Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch Review

This is the cheapest of the core Colonel EHT lineup from Buffalo trace. It’s a NAS small batch expression that’s bottled in bond and thus bottled at 50% ABV.

Nose: A bit musty and closed of at first before heavy oak and banana bread poke through. Cloves and nutmeg emerge with a bit of acetone lurking in the background.

Palate: Some weird metallic note up front before turning leathery with anise and toasted oak. Fairly basic palate lacking some of the spicier notes from the nose.

Finish: Cloves come back with a nutty, musty oak and a bit of wheat bread.

Rating: 83/100 – A pretty standard, young BIB bourbon. Would be nice for an every day drinker.

Value for the money: I typically see these around $38 or so which makes a good value buy.

2013 Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Review

This is the 2013 release of the Van Winkle Rye which is 13 years old and bottled at 47.8% ABV.

Nose: Fresh rye bread with a blend of cherries and grapes lingering in the background adding some subtle sweet notes. Perfect level of oak here with some nice baking spices and vanilla.

Palate: Oak more prominent and turning just slightly bitter before the spicy rye kicks in with some old leather, baking chocolate, and subtle plums.

Finish: Rye pulls out front ahead of the oak and lingers with a bit of sawdust and stewed fruits.

Rating: 93/100 – An excellent rye that is right about the perfect age for my taste as the grain still comes off fresh without the oak taking over completely and turning it bitter. Nice to pick up some fruit notes which can sometimes be hard to find in an older straight rye.

Value for the money: At retail, these would make one of the best buys around were they readily available. Sadly expect to pay $750+ on the secondary for one, and I would never advocate paying that much for a bottle.

Thomas H Handy Rye 2015 Review

This is the 2015 release of the Thomas H Handy rye. It’s an NAS expression that is assumed to be around 6 years old, and it’s bottled at 63.45% ABV.

Nose: Warm, buttery rye bread heavy on the yeast notes. Cocoa powder/rich fudge with butterscotch notes.

Palate: Bold rye with peppery oak, tobacco, vanilla, fresh mint, and chocolate covered cherries.

Finish: Heat is quite strong on finish and washes out some of the notes except dry oak and fresh ground rye grains.

Rating: 90/100 – Typically one of my favorite of the BTAC releases as it really is close to the sweet spot for me in the age of rye whiskies I prefer.

Value for the money: If found at retail, it’s a great buy at $80 or so. This is the cheapest of the BTAC on secondary and can usually be found for around $200 which is a bit too much for me personally.

Eagle Rare 10/101 (Frankfort) Review

This is a discontinued 10 year Eagle Rare expression that was distilled at Buffalo Trace and bottled at 50.5% ABV.

Nose: Great sweet profile full of thick brown sugar, butterscotch, nutmeg, and the perfect level of oak.

Palate: Sugary oak up front with sweet maple syrup, french vanilla, and caramel.

Finish: Vanilla and cereal notes continue on with charred oak and butterscotch.

Rating: 92/100 – Very solid expression hitting all of the notes I really like in a bourbon.

Value for the money: I haven’t seen one of these sold in awhile, but they are generally a lot less expensive than the NOLA distillery ones. I’d venture to guess this would run $300+ at a minimum currently, and I’d pass at that price. I’d be happy to pay up to $130 retail or so if these were still available.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Review

This is part of the core range of E.H. Taylor bottles from Buffalo Trace. It’s a single barrel expression bottled at 50% ABV.

Nose: Applejacks, caramelized oak, green grapes, and a savory corn mash. Quintessential bourbon nose for the most part (maybe not the Applejacks) – quite nice.

Palate: Sawdust, brown sugar, butterscotch, creamed corn and oak. Again, no surprises here.

Finish: Light oak, slightly sweet and buttery, but rather short overall.

Rating: 80/100 – Finish was a letdown, and nose and palate were what you would expect at a minimum for a bourbon. Overall, a nice expression, but nothing very exciting – an easy sipper.

Value for the money: These retail around $50-$60 I believe, and I’d pass at that price point as I’d rather buy a FR Single Barrel, Blanton’s or RHF among other bourbons.

 

George T. Stagg (2014) Review

This is the 2014 release of George T. Stagg from Buffalo Trace which was bottled at 69.05% ABV.

Nose: Big, bruiser of a bourbon full of french vanilla, heavy burnt oak, sweet corn, and pipe tobacco.

Palate: Nice mouthfeel with more charred oak, tobacco, and a bit of vanilla. The high proof on this makes it harder for me to really explore it in depth.

Finish: Burnt oak, cola, and creamed corn.

Rating: 89/100 – The 2014 Stagg was very well regarded in general, but for me, it strikes me as an average Stagg – not one that I would put far above the others I’ve tried in the past e.g. 2012 GTS and 2013 GTS

Value for the money: As with any BTAC – I would never pay secondary prices (currently probably $450ish). At retail, they’re a fantastic buy if you can find one.

Pappy Van Winkle 23 (2013) Review

This is the 23 year expression from the Pappy Van Winkle 2013 release which is bottled at 47.8% ABV.

Nose: Super sweet wheat and rich vanilla with old oak mixed with a bit of sawdust. Brown sugar and cinnamon round out a very sweet nose.

Palate: Very oak forward, rapidly turning bitter and slightly soapy. The wheat is still present, but the other sweeter notes get buried beneath the oak unfortunately.

Finish: Oak dials down just a bit but still dominant here. Subtle banana bread accompanies the oak lasting quite some time.

Rating: 85/100 – The nose is great as with most of the other PVW expressions, but this one is too overoaked once you get past that.

Value for the money: As anyone who is a bourbon fan knows, PVW is extremely hyped and priced through the roof on the secondary since these bottles are so rare/hard to acquire. The retail for these has been around $250-$300 the last few years, but on the secondary these have crept up to close to $2000 in the past year. As with any of the PVW on the secondary, it is simply not worth anything close to secondary values.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Review

This is an older bottling of the standard Blanton’s Single Barrel (bottle stamped 1996). It’s NAS and bottled at 46.5% ABV.

Nose: Very grain forward with heavy corn notes. Quite oaky with a nice honeydew melon note.

Palate: Sweet up front with heavy corn and subtle oak. Light fruits, but deep in the background.

Finish: A little pepper here with sweet red apples and vanilla.

Rating: 88/100

Value for the money: Blanton’s usually retails around $50 and makes a great buy as they’re usually pretty solid.

Blanton’s Special Reserve (Green Label) Review

This is an export bottling that Blanton’s does outside the US. It’s NAS and bottled at 40% ABV.

Nose: Lots of maraschino cherries surrounded by vanilla, mild oak, and caramel.

Palate: Earthy with musty oak – a bit of the cherry lingers with candy corn and caramel.

Finish: Lots of oak here with a bit of smoke and corn mash.

Rating: 85/100

Value for the money: These retail abroad for $50 or so, and I think it’s an ok price. However, to get them shipped to the US, it’s often closer to $80+ which is not worth it.

Blanton’s Silver Edition Review

This is a discontinued Blanton’s expression that was a Duty-Free bottling from a few years back. It was bottled at 49% ABV.

Nose: Sweet mash with a little acetone, candy corn, and small traces of rotted oak.

Palate: Oak heavy with caramel and cereal notes. Small traces of vanilla, but fairly bland overall.

Finish: Dry with a touch of sugar and burnt oak.

Rating: 78/100 – Muted overall – one of my least favorite Blanton’s expressions I’ve had.

Value for the money: These probably go for $200+ on secondary currently, and that’s a super easy pass.