributes to bourbon, so why not find out in this EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods review.
*Huge thanks to Ryan B. for providing a sample of this bourbon.
Buffalo Trace Lineup of Reviews
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods smell
There’s definitely something immediately unique about the scents. It’s kind of earthy, herbal, and grainy, so I’m not completely sure what to make of it, but that’s not really a bad thing. The nose is very floral, maybe rose or lavender, and red apples; and instead of honey or caramel, I smell sorghum syrup, as well as a little vanilla frosting, toasted oak, smoke, hazelnut brittle, chocolate, and almond extract. The vanilla and almond extract mix reminds me of macarons. There aren’t any signs of rye, so if done blind I could possibly mistake this for a wheated bourbon, albeit a slightly nutty one.
Swirling makes the scents remind me again of macarons with almond extract and vanilla. It’s not overpowering, but it is the first thing that comes to mind. More caramel and vanilla hazelnut coffee creamer come next, with a little dried grass, toasted oak, dried citrus, and possibly a sliver of ginger. The 100 proof alcohol isn’t a problem, but is a little doughy at times.
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods contains a lot of floral and hazelnut / almond scents that could come from the amaranth. While EH Taylor Small Batch is floral as well, with sandalwood, the Amaranth’s hazelnut and almond nuttiness is completely new. There’s a lot to think about as I enjoy the scents.
EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods taste & aftertaste
Amaranth Grain of the Gods starts sweet with honey, grain, cinnamon, and vanilla with just a little oak and cinnamon. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a floral rose-like flavor (gulab jamun?) hiding in there with the chocolate, oak, and alcohol. The flavors are not bad, but there isn’t a ton of it and it’s a little thin for me. With “chewing” I still taste the same honey, vanilla, and floral and grassy flavors. There’s definitely something unexpectedly herbal and medicinal that obviously doesn’t come from rye, so maybe that’s the amaranth flavor. My best description is that it’s a mashup of candied ginger, flower, and dried wood. It also gets a bit oakier and spicier with toasted grains. Over the two times I drank this for the review, I’ve decided that the flavors are good and occasionally interesting but far from great, much like EH Taylor Single Barrel.
Honey, vanilla frosting, almond extract, red apple skin, and oak kick-off the finish, turning into lightly sweet toasted almonds after a few minutes. “Chewing” brings out this minty and grassy character with honey, orange, almond, and oak. I really wasn’t expecting mint (a common trait from rye) or grass (often found in Heaven Hill and Jim Beam bourbons), but I guess I’ll take it. Over time the finish becomes more refreshing with mint and flower with toasted grains, likely coming from the amaranth.
With my hype hat on, I’m disappointed by the mostly run-of-the-mill flavors that don’t do much new. This is not good enough for $70 bourbon, let alone a Buffalo Trace limited release. Taking that hat off though, EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods objectively is pleasant to drink and brings a couple interesting twists, but it all fits squarely into the good bourbon category. If I did a blind tasting, I have a feeling that I would guess that this was a 7-8 year old low-rye, or even four grain, bourbon.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
I was hopeful and optimistic that I would greatly enjoy EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods (as I do with everything I review). Forgetting about the hype though, it’s at best a good but not great bourbon. First off, the good – the nose is actually very fragrant and floral. Apart from the usual bourbon scents, there are floral (lavender or rose?), hazelnut, and almond notes that I don’t frequently smell in bourbon, making the experience a little more interesting. The not so good – the flavors are not particularly rich, let alone unique or exceptional given the age (at least 10 years), proof, and mash bill. The flavors start off well enough with floral and grassy sweetness, but it all remains surface level and doesn’t evolve, squarely a “Mid Shelf+” bourbon that’s very far from being “Top Shelf”. It’s like getting into what you think is a Corvette and shifting into second gear to find out that it only has 2 gears.
Since there aren’t many bourbons with amaranth in the mash, it’s tough to confidently say exactly what amaranth brings to bourbon. For me, it seems to add floral and minty, almost herbal, notes that remind me of rye at times, but without the licorice, dill, or tropical fruit. It’s unique for sure, but for those itching to find one to drink, this is honestly no better than EH Taylor Single Barrel or even the Small Batch (which I actually prefer). Even 10 year old Eagle Rare store picks are equally, if not more, delicious and interesting. At the end of all of this, I’m sure using amaranth was an interesting experiment, but it could have been so much more.
Objectively speaking, EH Taylor Amaranth Grain of the Gods is an easy pass at $70, not even as good as Stagg Jr. Admittedly it’s not a perfect apples to apples comparison, but I think I can make the call here. I can’t and won’t stop anyone from buying this though, but I’m glad I didn’t try too hard.