The Wonders of Wood

EH Taylor Seasoned Wood Bottle & Canister
EH Taylor Seasoned Wood Bottle & Canister

Buffalo Trace Distillery is known for its penchant to experiment with each part of the bourbon-making process, and its latest release, the Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Seasoned Wood, is a mighty fine result from one such experiment. Of course, none of the tweaks and tinkering is meant to take away from or change what makes bourbon bourbon. With a tip of the hat to its namesake — one of bourbon’s founding fathers, Col. Taylor — this new expression is also Bottled in Bond, making it a 100 proof. It's a small batch wheat recipe bourbon that has been aged well over 10 years.

So what’s so different about it? The barrels in which the whiskey aged underwent a variety of seasoning processes and were developed and crafted specially for this project by Independent Stave Company and Dr. James Swan, a leading expert on oak maturation.

Some staves soaked in an enzyme-rich, hot water bath and then were placed into a kiln. Some were seasoned outdoors for six months. And other staves were left outdoors for a full year before being made into barrels. The result is a distinct flavor profile unlike any other wheated bourbon.

From the first sip, the bourbon is warm but not hot for being 100 proof. A blanket of caramel and vanilla washes over the tongue, followed by a sweet, seductive burst of dried fruit with just a hint of spicy clove. It has a nice amber hue from spending so much time in the barrels, and its consistency is soft and balanced.

If you’ll allow me to go out on a limb, I’d say if Grandma made whiskey, this would be it. It’s both familiar yet striking. Just like her apple pie, you know it’s made from scratch using a hand-me-down recipe she keeps in her head. By allowing the wood to season so long outdoors, nature has nurtured a bourbon that’s truly one of a kind.

The Col. Taylor Seasoned Wood is the eighth release in the collection, which first debuted in 2011. Some of the others have included Single Barrel Bourbon, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, Barrel Proof Bourbon, Straight Rye Whiskey, and Cured Oak Bourbon, among others.

This special one-time-only release and should hit store shelves later this month for a suggested retail price of $69.99 for a 750ml bottle. It’ll be sold in a unique wooden box modeled after crates once used by Taylor to transport goods before Prohibition.