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Review: Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon

Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon is the 4th release under the modern day E.H. Taylor name. Produced by Buffalo Trace, the namesake is a nod towards one of the bourbon industry’s major innovators and owner of the Old Fire Copper (OFC) distillery. OFC and an adjacent distillery, Carlisle, would eventually become Buffalo Trace.

My experience with these E.H. Taylor releases have been a gradual increase in overall quality. The first one was just a little weird. The Single Barrel was an improvement, and the 3rd, the Tornado Surviving Warehouse C release, was a big step in the right direction (rating out at 8.9). Does Buffalo Trace continue the improvement in this series? Here are my thoughts on this barrel proof monster.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon, 67.25% abv (134.5 Proof), $75/bottle
Color: Deep Amber
Nose: Sorghum syrup and molasses, dried figs, cherry licorice, and sour apple. Tons of punchy spices as well (clove, nutmeg, anise).
Palate: Molasses, cherry cough syrup, baked apple, and a good bit of resin and grip from the wood. The spices are again ablaze in this one – chili heat and clove taking the foreground.
Finish: Heat and warmth abound with wood spices. Molasses sweetness as well as some bitters.
Overall: Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon is a monster pour at 134.5 proof. It benefits GREATLY from a healthy dose of water to calm the fire and levels the assault so to speak. The main complaint I have is there’s not a great deal of layered depth in spite of the proof. As a result it drinks a lot like what I imagine an air traffic controller feels like – stressed and intense. That’s not to say it doesn’t have many fantastic high points (boiled sugars, fruit and spice), but there’s a lot going on at a surface level. If you love ‘em big, brash, and in your face – this one is for you!
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.2 (Very Good)

20 Comments

  1. Josh says:

    I hope that air traffic controllers aren’t confused!

  2. Josh – good point. Probably a poor choice of words, but hopefully the point is still valid – this whiskey is a bit frenetic. I’ll amend the wording so as not to unintentionally offend. Thanks!

  3. Pau Mcivor says:

    Jason, thanks as always for taking the time with these reviews. I recently tried to the ‘Taylor Tornado Survivor’ and while I found it very good, at $75 I wasn’t blown away. That’s a tough price point when we’re still, (occasionally), finding a bottle of Pappy 12 year at $70. Your reviews are always balanced and thoughtful. Reading between the lines on this new Taylor, I’m going to try it before I buy it. Thanks again. Cheers!

  4. Pau Mcivor says:

    Jason, thanks as always for taking the time with these reviews. I recently tried the ‘Taylor Tornado Survivor’ and while I found it very good, at $75 I wasn’t blown away. That’s a tough price point when we’re still, (occasionally), finding a bottle of Pappy 12 year at $70. Your reviews are always balanced and thoughtful. Reading between the lines on this new Taylor, I’m going to try it before I buy it. Thanks again. Cheers!

  5. SteveBM says:

    Disagree with you on this one. I find it much better than your comments and rating would allude to. I don’t find the proof to be a deterrent to flavor. I just finished another glass tonight and love it from start to finish, the way it enters spicy, hits sweet, and finishes smooth with that molasses and shaved chocolate note. The fact that you’ve rated Larceny (which I found incredibly boring, especially mid-palate which offers almost nada) higher than this one is shocking. I fully believe “different strokes, different folks” but in my book you’re off on this one.

  6. SteveBM says:

    Btw, I’m sipping neat not proofing down with water or ice. Haven’t gone that route yet but plan to for variety at some point.

  7. Thanks for the comment SteveBM. For me, this whiskeys erratic and disjointed flavor delivery kept it from edging higher. I have a history of being EXTREMELY fond of barrel proof and higher proof bourbons, and would consider myself a proof hound in many ways, but it lacked the depth and structure that high proof whiskeys really need. Frankly I think it’s overproofed and far better with water – it becomes significantly more harmonious.

    You mention Larceny here. I think this is a great example of different strokes for sure because for me the high point of Larceny is the mid palate. You take the first sip – it puddles on the tongue (very velvetty and viscous) and as you sip it the spices begin to pop right at mid palate. If anything the part where it “falls off” is on the finish – where it ends rather abruptly. Perhaps that’s what you meant. However that’s much more common to the style of wheated bourbons less than 8-10 years old. If you sip it alongside Maker’s or Old Weller Special Reserve I think you will see what I mean.

