Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the party at Buffalo Trace celebrating the return of E H Taylor, Jr. to the distillery he founded in 1870. As alaways, Buffalo Trace put together an excellent event. I arrived at about 3:45 and immediately ran into Jo Kitzmiller, who I have not seen for several years. Her husband Greg was still in the car on a conference call (yet another reason why I do not want a cell phone!) JD Knaebel and his wife Kirsten were waiting by the gift shop and Elmer T Lee was walking towards the building as I did (of course Elmer had a better parking spot next to the gift shop). Soon they were all talking about the artifacts Taylor Hay Jr. had brought and were on display inside. Taylor Hay Jr. is one of the people who donated the Taylor-Hay papers to the Filson, but I had only had dealing with his brother John Hay, so it was great to meet him. His cousins Richard Taylor and Crit Lewellen were also in attendence.
The display of artifacts was indeed impressive. E H Taylor, Jr.'s eyeglasses, top hat, several of his canes and several suits of clothing added perspective to the many photographs in the display. I soon ran into Mark Brown and I showed him I had brought an appropriate bottle of 1979 Old Taylor bottled-in-bond (Thanks Mike (Scratchline))! There was food and drink being served and we talked until the start time of 4:15. That is when we ventured outside and Mark introduced the speakers - Richard Taylor and Harlan Wheatly. Then in a horse drawn carriage, E H Taylor, Jr. himself joined the party. Everyone returned inside for a while with the promise that Fred and E H Taylor, Jr. would lead a tour of the distillery at 5:00.
At 5:00 the tour started and there was a very entertaining exchange between our two tour guides. The crowd enjoyed the exchange and the rain held off until the tour was over. Everyone then continued to enjoy the food and drink and a great time was had by all.
Now the things that were most intersting to started with Mark Brown discussing the fact that 7 years ago, while discussing the introduction of Stagg, they had invited some old timers (Elmer was one of the younger ones at the meeting) and they discussed thing done at the distillery in the old days, including many things that were attributed to the time Taylor owned the distillery. Mark then took those ideas and had Harlan make 20 barrels of whiskey. Mark assure me that there will be an E H Taylor 8 years old Bottled-inBond product coming from those barrels. I hope he also does a regular Old Taylor 8yo bonded as well.
I also poured from my bottle and Mark was very impressed with the whiskey from 30 years ago. He also seemed impressed when I mentioned a lot of that great flavor in a young whiskey (by today's standard) comes from the fact that 110 was the maximum barrel proof when it was made.
Finally, I was impressed that not only Mazrk Brown, but all of the employees of the distillery, were very happy that some of their heritage was coming home. Mark, in his speach made no secret that Taylor and Stagg parted on unfriendly terms and he did not try to sugar coat it in any way. In fact, I had to point out to him that even though they parted on unfriendly business terms, their children were at least friendly on the social level, so Taylor and Stagg probably were as well. In any case the company realises what a historical treasure they have and I look for many great things to happen because they do appreciate that fact.
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873