Rye or Wheat? E.H. Taylor Says Both

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E.H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain bourbon is a 12-year-old whiskey that you’re already running out of time to get your hands on. This bourbon is a special recipe for one particular reason: it contains both rye and wheat. The “four grains” referred to on the label are corn (obviously), malted barley, wheat, and rye.

There is plenty of controversy surrounding rye bourbon (Four Roses, Buffalo Trace) compared with wheated bourbon (Maker’s Mark, Pappy Van Winkle), but the simple truth is that rye in a whiskey delivers more spicy, bold flavor, and wheat has more subtle, mellowed flavors. Neither grain is inherently better (no matter what your uncle tells you) — you just have to know what to do with them.

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In a possible attempt to end the debate once-and-for-all, Buffalo Trace (who makes E.H. Taylor) has mixed them together. The rye here provides an herbal, earthy character to Four Grain. It’s even a little smoky. Meanwhile, the wheat acts like a gloss coat, softening those spicier elements.

Limited edition bottles from the Taylor label never get comfortable on shelves before being purchased. Part of the hype is that the E. H. Taylor name is a well-respected one even among a portfolio that includes Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, and Pappy Van Winkle. It’s lesser known, but its fans are devotees, because they know that E. H. Taylor is Buffalo Trace’s showcase brand for performance art.

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The Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. series has included some amazing bottles of whiskey since it was released in 2011, and their desirability is only eclipsed by their scarcity. The Taylor Name has been associated with Buffalo Trace since the late 1800s. Taylor himself, the great nephew of president Zachary Taylor, and, you know, a one-time owner of Buffalo Trace, was a major champion of the Bottled-in-Bond act.

So yeah, Taylor bottles are popular. And they can be hard to find, even when we tell you about them the same week they ship out. The good news is that, unlike some previous offerings, Buffalo Trace promises that Four Grain will return in 2018. But by then the secret may be out. $70, buffalotracedistillery.com

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