  8. Mark says:

    Jason, good to see you back with a vengeance. Two reviews in one week, awesome man, I’m sure if your summer was anything like mine, it was probably pretty busy.

    As for the Barrel Proof, couldn’t agree more, I loved some EH Taylor Tornado, so Barrel Proof was one I coveted and bought right out of the gate. I will say though, it has gotten better with each visit (definitely needs some air), but I agree, that it’s not anything epic. It’s sitting next to some 2009 4 Roses Mariage on my shelf, and I find myself loving the balance in that release. They are at about the same price point, and I would take the 4R every time if given the choice.

    Good news is, I’ve found some awesome bottles myself, looking forward to opening some of them, tonight I’m going to pop the PHC 2012, 5:00 can’t come fast enough, I keep reading it’s epic.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. Vince says:

    Jason, I think you are right on the money with this one. To me, it is clearly the worst of the offerings from EH Taylor. The proof does not do this any favors and it does lack depth and complexity. The good news is it can take alot of water and is certainly a nice whiskey when it gets to a proper proof point. Its good but doesnt measure up to the single barrel or the tornado in my opinion. Nice job!

  10. Jack Willow says:

    Similar review, only published a whole four months earlier, meaning I saw it in time to actually reserve a bottle of this stuff and guarantee I got it. The Taylor series tends to disappear quickly, and I know my local liquor store can’t get any more now…

    http://whiskeyreviewer.com/2012/06/colonel-e-h-taylor-barrel-proof-bourbon-review/

  11. Bmac says:

    I’m curious, do you think it’s.possible tbat there are different batches? I have seen numerous reviews that peg this barrel proof bourbon as epic. The Tornado version was two dumps, one good, one awesome.

    So again, being that it’s barrel proof, there has to be more than one barrel of this stuff.. Maybe some good…some not so good.

  12. BMc says:

    Maybe it’s been batched and dumped more than once, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

    To my taste, it’s a whole, whole lot like Rock Hill Farms, except hotter. There’s no further complexity at barrel proof, surprisingly, and no real concentration of some flavors over others. To be honest, I like it better at 55% or so, at which point it’s a dead ringer for my RHF bottle. I was hoping it’d be a rye bomb, or at least something complex that’s not seen with their watered down products, but what I got was just another Buffalo Trace profile, kind of boring.

  13. Bmac – could be true about multiple dumps, but this is actually a Barrel Proof bottling, and not a single barrel. Just FYI.

  14. Bmac says:

    You’re right, not sure why I got.confused there. If anything it’s small batxh. However, I finally cracked mine open and I got the worse vegitable flavor profile I have ever had in bourbon. I poured it out and had a 2nd pour that I let sit for 10 mins. It must have opened up something fierce because it was gloriously tasty after that! I wonder if the flavor profile has changed since you reviewed it? Just curious :)

  15. AirTraffic says:

    It’s OK to use a figurative simile from time to time. We live in a world that has become way too literal. Let’s leave the hyper-sensitivity where it belongs: our palates. Jason, I agree with you – speaking as an air traffic controller and one who drinks the Colonel. Both are a hell of a ride. But I try to keep it down to at least three glasses while on duty.

  16. CBrant says:

    I’m in Frankfort. From what I have heard is the tornado C version is actually a Pappy that they decided not to bottle as such. Too old to be a BT, what are your thoughts?

  17. Spriggs says:

    I think that this is a pretty good bottle. Amazing description though, you’re right on the money there. I would have to rate this one ” not bad for the money”

  18. Howard says:

    I think that E. H. Taylor Barrel proof is fantastic. It is a bit too hot neat for me. I find that adding 2-3 small ice cubes, 4 drops of distilled water and letting it sit for about 3-5 minutes until the cubes are nearly gone, I am then tasting a slow-poke sucker of old. Unbelievable.

  19. Patrick says:

    I have tried a few of these high proof “barrel proof” offerings this year. I liked the Elijah Craig, but it was a bit strong for my taste. I saw another bourbon site vlogger had loved this one. I was not overly enthused personally with it. I do have a question, why do the other review sites push for such higher proof points. Personally I don’t want my palate smoked by high alcohol. I think I max out at 114 proof, I guess you know which one I am referring to. I tend to remain traditional with my enjoyment level and I prefer smoothness and flavor over a strong alcohol burn.

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