Last week whilst sipping on the Elijah Craig 12 Year bourbon from Heaven Hills, it dawned on me that this bourbon could actually be named after a real person. This got me started on some research. This striking image, pictured to the left of this post, jumped out of the screen at me. Holding a pose relaxed enough to offer a welcoming side, he seemed to be someone I might like to get to know. This is a strong projection of a man of obvious education and cultivation, holding a determined look of somebody who really means business. I discovered this image was in fact Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr, who you might recognise as the name on Buffalo Trace (the only bourbon I know that comes in the scotch style cardboard tube). Up until this point I hadn’t thought much about the names on my bourbon bottles but this guy was the real deal.
E.H. Taylor, Jr. was the most remarkable man to enter the whisky industry during the post-American Civil War years. He represented a sharp break with the tradition of distilling as a simple manufacturing operation. He was an astute businessman able to push quality into every aspect of the business from merchandising, production, finance through to rendering important services to the industry as a whole. Certainly his biggest contribution to the industry was fighting for theBottled-in-Bond act of 1897. Before this act a cafe owner or barkeep could purchase the best barrel of bourbon he could find and do with it what he pleased. Once the proof gallon tax had been paid and the barrel withdrawn from the warehouse federal government intervention ceased and the quality no longer guaranteed. Bottled in those bonded warehouses meant you knew you were getting a certain defined quality. Before this act a distillers brand may have been a six year old whisky in one location and only a three in another.
Widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, E.H. Taylor, Jr. placed emphasis on pure goods and produced the brands Old Taylor, Hermitage and O.F.C. at his Old Fire Copper distillery. His barrels of whisky so consistent and of such high quality they commanded around 20 cents more a gallon than other whiskies. Colonel Taylor lived to the ripe old age of ninety and during his career purchased what is now known as the Buffalo Trace distillery where his innovative methods are still used today.
Below is the link to two great bourbons one should track down bearing this mans name. Like a lot of the current Buffalo Trace whiskies they can be tricky to locate but well worth doing so!