Bourbon Review: Col. E.H. Taylor Cured Oak

E.H. Taylor Cured Oak Reviewed

With spring bourbon releases in a pretty dismal state EH Taylor Cured Oak (see the specs for Cured Oak here) showed up to save the day for Bourbonrs. Like most hyped bourbon releases (or any limited edition release for that matter) it came with some controversy. The secondary prices quickly rose to $400+ before it was released in most states. Reviews varied greatly. Some claimed it was excellent (Pappy 2.0) and well worth any price tag while others found it to be terrible and way too bitter. I was lucky enough to secure a bottle at retail, now to find one of those boxes, and decided to give it a try.

EH Taylor Cured Oak  Review

I first tried Cured Oak at a bar and couldn’t believe anyone had anything bad to say about it. It was sweet, fruity and finished with a nice dry woody note. As with most opinions that differ from mine, I wrote the bad reviews off as “idiots that don’t know what they’re talking about”. When it came time to crack my own bottle the anticipation was at an all time high. Like an over inflated balloon my hopes and expectation quickly burst after the first few sips. It was harsh and kind of sweet but no real balance. WHAT HAPPENED?! I couldn’t believe it. It was like drinking 2 completely different bourbons. At the advice from a few friends I let the bottle open up for a couple weeks before going back to review. The results?

I decided to review Cured Oak against the 2013 and 2014 Eagle Rare 17 (Both ER’s were actually 19 years old) since they all come from Buffalo Traces Mash Bill #1

Colonel E.H. Taylor Cured Oak Review:

Caramel, woody sweet, bananas and dried orange peel. Sweet and fruity taste with a sweet tea finish. Much improved over the first time I tasted it but there’s still a little harshness on the finish

2013 Eagle Rare 17 Review:

Drier, tobacco and spiced plums. There’s cinnamon and sweetness but the overall taste is dry and woody. It’s kind of like an old spiced fruit cake.

2014 Eagle Rare 17 Review:

Lighter and fruitier. Somewhere between the CO and ’13. Sweet and complex. There’s some nice spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) with an oak finish.

Overall, EH Taylor Cured Oak is very good. I’m bias because I really like Buffalo Trace and I paid retail. However, if given the option to choose between these three bottles I’d have a hard time choosing the Cured Oak over the 2014 ER 17. The have a very similar nose and taste but the finish on the ’14 ER 17 was  slightly better to me. The ’13 ER 17 was a distant third. As far as cured staves go I’m not sure I could taste a noticeable difference. It was definitely a good bourbon.

The question everyone will ask is “Is it worth the price?” That depends. Are we talking retail ($70-$100) or secondary ($350+) pricing? I think a better question would be “Is any bottle worth $350+?” There are some bottles I’ve spent $350+ on but 99.9% of those buys are from discontinued distilleries or brands. I can’t imagine paying those prices for a current release.


    No bourbon is worth $300 plus. Not Pappy, Stagg etc. It irks me when retail stores inflate their selling prices because they know eventually someone will cough up the bucks for it. This store near me is asking $3500 for Pappy 23 and 3k for the 20 and now he wants 500 for George T Stagg! Nothing can taste that good. I have been drinking bourbon for forty years. I have had Pappy, Stagg the original Hirsch and enjoyed them all but would never spend that kind of money. I blame the “collectors” not the drinkers of bourbon. These are probably people with lots of cash who need to own it to show it off and I would bet can’t really appreciate the quality. You could probably fill up the bottle with Wild Turkey or Jim Beam Black – both good bourbons and theybwouldntbkbow the difference. The store near me has the Cured Oak for $450! He can keep it. I will buy a nice bottle of Weller 107 or any of the single barrels from Beam, Four Roses etc and enjoy myself just as much. If I paid $400 plus for a bottle I would be counting off the dollars I spent with each sip. Not a good way to enjoy it.

    I agree and recommend Henry McKenna to you all. 100 prof, 10 years old. $29 at my local. Buy sufficient quantities that you do not run out, but also seriously consider buying a couple of cases and put them in out of sight for a few years (+/- 10).

    You are 100% correct. Henry McKenna 10 Year Old is outstanding!!! I think it beats most of the new $100.00 plus bottles of bourbon. It’s defintely the best bottle under $30.00!

