E.H. Taylor Cured Oak

Colonel E. H. Taylor Cured Oak

Bottled-in-Bond (100 Proof)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Aged 17 Years

So here comes the 7th release under the Colonel E.H Taylor blanket from Buffalo Trace.  Of the seven, I’ve been able to try all the non-limited releases, but have yet to track down the Sour Mash or Warehouse C Tornado Surviving, but hey, I can keep dreaming.  Cured Oak is the most limited of all the seven releases, in fact they only shipped around 4,000 bottles–that’s pretty dang limited, and I’m lucky to have a good friend that procured this bottle for our group, at MSRP even.

So what’s the deal with E.H. Taylor Cured Oak?  Well, you may know that the vast majority of bourbons are aged in new, charred American White Oak barrels that are made from wood that has been “cured” (aged outdoors in open air) for about 6 months.  For this release, Buffalo Trace has aged the whiskey in barrels that were made from oak staves cured for 13 months, twice the normal amount of time.  Now what does that do to the wood, to the flavor?  There is definitely some science behind it, and if you want a more detailed explanation of that science check out this post on a great whiskey review site, Red, White & Bourbon.  But what you need to know is that curing the wood helps degrade the compounds in the oak to where they provide more desirable flavors to the whiskey.  So theoretically curing wood longer would provide even MORE desirable compounds, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Curing wood for too long can degrade the compounds to the point where you may be losing some diversity of flavors, creating a potential one-trick-pony whiskey.  But is that the case here?  Let’s find out.

Nosing this I’m surprised it’s not a total oak bomb–we are dealing with a 17 year old whiskey here.  The oak is definitely present, but if I didn’t know the age I’d guess it was a 10-12 year bourbon.  I contribute this to the longer curing period, though again the science behind this just makes my head hurt.  The nose is a bit restrained, not like I expect from a Buffalo Trace product.  I’m getting honey, pound cake, white grape jelly, and a hint of green apple.  It’s a bit juice boxy, not in a good way.

The palate is so surprising to me–it’s a total green apple takeover.  A bit of brown sugar and oak with a little bit of funkiness, like a barrel full of 17-year-old Sour Apple Blow Pops.  That sounds bad, but it’s kind of good actually.  There’s a hint of tobacco and an off-flavor I can’t name, I almost feel like I’ve never tasted it before, and I can only contribute it to the 13-month cured oak, but it’s a total mystery to me.  Medium bodied, long and complex finish that starts sweet, goes bitter, and finally finishes dry, oaky, and funky.

This bourbon is a tough one to rate.  It’s not unpleasant, it’s just not at all what I want to drink when I want to drink a bourbon.  This could easily have been released in the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, and I’m surprised they decided to market it under the Colonel E.H. Taylor line, though this whiskey was aged in Warehouse C–Colonel Taylor’s famous brick and limestone warehouse built in 1881 (and still standing!), so maybe they felt they had to put his name on it.  If you get a chance to buy a pour at a bar, absolutely go for it, but please don’t pay $300 for this on the secondary market unless you just have so much money you don’t know what to do with it!  Points for originality and MSRP, gotta love Buffalo Trace.

Rating 7.7 / 10

Purchased for $69.99 somewhere in Tennessee.  Yeah, it’s a secret!

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