About This Dram
The “Summer Of Blends” continues here in the Dram Association, with a look at how our neighbours to the south like to blend their whisky.
In the world of hard-to-find, collectible, high-quality bourbons – there’s really only one name at the top. Buffalo Trace is the makers of Weller’s, Blanton’s, Stagg, Pappy Van Winkle… the list goes on and on. These bourbons can cost thousands of dollars on the secondary market and are highly sought after. But there’s one brand that consistently offers the best value for money in the eyes of many, and that’s EH Taylor. This whisky has won more international awards than you can shake a stave at, and it’s now getting harder and harder to find. Here in BC, it’s practically gold dust – so when I was offered the only two cases coming to private stores on the island, I jumped at the opportunity to share it with our members. I hope that you enjoy it!
Located in Frankfort Kentucky, this powerhouse of a distillery produces around ten million litres of whiskey a year. They lay claim to being the oldest continuously operating distillery in the states – but that is contested by Maker’s Mark. Either way, it dates back to 1775 – which incredibly is the same year that the oldest Scotch distillery still producing whisky was founded, Glenturret!
But what exactly are we drinking here? This particular brand is named for Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr., a key player in the history of bourbon. He started as many as 7 distilleries in Kentucky and was supposedly a lobbyist for the “Bottled In Bond Act” too. I should mention that the term Colonel is an honorary title given in Kentucky to public figures. There’s a certain Colonel Sanders with whom you may also be familiar.
Bourbon is a protected term meaning that it is made in the USA with a mash bill of at least 51% corn and matured in a virgin American oak barrel. There’s a lot of technical specs too, but that’s the most important part. This is also labelled as a “Straight Bourbon”, which adds the stipulations that the spirit is not coloured or flavours, and has been matured for at least two years.
“Bottled In Bond” is a legal term in American whiskey that guarantees a certain higher level of quality by making the whiskey adhere to strict rules. It must only contain spirit distilled in one single distilling season (January to June or July to December), so no blending of older and younger stock together. It must be bottled at exactly 50% abv, and be at least four years aged in oak. Finally, the bottle must identify the distillery it was distilled at and it must have been matured in a government bonded warehouse. It may seem like a lot of rules, but in a country where you can legally mature a whiskey for only 5 seconds, it’s good to have some legally binding standards. And yes, there is a 5-second aged whiskey – it’s made by Pabst Blue Ribbon of all people! Buyer beware.
The last part of the puzzle here is “Small Batch”. While there are no legal protections for the term in the USA, it is common practice to use between 10 and 20 barrels in a small batch whiskey. This means there is a somewhat high chance of flavour variation throughout the years, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a model now being used across the pond with products like Aberlour A’bunadh and Monkey Shoulder.
Red apples greeted us first on the nose, and from there we dove straight into the pantry with dried banana chips, dark chocolate, dried apricots, and blueberry muffins.
On the palate, we had brown sugar, orange peel, toasted oats, nutmeg, licorice, honey nut cheerios, and oak. The finish was back where we started with the apples, but with a luxurious caramel coating.