Review: Col. E.H. Taylor Amaranth Bourbon
Buffalo Trace’s tenth installment in the vaunted Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. line is here, and it’s perhaps the most unusual in the collection to date, using amaranth as a flavoring grain instead of rye. (The remainder of the mash is corn and barley, made in the same proportions as Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill #1, and the finished product is bottled in bond.)
What’s amaranth? Per BT: “Amaranth was originally cultivated by the Aztecs and is called “the Grain of the Gods.” It is similar to wheat, but offers a complex taste with subtle flavors ranging from a nose of butterscotch and spearmint, to a finish of pecans and dark berries.”
Well, I’m excited to drink some amaranth. Let’s dive in.
Instantly, immediately, this comes across as a weird whiskey. Downright wacky at times, the nose is effusive with unexpected notes including pecan pie, cake frosting, and macerated cherries, all with a healthy undercurrent of oak staves. The palate is filled with drying spice and more oak, followed by notes of cherry wood and cherry pits — a more surly expression of cherry fruit than you might find in, say, a bottle of Baker’s. As it builds in the glass, vanilla takes center stage, followed by a slight green olive note leading to the finish. Here, the whiskey is again quite drying, with a lot of wood and a slight but lingering pecan praline note.
Again, it’s quite a strange whiskey — disjointed at times but definitely worth exploring at least once — if only to see what it’s like to drink like “the Gods.”