We’ve been dragging our feet on Buffalo Trace’s recent installments to the E. H. Taylor, Jr. line, but it’s not entirely our fault. Every bottle in the standard Taylor lineup has become a hot commodity, which means limited releases like this one are now almost impossible to track down, let alone afford once you actually locate them. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, we were finally able to nab a sample of 2020’s hyper-rare offering, 18 Year Marriage.
Following 2019’s Amaranth, a truly wacky whiskey made from an unusual grain (with no age statement), Trace decided to get back to basics and give their adoring fans what they really want: old bourbon. That’s not to say that this one isn’t also pretty unique in its composition. In addition to being a healthy 18 years old, Marriage is a blend of all three Buffalo Trace signature bourbon mashbills (two different rye mashbills and the vaunted Weller wheated mashbill). While anything with the Taylor label on it is always limited, the considerable age on this one surely makes it one of Taylor’s rarer offerings to date. Let’s see how this unicorn fares, shall we?
First things first, the color. I don’t typically remark on the color of a whiskey, but the golden hue here certainly doesn’t suggest nearly two decades of barrel aging. The nose is similarly confounding, light and airy but still showcasing surprising complexity. Notes of buttercream frosting, apple pie filling, and poundcake lean heavily toward the confectionary, but a bit of seasoned oak helps to balance some of that sweetness. As it opens, an oily citrus quality takes over. On the palate, things remain delicate with a minimal amount of oak influence, which is again remarkable given the age. Bright notes of cinnamon candy and peppermint linger with some tongue-tingling spice, transitioning to split vanilla bean and whole cloves before dissolving into a gently warming finish. Not until the conclusion does the oak really arrive, mildly astringent and finally showing some maturity with rich notes of gingerbread and dark baking chocolate. Really engaging stuff and worth every penny of its original $70 SRP, but I personally wouldn’t dig much deeper in my wallet.
A- / $3000 / buffalotracedistillery.com