If you’re looking for the perfect Memorial Day weekend drink, look no further. Whether you’re remembering the sacrifice of a fallen comrade or family member or celebrating their life with a stiff drink, this bourbon will do the trick:
Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch
Thoughts: This one has been on my to-buy list for the longest time. While I was convinced my local booze shop didn’t carry it, I was politely corrected (read: made to feel like a blind dummy). I’m happy to report that this bourbon is exceptional and deserves this featured post. Go getcha some.
I really don’t dig doing the whole description of the “nose” or the “mouth feel” or the “finish” of a bourbon, so instead I’ll give you this good review by the wonderfully-named Whisky Bitch, which also happens to include a short lesson on what “bottled in bond” means:
Some Background: As the video mentions, Colonel Taylor led the charge for the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. (Taylor himself has a fun history that includes being related to President Zachary Taylor.) Besides the quality assurance guaranteed by the act, Wikipedia tells me that the statute provided distilleries with some room to shuck and jive the tax men as well. At any rate, the act ensured that, over a century later, bourbon consumers could feel fancy and self-important by buying a whiskey with the BiB label.
Joking aside, the bonded label does help you to identify the distilleries that are putting in the work and effort for a good product (though I’m sure it isn’t 100% foolproof). Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch, produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery, fits the “good product” bill, though, and their packaging tells the quality story. I’m a sucker for good packaging, so when the old-timey can containing the bottle carried phrases like “LET THE LABEL TELL THE TRUTH” and “E.H. TAYLOR, Jr.[‘s] OCCUPANCY OF 1ST PLACE IS NOT ACCIDENTAL – ITS SUPREMACY AS PURE BEVERAGE WHISKEY BOTTLED IN BOND IS FUNDAMENTAL – THOUSANDS OF VISITORS WILL ATTEST,” I was sold. (The positive reviews I’d read beforehand helped.)
In fact, the can and label designs are borrowed from the older Old Taylor designs, a bourbon that, as far as I can tell, is no longer produced. (There’s a whole other background to that that you can get the gist of from this Wiki article.)
The Colonel started out his whiskey production days when he built the Old Fashioned Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky a few years after the Civil War. Taylor ended up selling the distillery a decade later to George T. Stagg, and that legendary site stands to this day as a testament to bourbon history. Famous names in whiskey like Stagg, Pappy Van Winkle, and Albert B. Blanton (all of which have delicious bourbons named after them) worked out of the O.F.C., which was renamed the George T. Stagg distillery in 1904 and then the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999.
But this isn’t about Buffalo Trace, as excellent as their current product lineup, including our featured bourbon, may be. Taylor moved on after selling O.F.C. and built The Old Taylor Distillery near Frankfort. Not satisfied with a run-of-the-mill, boring distillery, Taylor decided to make his joint downright regal. He built a castle.
Not following the same successful path as his previous distillery, Taylor’s castle location fell into disrepair in the 20th century. The castle stands today, although it ain’t as pretty as it used to be.
The good news, however, is that a venture is well on its way to renovating and reestablishing the distillery. You can read about the efforts to refurbish the distillery here at The Whiskey Wash. There are two important elements about this development worth highlighting: 1) It was announced earlier this year that the distillery will be renamed to “Castle & Key” with a projected opening later this year; and 2) the distillery will be led by Marianne Barnes, the first woman Master Distiller of a bourbon distillery in Kentucky since Prohibition.
Parting Words: I talked about packaging already, but it’s the little details that make me happy. While reading up on the 1897 BiB Act for this piece, I saw that those bourbons in compliance with the act after its passage would earn the right to label their bottles appropriately. They also shipped with a special seal across the top of the bottle bearing the portrait of then-Secretary of the Treasury John G. Carlisle. Bearing in mind the old-timey packaging I reference above, I went back to my bottle to check. Sure enough:
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