The 2018 E.H. Taylor Four Grain is finally here.
This is the second release of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain. The release of 2018 Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain from Buffalo Trace Distillery was much more anticipated than the 2017 release. To the dismay of most in the bourbon market, especially those in our area, the 2018 release was but a fraction of the 2017 release.
This is presumably due to two reasons. First, the 2017 E.H. Colonel Taylor FourGrain was selected as the overall winner for “Whiskey of the Year” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Hype ensued. Though Buffalo Trace had announced a follow-up release in 2018 before the 2017 bottle ever hit the market, thanks to Jim Murray, the 2018 release garnered much more anticipation.
The second presumed reason for the limited supply is the age. The 2017 release was aged for 12 years. Though the label on the back of the 2018 bottles still states that the bourbon is 12 years old, Buffalo Trace has gone on record saying it is actually 13 years old.
[Stay tuned for more information on the age difference and labeling of the 2017 release and 2018 release]
When we previously reviewed the 2017 E.H. Taylor Four Grain, we enjoyed it, but fell short of loving it. There was complexity and interest, but unlike Jim Murray, it was not the “best” we had in 2017, or even in the top five.
So, we naturally wondered if the 2018 E.H. Taylor Four Grain, being 13 years old instead of 12 years, would be better.
Here is our review of the 2018 Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain, followed by a revisit of the 2017 E.H. Taylor Four Grain for comparison:
2018 Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain (13 years old, 100 proof)
Nose: Fruity right up front, with some strawberry and some cherry; Fun Dip stick; oak, but not nearly as much as expected given the 13 year age; brown sugar and caramel latte; floral, but also earthy with some potting soil and wet firewood; dry Wheaties flakes; more ethanol than the 2017 bottle; old library books; vanilla develops with more time in the glass. 3/5
Palate: The oak is much stronger than on the nose; some metallic texture and waxy apple skin; envelope adhesive that is off-putting; some cloves and cardamom; the fruit and floral notes from the nose are almost completely absent, but return with a bit of water, developing into black cherry and raspberry; water also improves the texture, but yields some sharp white sugar sweetness too. 3.5/5
Finish: Takes a turn toward tannic bitterness almost immediately; continues to get drier with time; that envelope adhesive taste unfortunately lingers with some oak and very dark chocolate/cocoa. 2.5/5
Overall: This was interesting, but in a completely positive way. It felt a bit disjointed, trying to mix the sweet/fruit/floral notes with an earthy/dry/envelope adhesive profile. The attempted marriage of these four grains seems to be at odds more than being cohesive. Despite all of this, there still were some positive attributes. But, this just doesn’t have enough synergy to result in anything more than a basic level of satisfaction. 3/5
Value: This retails for $69.99, most bottles never even saw the retail store shelves. The secondary market pricing is nearly $500. At retail, this is actually a bit disappointing, given that there are other 12-year age stated bourbons at 100 proof or more (Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Knob Creek store picks) that we enjoyed much better at less cost. 2.5/5.
2017 Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain (12 years old, 100 proof)
Nose: A burst of fruit at the forefront, most notably strawberry, raspberry, and maraschino cherry; then oak and cedar; Floral – rose petals and hydrangeas, and slightly bordering on perfume; some grassy notes, almost like hay; some light caramelized sugar and brown sugar; pecans; it resembles a lemon bar crossed with strawberry shortcake. 3.5/5
Palate: Oily mouthfeel; caramel apple candy, strawberry, maraschino cherry, overripe raspberry; some milk chocolate; some rye spice and pepper on the back palate; breakfast cereal; the biggest takeaway is the dried strawberry Frosted Flakes cereal taste. 4/5
Finish: Medium-long. Not quite mouthcoating, but the oily texture keeps it from feeling dry; milk chocolate covered strawberries; baked apple; the rye spice is also notable here; some light nutmeg and spearmint. some strawberry cotton candy. 3.5
Overall: This outshines the 2018 E.H. Taylor Four Grain, but again, is not something that we would necessarily reach for over a Knob Creek Single Barrel store pick or a Four Roses Private Selection. We liked this better than we did at the time of our initial review. It is good, at times very good, but not great, not “best.” 3.5/5
Value: At retail of $69.99, this is enjoyable enough to bring satisfaction, knowing also that it is a 12-year bonded product with some intrigue as to the four grain mash. But, for much more than retail, this score would probably quickly slip. 3/5
Stephen is a regular writer at FlightClubICT.com