    Question for you… my local liquor store seems to have a never ending supply of the Taylor Small Batch at $40. Have they increased production of the small batch?

    I agree with above. I have those pappy,s but only because I got them years ago before the bourbon madness started. I intend to drink them. I just bought Blake’s Blanton and love it. The only reason to spend $450 on a bottle of bourbon is to resell it, not drink it. For $450 I can get 2 bottles of macallan 18 and still have money left over. For around 100 you can get lost prophet a beautiful bourbon. It is time for Buffalo Trace to get involved and somehow stop this madness. A great bourbon makes life just a little more tolerable but not at inflated prices.

    Kinda funny story… a bunch of posts ago (around January), a Cat post that Witty’s in Rahway NJ had a couple of VW’s — 15yr for $699.00 & a 20yr for $897.00. These prices were the same until 2 weeks ago. I went in & saw that the tags were removed. I thought — maybe they’re dropping the price after having them sit for 6 months. NOPE!! RAISED the prices!!! $849.00 for the 15 & $1100.00 for the 20!! It is absolutely ridiculous what’s happening out there!!! 6 months you didn’t sell them at the old FABRICATED(!!) price – so you up it? I chuckled in their face and wished them a hearty “good luck”. Went up the road & bought a EW Single Barrel for 26.00. Tastes MUCH better than any Van Winkle (price factored).

    “It is time for Buffalo Trace to get involved and somehow stop this madness.” Don’t hold your breath – they’re not about to kill the golden goose who’s laying all them delicious profit-margin-inflating golden eggs for them :-O

    Bob, not true. Buffalo Trace doesn’t profit anymore when some retailer raises prices. Keep in mind, 20 or so years ago most these bottles were gathering dust on shelves and BTD had no notion there would be the explosion in popularity that we’ve seen. If they’d had a crystal ball, they’d have set more aside and profited on the increase in volume of sales alone. And then we wouldn’t have the secondary market we have today…

    You’re right. BT doesn’t profit specifically from the Pappy craze. Sure it’s great free marketing and retailer are buying a ton of other BT products to get 1 bottle of Pappy but the crazy prices don’t benefit them.

    It’s not them that’s getting the inflated margins. The crazy thing of liquors 3 tier system is they can’t legally force a retailer to a price. The retailer can charge whatever they want. BT’s only leverage is cutting off future allocations but even that is tough with the distributor in the middle.

    Blake and Joe, I agree with both of you on how out-of-control some of the bourbon prices have gotten on the secondary market but it’s basic economics – the law of supply and demand defines the effect that the availability of a particular product and the desire (or demand) for that product has on price. The desire has come from Asia and the price they are willing to pay is far beyond what most domestic bourbon drinkers are willing and able to. Last year Suntory Holdings acquired Beam Inc. You may remember that they also own Makers Mark. The reason why I bring up Makers is that they alerted everyone that they were going to water down their bourbon from 45% APV to 42% APV. Wow – that was a mistake and they quickly retracted their decision. The whole reason why they decided to water it down was to meet the rising demand in Asia. Of course that would have kept the price flat, but because they still have the same supply and the demand is increasing, the cost will continue to rise.
    Just let me have my W.L. Wellers, Old Forester and Four Roses Yellow for mixing and I’ll continue to enjoy many more reasonably priced bourbons that are just as good!

    Agreed. I love the free market of bourbon but luckily there’s plenty of great stuff to drink while people are paying $450 for 1 bottles

    Ya’ll need to stop this “supply and demand” horsesh!t! You’re basically justifying these f’tards robbing people!! I say boycott it all & let em sweat!

    You mention your preference for the ’14 ER over the Cured Oak on the finish. Interestingly, you note the oak flavors on the finish on the ER. I guess it’s safe to say the extra time the CO staves spent in the rain washed out the vanillin? Sounds like the antithesis of Makers 46. Just trying to get a baring on this before dropping the coin on it – doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. I haven’t had much luck with EHT in general- I find that bitter note in all of them, and I’m a huge fan of Buffalo Trace.

