Whiskey & Vinyl: Col. E.H. Taylor Small Batch and James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’

Jim Casey03/05/23
Whiskey and Vinyl Colonel E H Taylor Small Batch and James Taylor's Sweet Baby James

photo by Outsider

For this week’s Whiskey & Vinyl, we’re filling our glass with E.H. Taylor while filling our ears with James Taylor.

Stick around for a double shot of Taylor.

Col. E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

(photo by Outsider)
  • Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • Location: Frankfort, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Age: Not Stated (4-Year minimum)
  • Mashbill: Not Stated (rumored BTD #1 low-rye)
  • Proof: 100
  • MSRP: $45
  • Full Review

Col. E.H. Taylor Small Batch opens with just a touch of light alcohol heat on the nose, before immediately easing into warm caramel. A deeper nosedive reveals dried fruit—apricot and some raisin—as well as the sweetness of a fresh-made corn tortilla. Finally, there’s a tinge of citrus in the form of orange zest. Fantastic.

On the palate, like the nose, there’s just a touch of heat that smooths out very quickly. Rich honeycomb and caramel are forefront. And then, it’s like a thick slice of fresh-baked cinnamon-raisin bread with a pat of melted butter. A bit of chewing reveals more creamy sweetness on the backside à la marshmallow creme.

The finish is medium and so, so mellow. Final notes of a rich Duck Fat Caramel and a touch of tobacco, with just the slightest hint of mint to remind you of the low-rye mashbill. Outstanding. Pour another one while you get the turntable spinning.

‘Sweet Baby James’

(photo by Outsider)
  • Artist: James Taylor
  • Year: 1970
  • RIAA: 3X Platinum (3 million copies)
  • Singles: “Sweet Baby Jame,” “Fire and Rain” (No. 3), “Country Road” (No. 37)

Sweet Baby James is sweet—just like E.H. Taylor bourbon—for a few reasons. Arguably, Taylor’s 1970 sophomore album is his best album, in a 50-plus-year career that spans 20 studio albums, as well as a handful of live albums and compilation albums. The 11-song album (Taylor wrote 10) was the seamless melding of folk and pop at the start of a decade that was trying to put the 1960s in the rear-view.

Inarguably, the project gave Taylor his first taste of chart success as the album’s second single, “Fire and Rain,” ascended to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Of course, now you can’t have a conversation about James Taylor without mentioning the iconic tune that addresses the suicide or his friend, Suzanne, and his own depression. And, of course, the album also features Taylor’s sweet title track. But the deep cuts are also, well, deep, especially the yin-yang (cheerful melody, dejected lyrics) of sentimental “Sunny Skies” and innocently beautiful imagery of “Blossom.”

Listen to Sweet Baby James with your grandfather or your kids. It’s a time-tested winner that soothes the soul.