Col. E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon
Color in glencairn glass: Soft, neutral amber-copper.
Nose: Heavy barrel, ripe banana, varnish, vanilla, cinnamon. Rum cake, nutmeg, orange rind. This is a thick nose that goes and goes (and goes)!
Taste: The nice bit of sweet caramel on the entry introduces a sooty palate. The sooty notes show well, acting to hold together the sweeter orange meringue, scorched corn and thick caramel. The finish hints at nutty Cracker Jack before bringing an appropriately spicy bourbon sting. Cinnamon, vanilla and heavy caramel all linger for between-sips chewing.
This bourbon takes some chances, and the risks really pay off. The soot gives it a rough and satisfying bite and mouthfeel, and the nutty caramel corn on the Cracker Jack finish provides a bit of an exotic wink. Like the other Col. E.H. Taylor (CEHT) releases, it carries its proof very well. A damaging tornado has affected a tasty bourbon for an over-priced line.
You can read about the story behind this bourbon here, but in short, it was part of a batch of barrels that spent a summer exposed to the elements as repairs took place on a roof that was destroyed by a tornado. The press release speaks of barrels ranging in age from 9 years, 8 months to 11 years, 11 months old, however, as a Bottled in Bond (BiB) bourbon, any single bottle can contain bourbon only from barrels that were filled in the same season. Unfortunately, neither the label nor the packaging include any information about which seasons’ barrels filled the bottle. This opens the door to variability between bottles, but most of the buzz I’ve seen calls out this release as the favorite among the three. It’s bolder than the previous releases, and achieves a very successful profile, but I have fond memories of the the first release Sour Mash, so I must reserve my final ranking for when I can get a hold of another bottle.
Buffalo Trace (BT) would like to consider the CEHT brand their rye-recipe equivalent to the prestigious, wheated Van Winkle line. As the Van Winkle bourbons transition to BT-distilled juice and their character changes a bit, so does their price; four years ago I could walk into a Binny’s and buy a bottle of Pappy 15 off the shelf for under $45. The price has risen to $60, and I do not expect that inflation to cease any time soon. Rather than crafting a superb bourbon that merits a $75 price tag, BT has invented a brand whose first priority is to be expensive. They have created a slot and are looking for bourbons to slide into it, whether they are worth the cost to the consumer or not. I appreciate the qualification of BiB in any product, and I hope that the CEHT line remains consistent in its use, but I don’t consider that it has anything to do with justifying the premium price.
I look forward to the CEHT whiskeys continuing to improve, but I fear that the bourbon market as a whole will see significant price increases before the bourbons used in the brand earn what is the $75 price standard today. In my mind, BT’s pricing of this line communicates the fact that in the years to come, $75 will be the new $50 price-point when it comes to American whiskey.