This sample comes to me from the infinitely awesome bar of @ra1nmannn. I thank him for providing it to me for review!
Company on Label: Old Fashioned Copper (Buffalo Trace)
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: A modified Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 which is normally Low Rye < 10%) but here the rye is replaced with a unique grain: amaranth
Age: NAS (but per the press release for this it's older than 10 years)
Further identification: The Amaranth Grain of the Gods release was a one time release for the Taylor lineup that came out near the middle of 2019
Nose: Immediately the glass is bursting forth with an intensely sweet, syrupy cherry juice aroma that is quite enticing. Pungent, intense typical-Taylor sweetness that reminds me a lot of the single barrel expressions I've tried. It's tart red berries all over the place with background sweet floral tones that level it off into the candy realm. There's definitely something unique about this on deeper inhales where the cinnamon spice that maybe typically comes in with the rye grain is distinctly missing. It makes the nose lean towards more of a silky smooth nose-feel that has touches of cream, leather, chocolate and a slight peppery oak bark trailing off softly. Time for a sip to see what this pour can do!
Coming back to the nose I find the delightful bourbon-y aromas of caramel and plum. The nose-feel continues to be very silky and the glass is approachable at any depth you want to take your nose. Later in the glass things do transition into an earthy realm which I am enjoying. Typically I find that the mainstay Taylor releases can be a bit one-directional, despite doing those few flavors incredibly well. This release certainly has layers. As I write that and return the glass to my nose I'm greeted by a rich funk that has shown itself. I'd describe it best as a peanut shell that came too close to the fire. There's also a rich leather aroma that floats away into a creamy marshmallow on the back end of a long inhale. As the glass nears empty rich butterscotch jumps out at me. Wow, yeah - that is an excellent aroma that I don't want to end. Tipping and tilting the glass I shake up black coffee, vanilla bean, stewed apricot, and white pepper. The empty glass smells of distinct nutmeg, citrus zest, and creamy oak.
Palate: My first sip is surprisingly funky with a lot more oak than I was expecting from the nose experience. The sweet cherry syrup is definitely there but feels hidden behind a wall of wood that you certainly don't typically find on the more traditional Taylor offerings. Another sip brings on orange marmalade, sweet grape, and a undulating linger of grenadine. The overall palate reminds me of all things that are the color red for some reason. It's sweet and lovely all the way through after the first sip through me for a loop. Continuing into the glass with a larger sip and swish shows off impressively little spice and heat with big oak notes coming through the strongest followed by a distinct amaretto sweet pop and a long sizzle of a slightly nutty flavor I can't quite place. The nuttiness could certainly be the amaranth grain showing up as that grain has been described as tasting a bit earthy and nutty, but I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing the grain on it's own myself to know for certain. The linger is impossible long with cherry being the dominant flavor, but the intensity could definitely be a little higher for it to really have 'wow' factor. Coming back to another sip after some time I am finding more and more of the nuttiness taking over the sweet cherry profile; it's like the two flavors are at odds and fighting each other in a Dragon Ball Z style clash. Molasses, butternut squash and a tiny hint of banana can be dug up late in the glass. My last sip is distinctly earthy with a pop of sandalwood upfront followed by a soft, tapering linger of cherry, bitters and licorice.
While this release certainly does something really unique, I'm not sure if I wanted it to do the things that it did. It felt distinctly off-profile for Taylor, but at the same time had flashes of the familiar. I don't think it told a very compelling story overall for such a limited release, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the dram that I was afforded thanks to my good friend Eric! The nose once it opened up was really something special and the final tastes made me yearn for the rest of the glass to have tasted the same.
Follow up perspective:
Immediately after finishing the Amaranth sample I poured a small taste of my Taylor Single Barrel to see where what I know to be a pleasing release stacks up against what I just tasted. The nose on the single barrel is drastically neater and sweeter overall and my first sip confirms my suspicions that the Amaranth sample tasted fairly muted. The Single Barrel offering bursts forth with incredible sweetness and is marked by the distinct nerdz candy I always search for on these releases. It's lovely and I think this follow up tasting helps to solidify my confidence with my score. I'd easily give Amaranth the complexity nod, but the Single Barrel is definitely better.