    Yeah, I’m not sure if this is due to the stave curing or what. I wouldn’t pass on it at retail but not worth the secondary IMO

    Back in the late 70’s (I think), Consumer’s Report did an article on bourbon and rated Buffalo Trace distillery’s BENCHMARK as the best bourbon (well, if may have been best buy). I started drinking it then and still drink it now everyday. I’ve bought dozens + of the expensive high rated ones including Pappy’s (when it only cost $100), Elijah Craig, WL Weller, Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, Angels Envy, Eagle’s Envy, and others, and of course, they are great, but I still come home from work and want my BENCHMARK. I don’t need a $350 bottle to enjoy my bourbon.

    I really enjoyed the cured oak (at retail) …it’s flavor profile is different than any bourbon I’ve ever had its hard to explain. no bourbons are worth the secondary prices. I wish I never opened any of my Pappy’s and sold them to help cover all my other bourbon purchases. They do look good on my bar though

    I agree with Bourbonpursit, I should have save all my PVW. I bought mine back in the early 80’s for less than $60 for the 23 year old, (3 bottles), $50 for the 20(4 bottles) and about $25 for the six bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle 12yr old. It tool me over thirty years to go through them all and I never gave a thought to replacing them. I should have saved them sold them and bought that new car! Actually, I figured i would just go back to the stores and restock! I had no F**king idea about the insanity! Ironically, I found a case of WL Weller 12 and bought it after trying it in a bar. Now I hear that this is hard to find! I love bourbon and enjoy trying new and different brands and “vintages years” then stocking up on the ones I like. BUT I DRINK THEM. I give them as gifts and I share them with friends that enjoy bourbon. But unless I hit the Powerball lottery, Pappy, Stagg Senior and $200 bottles of Elmer T Lee will not be on my shelves.

    Do you f’n believe what some jack@ss’s are charging for ETL!!!??? It’s all over central Jersey for $30.00! Mark from BT just confirmed that there is no chance of discontinuing the line. I think it’s the Reps puttin’ sh!t in store owners brains!

    I am in the Hudson Valley in NY not too far from Central NJ. I guess I am going to start shopping around there from now on. Retailers up here are getting out of hand! I paid $49 for Stagg Jr in New Jersey and they want $84 up here. It will be worth the gas to take a road trip and stock up on some things. I don’t mind paying a little bit more but things are really out of hand.

    JOE! You NEED to check out LIQUOR OUTLET & WINE SELLERS in Boonton NJ. Right off 287 South. BEST (AWESOME) selection & prices in the state.

    The most I’ve ever paid for a bottle was $275 for a bottle of Stagg. The only reason I did was because it has become so hard to find where I live, and to me Stagg is worth it. It’s my all-time favorite. That’s my maximum, though! I can’t imagine paying more, and the secondary continues to surprise me.

    Good review of the CO. I hated the first sip I took but once it opened up (I give each dram of it 15 minutes) it became excellent. Haven’t been able to compare it to ER17, but I think a guy is sending me a sample so I will soon. Cheers!

    I tried CuredOak a second time ata restaurant bar.Manager gave me a free sample.My opinion remains the same–total crap. Up front it is bland pencil shavings wood followed by hints of smoke then harsh tannins. Manager agreed and likened it to a watered down scotch. He is charging $30 1.5 oz shot. I would not buy this if someone offered it to me for retail. The first time I tried CO was a two finger sample from a fresh opened bottle that a friend had and the only difference is that it was a bit more harsh. My friend btw thinks it is one of the greatest bourbon he has tasted and got pissed offat me when I told him my opinion.

    I’ve never been big on buying a bourbon just for the prestige. I love the regular small batch EHT that I can buy at Binny’s for $40. It’s never let me down. Last year I got on a list and was able to buy a bottle of PVW 15 for $150 and in all honesty not just trying to be “that guy” it came in a little hot. It was just okay. I didn’t save it for special occasions or keep it on my bar to impress people. I drank it all in about a month. I’d still like my own bottle of the PVW 20 because I had it at a bar in Vegas and it was really good (although I think I enjoyed the Jefferson 18 more). Don’t hold your breath waiting for people to wise up and leave those overpriced bottles on the shelf even though the result would be best for everyone. Someone’s going to always want that “prestige”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *