A month ago, when I wrote this post about the new Colonel E. H. Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon from Buffalo Trace, I had all the information about it but had not yet tasted the whiskey.
That omission has been corrected.
Since the February post is quite thorough I won’t rehash the product story here. This will just be my tasting notes.
The nose is mild, with tart citrus and warm caramel. Those flavors continue on the tongue but then something surprising happens. Cumin! It just jumped out at me. I love cumin but it’s not a taste I normally find in bourbon. Very earthy and vegetal. A nice surprise.
It is earthy but at the same time, light. Although both can be characteristics of Buffalo Trace bourbons, this is not a recognizable Buffalo Trace whiskey, even though it likely uses one of their standard rye-recipe mash bills and their usual yeast. That’s because when you change a yeast’s environment it will create a different flavor profile. Very much its own creature, this whiskey wears its nine years lightly with barely a trace of soot-char-smoke.
Although the sour mash process doesn’t necessarily or even usually produce a sour-tasting whiskey, this one is ever so slightly sour; sweet and sour like sourball candy. There are some similarities to Old Charter, a Buffalo Trace bourbon. The sourness comes across as tart apple or a slightly sour white wine. It is a pleasant level of sourness unless you have no tolerance for that in bourbon at any level, in which case you won’t care for this.
It is slightly sour on the tongue and slightly bitter on the finish, wrapping up with an anise note.
The high price being asked for this whiskey is mostly because of its rarity due to being an experiment and, therefore, a very small run. It’s not because of the taste necessarily, yet the taste is subtle, elegant and sophisticated. It may appeal to scotch drinkers and others who think bourbon is usually too sweet or in-your-face. This Taylor is neither.
It probably should be mentioned that the new Colonel E. H. Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon has no relationship to the existing Old Taylor Bourbon that’s on the market, except that it's named for the same guy and made by Buffalo Trace. As explained in the February post, this is the first step in a repositioning of the brand that may, in the future, see Old Taylor Classic go away. But that’s not for sure and in no sense imminent.
There is a temptation to buy something like this and hold on to it for a ‘special occasion’ that never seems to come. That would be a shame because it really should be tasted.