November 27, 2018
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: Mash #1, speculated to be 75% corn, 10% rye, 15% barley
Aged: NAS, but rumored to be ~7 years
Price: $40 MSRP (750mL) but frequently marked-up to $60+
From the back of the bottle:
“As founding father of the bourbon industry, Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. left an indelible legacy. His dedication to distilling began at the close of the Civil War when he purchased O.F C. Distillery. There, he developed innovative techniques that are still in use today. Made by hand, this Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey has been aged inside century old warehouses constructed by E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrels are evaluated and selected to create a perfect blend of distinctive character that is like no other. This bourbon is a true sipping bourbon that honors the uncompromising legacy of E.H. Taylor, Jr.”
EH Taylor Small Batch is a Buffalo Trace product made from the very popular Mash #1, also used for bourbons such as Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare 10, and Stagg Jr. EH Taylor comes in a few different versions (small batch, single barrel, barrel proof, and more) that are quickly snatched up left and right. To my knowledge, the main differentiator is that all EH Taylor whiskeys are aged in the warehouse that was constructed during EH Taylor’s time as owner, not the other ones used for the other Mash #1 bourbons. It also comes with sweet vintage-looking packaging. Let’s find out if any of that matters in this EH Taylor Small Batch review.
Buffalo Trace Lineup of Reviews
EH Taylor Barrel Proof – TBD
George T. Stagg (2015) – TBD
Thomas Handy Sazerac – TBD
EH Taylor Small batch starts with raisins, flowers, fresh pine, sandalwood, and black pepper, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon, caramel, cherry, and candied oranges. Other bright fruits such as pears and oranges bounce in and out of the scents, adding an interesting touch. The combination of fruit, wood, and alcohol creates a perfumey, vibrant, and effervescent scent that is so pleasant. Swirling releases more of the bright flower, charred wood, nut, and pine notes, but the alcohol remains present yet reserved. That agitation also releases more raisin, buttercream, and vanilla frosting, akin to a fresh frosted cinnamon bun (yum) that’s across the room. For all the raisin and wood notes, it is not overly oaky.
As the liquids disappears, I smell something akin to marshmellows from the vanilla, dusty wood, dried corn, and a little mint. The smells are presented very nicely, and I especially enjoy frosted cinnamon buns.
My first taste is covered in sweet corn, pumpernickel bread, orange, and starfruit with brown sugar and mint to finish. The semi-sweet orange fruit notes under the corn and rye remind me of marmalade on bread with just a pinch of nuts, but not quite a PB&J. There’s more bright citrus and sweet stewed corn on subsequent tastes with some caramel, nuts, mint, and woody pine supporting it. EH Taylor Small Batch has wonderfully bright citrus flavors that add a lot of character and complement the floral nose. Every now and then I also taste nibs of chocolate and marshmallow. Chewing definitely brings out some of the alcohol bite and tang, but it’s never unmanageable. I’m surprised I didn’t taste raisin, but it just may be covered up.
Honey, citrus, guava, and peppermint linger on the finish. The more I swish, the more wood and grassy nuts linger, fading into sweet corn and peppermint that leave a slightly gummy and bitter residue on my mouth, like eating a little bit of orange rind. It’s a fantastic finish to a great tasting bourbon.
EH Taylor Small Batch is an excellent bourbon, even more so at $40 (assuming MSRP). It has delicious fruit, vanilla, spice, and nut notes with a commensurate amount of alcohol that provides a nice body and kick. I also really love the fragrant floral notes that remind me of running through a field full of flowers and grass. I wish the flavors could be a little more full and deep, but they overall are still strong and complex enough to earn a “Top Shelf” rating. If you like brighter, floral, and citrusy bourbons, this is one for you.
Now if I had to pick, I’d honestly pay an extra $10 (assuming MSRP) for Stagg Jr. over EH Taylor Small Batch, but ideally I would have both. Drinking Stagg Jr. is like being swept away in an wild wave of flavor and alcohol while EH Taylor is a more gentle, yet equally interesting experience. Until I drink EH Taylor Barrel Proof (which I have but haven’t opened), Stagg Jr. is the gold standard for Buffalo Trace bourbons short of anything from the Antique Collection, but EH Taylor is a fantastic bourbon as well.
EDIT: After drinking this again after a few months, I’m upgrading the rating from “Mid Shelf+” to “Top Shelf”. Time has brought out even more of the vibrant floral notes that are so great. The flavors have also improved, with even more bright citrusy flavors that are complex and interesting. I’m enjoying EH Taylor Small Batch even more than I did before.