Distiller: Buffalo Trace. 50% ABV. Age: 4+ years. Mashbill: BT’s Mash Bill no. 1 – exact proportions undisclosed, but 10% or less rye. Price: $40-45.
If anybody’s hit the sweet spot between tradition and innovation, it’s Buffalo Trace. There’s their fine standard offering, old standbys like Blanton’s, and their enormously ambitious and wide-ranging Experimental Collection — an effort to systematize and track the effects of everything from what floor in the warehouse the whiskey was aged in to what part of the tree the barrel was made from.
Along these we have BT’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. series, honoring a man who was an innovator of his time and helped pass the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.
The Col. Taylor Rye is big, bold, and one of my favorites in the category. The Small Batch Bourbon is big and bold too, but for me, less successful.
The nose has the standard BT Mashbill no. 1 profile of baked goods and dark oak, but there’s an odd unintegrated note there too: anise? It’s 50% ABV, but feels even hotter on the tongue — harsh where I want it to be rich. The palate brings notes of shoe polish and wood varnish to the caramel and oak.
This is a confrontational bourbon, not a masterpiece of integration like Blanton’s or BT’s Rock Hill Farms. Not a daily drinker for me, and not for the faint of heart. But on a night when I’m looking for a challenge, it can still hit the spot. – BO