The Bourbon Review: Bardstown Fusion No. 7, Colonel E H Taylor Small Batch and Knob Creek 9 year old


So today we have a trio of bourbons as I look to expand my knowledge and palate on a side of whisky that frankly I haven't spent a huge amount of time on. Let's face it the bourbon selection in supermarkets or even specialist stores can be a bit underwhelming, much like the Irish and Scotch sections are in American liquor stores. Add to that the sometimes quite spicy prices compared to what we can get from Irish and Scotch equivalents and it's likely the bourbon will get a hard pass.

It may also be that like me your early experiences of bourbon were the marketing masters such as Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam......truly not great experiences. But surely things must be able to improve from such a low bar. Well thankfully I'm here to help you navigate such difficult and choppy waters.

Today we've a trio of bourbons from Bardstown, Colonel E H Taylor and Knob Creek.

Bardstown Bourbon Company was founded in 2014 but didn't start distilling until 2016. It's one of America's largest distilleries with 100 acres of farmland, a 37,000 sq. ft distillery that can produce 110,000 barrels of whisky a year. A big part of Bardstown's model is custom distilling for other clients and this has allowed them to create 50 unique mashbills for over 30 spirits brands including brands such as James E Pepper, Calumet and Jefferson's High West.

With the Fusion series they take their own young whiskey and blend it with older, sourced whiskies. The make up of the no.7 is as follows:

54% Bardstown 3 year old - 75% corn/21% rye/4% malted barley
10% Bardstown 3 year old - 60% corn/40% rye
  6% Bardstown 3 year old - 60% corn/26% rye/10% wheat/4% malted barley
20% Kentucky 12 year old - 78% corn/10% rye/12% malted barley
10% Kentucky 12 year old - 75% corn/13% rye/12% malted barley

It cost me $60.

Next up is the Colonel E H Taylor Small Batch. This is part of the Buffalo Trace family which is extensive to say the least. The Small Batch is the entry dram of the Colonel E H Taylor family with 12 varieties listed on the Buffalo Trace website. The Small Batch is 'Bottled in Bond' which means it must be the product of one production season and one distiller at a single distillery, aged in federally bonded warehouse for a minimum of four years and be bottled at exactly 100 proof or 50% abv.

Colonel E H Taylor is an actual historical figure and not some mere marketing ploy. He bought what is now the O.F.C. Distillery (that stands for 'Old Fashioned Copper') in 1869 and is celebrated for many innovations such as copper fermentation vessels, column stills and a more efficient sour mash technique. He was also instrumental in achieving the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897.

Buffalo Trace have two primary mashbills that make up the majority of their brands. BT don't disclose the makeups of these but it is thought that Mash bill #1 10% or less rye while Mash bill #2  is between 10% and 12% rye. The wheated Mash bill is believed to be over 15% wheat and the rye Mash bill is thought to be just 51% rye.

Bardstown Fusion Series No. 7 49.05% abv

Nose: Quite a muted affair but once it opens up a little it's sweet and woody. Vanilla, butterscotch, a bit of cask char, clementines and pecans. A light cherry note and an almost cognac like note too.

Palate: Mouthfeel is a little thin to be honest. Marzipan, crème brulee, pecans and almonds. Baking spices and toasted oak. Red fruit in the form of cranberry, cherry and strawberry too. Rye spices build mid palate before some tobacco leaf appears.

Finish: Short with fudge sweetness, cask char and oak tannins

Score: 5 out of 10

Colonel E H Taylor Small Batch 50% abv

Nose: Initially there is a kick of alcohol verging on acetone - underneath there are gummy bears, butterscotch, candied orange, cherry and marshmallow. A touch of pine resin too with multigrain bread and black pepper. Vanilla car scent too.

Palate: A surprisingly muted arrival especially considering the abv. Corn heavy - buttered popcorn, vanilla and charred oak. Some rye spice with cinnamon, clove, a little mint and some dark chocolate orange segments.

Finish: Short length with lingering alcohol heat, mild baking spices and tannic oak.

Score: 4 out of 10

Knob Creek 9 year old 50% abv

Nose: Buttered popcorn, caramel, peanuts and vanilla. Battenburg cake. Lemond curd, black pepper, nutmeg and some dried chilli flakes. Cedar and oak.

Palate: Very sippable considering the abv. Caramelised sugar, vanilla, gingerbread and a mix of almonds and peanuts. A little clove with a nice rye peppery warmth. Some menthol as well as a pleasant oakiness.

Finish: Quite short with peanut brittle, a hint of tobacco and vanilla.

Score: 5 out of 10


Well so far nothing to convert me to drinking bourbon as a staple. The Bardstown was a decent sipper, perfectly sessionable with mates but it did nothing to wow me. At the price there's certainly plenty of Irish and Scotch whiskies that outperform it.

What can I say about the Colonel E H Taylor? Well it's another case of hype over reality I'm afraid. I mean £100 buys you a lot of great whisky from Ireland and Scotland, the list is literally too long to even attempt. I mean the Colonel Taylor is okay but it loses a mark for the frankly mental pricing. I'd happily recommend Buffalo Trace over this if you're in the mood for a bourbon and you'd also save yourself a considerable wad of cash. If you really wanted to splurge buy the Eagle Rare 10 year old and you could still buy 3 bottles of it for the price of one of these Taylor's. I can't quite believe I'm going to type this but I'd take a JD single barrel over the Taylor.

Moving on we have the last part of the trio, the Knob Creek. Much like the Bardstown this is a decent, simple sipper. It isn't going to blow your mind. Again go for an Eagle Rare or Wild Turkey 101. In fact the Wild Turkey Rare Breed isn't much more and is much more enjoyable.

I have plenty more bourbon to come so let's see if the scores can pull a little higher in the future!

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