Small Batch= Sm, Single Barrel= SB, Barrel Proof= BP
Maker: Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, Kentucky, USA (Sazerac)
Age: NAS (Sm and SB are BiB, so at least 4 y/o)
Style: High corn bourbons
Sm & SB: 100 (50% ABV)
BP: 127.2 (63.6% ABV)
Notes: Barrel Proof is un(chill?)filtered
Michigan State Minimum
Sm: Light copper
SB: Darker copper
BP: Slightly darker than the SB. Auburn, maybe?
Sm: Leather, alcohol, caramel, grape soda, cut grass.
SB: Even more leathery. Grape juice, alcohol, hay.
BP: More balanced. Peanut brittle, roasted corn, leather, purple koolaid.
Sm: Mild and sweet then slowly warms up. Caramel and little else.
SB: Fuller bodied with more oak. Drier but still has a sweet backbone with a pinch of allspice.
BP: Fully full bodied. Big grassy entry, prune then slow burn. Water brings out sweet caramel and cotton candy with oak and cola on the back end.
Sm: cherry juice, oak, caramel, sage.
SB: Following the pattern. Similar to the Sm but more intense. Brown sugar, allspice, oak, burn.
BP: Bursts into the room big and hot, but leaves gracefully. Oak, caramel, splash of black cherry then fades to a delicate fruit flavor.
Parting words: I’ve had these three sitting around for a long time. I had hoped to review them a few times before but never had the time to do a three-way review like I wanted. With other bloggers reviewing Col. Taylor again, I got inspired.
All three of these are Buffalo Trace’s #1 mashbill (Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Benchmark, Stagg). This is the core range, with limited editions popping up from time to time like the Old Fashioned Sour Mash, Tornado Survivor, Seasoned Oak and a possible Opossum Survivor edition in the near future. There is also a rye that occasionally shows up. It is a different mashbill from the standard Sazerac rye, though.
I enjoyed all three of these quite a bit. The prices are a bit wonky, though. $40 is OK for Sm, but why is SB $20 more? It’s better, but not really $20 better. The Barrel Proof is excellent at $70, unless one considers that Stagg Jr, also cask strength, mashbill #1 and NAS is $50. BP is better than Stagg Jr. but I’m not sure if it’s $20 better. Complicating matter is that George T. Stagg is listed at a minimum price of $80 in Michigan. So I’m not sure what to tell you. All are recommended, but I’d have to give the edge to Sm because its price is not weirdly impacted by the Staggs or its CEHT siblings. You can’t go wrong with the other two either, though.