Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Blantons Single Barrel Bourbon Review

This is my third bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, but I still remember my first. I was living in the horrifically repressed state of Utah at the time and when these bottles first showed up on the shelf it looked unlike any other bottle currently available. It also tasted unlike anything I had ever had to that point in time and I felt like a “baller” proudly showing it off on my top most liquor shelf.

At the time I’d had the delicious rye blends of High West and a few other good bourbon’s, but in UT the state runs the liquor stores and the state is run by people who don’t drink so the pickings were often very very slim (I hear they still are but that they’re slowly getting better). My first sip of Blanton’s was a revelation to me. I already loved bourbon and I knew it was good, but I didn’t know just how good it could be until I experienced this.

The brain child of Buffalo Trace’s storied master distiller Elmer T Lee, it was introduced in 1984 and is the first modern single barrel bourbon that started the now feverish single barrel craze. I don’t hold it nearly as high on the bourbon pedestal as I used to, but there’s no denying that this is quality bourbon made and bottled the way it should be.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Review

ABV: 46.5%
Price: $50
Distiller: Blanton Distilling Company / Buffalo Trace

EYE
Deep warm caramel

NOSE
The bourbon spice dominates the nose and it takes a second to find anything else. Caramel, maraschino cherry, cinnamon, some vanilla and a little corn come out once it settles. I don’t really smell much oak and there is a wheat like sweetness permeating the entire nose even though there isn’t any in the mash bill.

PALATE
Caramel is upfront with a rich bourbon spice riding shotgun. Citrus zest (orangish), cinnamon, hint of vanilla and a mild oak fill in the backseats and this buggy is rolling.

FINISH
Corn, caramel, malt and wood combine and fade on a shockingly short finish.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Fairly well balanced. The scales hanging a little low on the sweet side but a complementary medium body helps keep things in check. It’s a little rougher than I would have imagined (or remembered previous bottlings being) but still easy to drink neat.

OVERALL
It doesn’t really give the savory woody notes as much of the floor as I would like (or have had in previous bottlings), but being a single barrel bottling that could change dramatically with my next bottle. One thing to note is that being 93 proof it does run a bit hot (burning sensation) so a splash of water goes a long way as does putting it on the rocks. Even if you’re like me and typically take your whiskey neat this is a great bourbon to experiment with to see how water and ice can change the nose, flavor and texture of a bourbon.

SCORE: 89/100

 

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Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon: Last Glass Update (12-15-14)
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Another empty bottle and another time to sit and reflect on this and everything else. I like using these last glasses as a type of active meditation. To sit on my porch with glass in hand, laptop on my lap and one of my dogs sitting next to me and just think.

Think about the whiskey in my glass, the whiskey I’ve had since I cracked open this bottle, the whiskey industry and life in general. It’s 30 or so odd minutes of pure mindful bliss punctuated with sips of whiskey and the gratifying punching of keyboard keys.

The dark fruit, baking and rye spices have opened up a bit during it’s journey and a nice subtle mint has seeped into the finish. To address the second you or I would only need to look at everything in the blog since this original entry.

Addressing the third I’m a bit worried about what I’m seeing in the industry and no I’m not talking about the constant shortage rumors. I’m talking about the attitudes of the giants, the conglomerates and even some of the craft guys. The idea that this bubble will last forever and they can treat consumers however they want and it won’t come back to haunt them.

Addressing the fourth and final all I can say is… it’s good. It’s not great, it could always get better and I’m working on that, but it’s good. I have a lot to be happy about, a little to complain about and a wide open future to look forward to. So cheers to Blanton’s, cheers to me and most importantly cheers to you. Here’s to best of our past being the worst of our future both in life and and in whiskey.

FINAL VERDICT: C’mon y’all this is Blanton’s we’re talking about. It’s great stuff and is without a doubt a “highly recommended” bourbon.

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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53 Responses to Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Review

  1. Blanton’s, quite simply, is my favorite bourbon. Living in Kentucky, I have the whole array of the Commonwealth’s favorite beverages at my disposal. I’ve tried nearly all of the top shelf bourbons that I can (except for Pappy) and I keep coming back to Blanton’s. There are many fine small batch, single barrel bourbons to choose from and each has their own characteristics. But for me, Blanton’s opened my eyes to what a bourbon should be.

    As a side note…one of the perks to living in Frankfort, Kentucky is that some mornings you can smell the brewery cooking the mash. The aroma lingers and drifts throughout the town. Its especially inviting on a fall or winter morning. Come by for a visit when you can.

