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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Spring Whiskies: Old Taylor 6 year old Straight Bourbon (1991 bottling)

To all the folks who lust after Stitzel-Weller dusties, y'all can have 'em (except maybe leave a single Old Fitz for me somewhere).  My preference is for the stuff National Distillers used to make.  If you want to read about a man falling in luff with ND-era Old Taylor, see my post from March of 2014.  Also, I encourage you to read that post for more information and good links about Old Taylor.  Today's post will focus just on this particular bottle.

This particular bottle, found in a neighborhood liquor store, cost all of $12.19 before tax.  The bottle itself is from 1991...
...which means that this was likely from the last batches of the old label old version of Old Taylor.  After this it was replaced by an all-Beam version of OT.  Like my 1987 bottle, this one lists both Frankfort (ND's home of Old Taylor and Old Crow distilleries) and Clermont (Beam), KY.  It also has the National Distillers UPC prefix 86259.
But unlike my beloved 1985 and 1987 bottles this bourbon was bottled at 40% ABV, rather than 43%.  And that, as I shall now demonstrate, makes a difference.

Owner: Beam Inc at time of bottling
Distilled by: National Distillers
Brand: Old Taylor
Distillery: possibly at Old Crow Distillery, some older spirit may be from Old Taylor Distillery but that's very doubtful in this instance
Location: Frankfort, Kentucky / Clermont, Kentucky
Mash Bill: ???
Age: minimum 6 years old; though it has been suggested by Michael Jackson that 10+ year old whiskey is in the mix
ABV: 40% ABV
Bottle year: 1991

Its color is dark gold.  The nose leads with cinnamon, rye, and vanilla custard.  Small perky highlights of dried blueberries, raspberry candy, and tangerines appear from time to time.  Then there's barrel char, bubblegum, jasmine, and denim.  With 30+ minutes in the glass, the whiskey picks up more rye-ish spices and a lot of caramel.  The palate is charry, slightly bitter, slightly sweet.  And watery.  There's a hint of soap, though that's due to bottle oxidation as I've found with all of my dusty Old Taylors; if I don't empty the bottle in two months, the soap demons come to take it away.  There's a very rich vanilla note which is met by cayenne pepper, tart berries, and tart citrus.  Time in the glass makes it slightly fruitier and bitterer.  The finish is simple but of decent length.  Sweet, floral, peppery.  The palate's berries sweeten up here.  The soap note shows up briefly.

I didn't add water due to the palate's thin nature, but I have put it on the rocks during a couple hot weekends.  With ice, it turns into a refreshing vanilla and halvah sipper.

The noses on these dusty Old Taylors leave me wonderfully prone to superb superlatives.  They're my favorite bourbon sniffers, and one of my favorite whisk(e)y smells overall.  (I can confirm the gorgeous aromas also show up in National Distillers' Old Grand Dad bourbons too.)  I don't know if this is due to decades in the bottle, or that this stuff used to smell this great back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s.  I've never smelled anything like it in contemporary whiskies.

On the other hand, the palate was disappointing, even discounting the soap note.  OT was excellent at 43% (and 50%) abv, but Beam seems to have broken it by reducing it to 40%.  In my stash there's an '89 that's 43% and a '90 that's 40%.  So it seems as if Beam tried to stretch out the last of their ND stocks during the final couple of years.  A bummer indeed.  It's not terrible, but it falls far short of the nose.  I might just finish off the last couple ounces on the rocks the next time the heat jumps above 90ºF.

Availability - Happy hunting!
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82 (gained a couple points by working well on the rocks, but if the palate had matched the nose then this would have been near 90)

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