Our Tasting Notes On The World’s Best Bourbon, According To The International Wine And Spirits Competition

Every few years, we’re told about some new “greatest whiskey in the world.” This was the case back in 2015, when a lesser-known Taiwanese whisky, Kavalan Vinho Barrique, was named the best single malt on earth — beating out all of the well-known Scottish and Japanese brands at the World Whiskies Awards. That same year, a bargain $30 bottle of Crown Royal North Harvest Rye was named the best whisky in the world, too, after earning 97.5 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

Flash forward to last year, when Henry McKenna 10-year-old Bottled-in-Bond, another $30 bottle, won the award for best bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Or just a few weeks ago, when Stagg Jr. scored a 98 at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Another day, another competition, another “best bottle” — this is part of the hype machine that powers the whiskey world.

Today brings us newly minted “king of all whiskeys”: Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond (Straight Kentucky Bourbon). This bottle has been winning awards and finding itself in liquor cabinets all over the country for years. It’s maintained a strong following and is part of a much-lauded line of whiskeys. It’s also (theoretically) affordable — retailing for around $70. But good luck finding it for anywhere even close to that price now that it’s been award a 99 out of 100 by the judges at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC).

Like the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the IWSC uses a double-blind method, ensuring that judges never see a bottle. However, the IWSC relies more on synchronized tastings and discussion amongst panelists — many of whom are distillers themselves. In short, these are trusted voices in the industry. But we figured the E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bottled-In-Bond needed one more cosign… ours.

Check our tasting notes on this expression below.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond

ABV: 50%

Distillery Name: Buffalo Trace

Average Price: $129.99

The Story:

Like all the bottles in the E.H. Taylor, Jr. Collection, Single Barrel was named for Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. The descendant of not one but two different presidents (James Madison and Zachary Taylor). It seems like Taylor was destined for success by name alone, but he didn’t sit idly and just enjoy the fruits of his surname. He was one of the main voices in the passing of the Bottle-in-Bond Act of 1897, which declared that bottled-in-bond whiskey must be produced by one distillery in one season, age for eat least four years in a federally bonded warehouse, and be bottled at 100 proof.

If not for that singular act of legislation alone, we wouldn’t be sitting here writing about Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond. It might not even exist.

The most exciting thing about this bourbon is the fact that many of the barrels used to make it were actually aged in Warehouse C at Buffalo Trace, a warehouse constructed by E.H. Taylor way back in 1881. On top of that, the barrels used to make this expression were hand-selected by master distiller Harlan Wheatley.

Tasting Notes (UPROXX):

A bourbon of this caliber shouldn’t be gulped down without giving it the respect it deserves. This isn’t Old Grand-Dad (although we sip that too). This deserves a long nosing to literally breathe in all the various complexities.

Right away, there’s an obvious charred oak aroma that comes with well-aged whiskeys. This is followed by creamy caramel and sweet vanilla bean. Once you’ve savored the scents and prepared yourself for the first sip, dive right in, you’ll be met with dried fruits, rich leather, toffee, subtle tobacco, and more rich vanilla. The finish is smooth, creamy, luxurious, and ends with a pleasing hint of pepper.

All in all, a whisky worthy of its praises and one that you’ll be really bummed to finish off. If you can ever get ahold of it in the first place.

Tasting Notes (IWSC):

“A broodingly dark, intense nose of bitter chocolate, subtle rye and balanced fresh fruit. Buttery smooth with elegant peach and touches of pepper, a nutty back palate and refined spicy oak. Classical scotch typicity with an engagingly fruity finish.”