    • “Blanton’s opened my eyes to what a bourbon should be” –< Ditto. It was the first top shelf / amazing bourbon I ever had living in Utah. That sounds amazing. I'm planning a trip to KY in the Fall next year, so I'm definitely looking forward to experiencing that first hand!

  2. Ordered one of these tonight with dinner after reading your review. Beautiful stuff!

    Followed it with a Baker’s, which is a totally different animal, but back to back they make a lovely pair.

  3. Hi, I’m from the Netherlands and I just bought my first bottle of Blanton this afternoon. I have always wanted to have a good Bourbon, but for some reason it’s hard to find anything else besides the usual stuff like JD or JB. Bourdon just is not appreciated that much yet. Honestly…..this is by far one of the best whiskeys I have had in years. It has a real (not too )sweet and Woody taste, the taste is not too complicated, I just knew I loved it when taking my first sip.

  4. Had not been a bourbon drinker, and neither had the friend that I was visiting. He’s bought a bottle of Balanton’s, and just to contrast, I bought him a bottle of Jim Beam Black.

    We decide to test them side-by-each. They were taken neat. The Balanton’s was better, but just ever so discernably so. Where we were, the price between the two was… triple the price for the Balanton’s over the Jim Beam Black. Just not worth that distance.

  5. Haaaaay.
    My name is Larry Blanton. No joke. I live outside Los Angeles and am
    very proud of my heritage. Without bias I think Blanton’s is the best
    American bourbon, maybe a bit overpriced, but well worth the
    extra cost.

  6. I happened to stumble upon this site and couldn’t be happier!!! I have really started to get into my love for whiskey and want to try ALL of them at once haha. Very hesitant to try new things as buying a whole bottle of something and not knowing if I am going to like it is hard for me.

    I just finished my service in the Active Duty Army after 10 years and needed to find a NICE bottle of something to celebrate with. I found this bourbon on another site and with a quick google I was able to read your review which sealed the deal for going to get it. VERY VERY glad I did. Last night was an experience in itself from buying it, bringing it home in the box (anything that comes in a box has to taste good right), taking it out of the box to realize it’s in a bag too (even better haha), breaking the wax seal, popping the top off and selling the cork, pouring my glass and raising a toast. The moment it hit my tongue I was both amazed and surprised. I a pretty sensitive to higher proofs and usually get a burn right off the bat, not with this. Smooth on the tongue and filling my mouth with flavor until I swallowed and had that oh so good burn go all the way down……HEAVEN.

    Thanks for your review and I will frequent this for my future tastings.

    • Wow Paul, thanks for sharing! That’s one of the best writeups about the entire experience of whiskey from consideration to tasting I’ve read in a while. It is funny / interesting how much “ritual” some whiskeys add to their whiskey so that just opening the bottle is an experience… it’s nice 🙂

      Cheers man!

  7. Your expertise / cred is Zero .. Blantons 89 and wild turkey 101 90 loooool … Clueless seriously!!!!!!! Please stop ! That is ridiculously bad!!!!

    • Ummm you DO know what Single Barrel means right? I mean of course you do as you’re obviously the big time expert in the room. So you completely understand how single barrels fluctuate a fair amount and can range from meh to amazing based on their individual nature. I mean I don’t even have to tell you that you and I have probably never had a glass of Blanton’s from the exact same barrel so we could truly compare them. Of course you do.

      Despite you being the obvious authority here I’m going to go ahead and ignore your advise to stop because, well, I like writing about whiskey. Though if you don’t like my opinions you’re more than welcome to not come back. In fact, I hope you don’t because you abuse punctuation and sound like an imbecile. Cheers!

  8. I would give this a definite 96 grade…. I wish I could find something better.
    I like a lot of bourbons, but I always go back to Blanton’s when I can get it!
    Great reviews!

  9. As other premium bourbons became harder and harder to find, I decided to give the “horsey” bourbon a try. My immediate reaction, after sipping this nectar, was anger—-why? I instantly realized what I had been missing. This is simply a very good bourbon. I drink bourbon neat or with a single capful of distilled water. Either way, Blanton’s satisfies across the board: nose, palate, finish—-smooth with just the right amount of “bite” which lets me know I am drinking a bourbon with character and the flavor when the bourbon is swished across the tongue is like no other bourbon I have tasted. It has become one of my favorites. I will say that it is becoming harder and harder to find as I suspect others are discovering just what a “real deal” premium bourbon it is. Cheers!!!

  10. I’d like to start by saying two things: 1. Nose, Palate, Finish are all highly subjective categories—one man’s liquid velvet is another man’s swill. 2. I drink bourbon neat or with one cap of distilled water, rarely with ice.
    If you like a smoooooth almost but not quite sweet bourbon that plays very well with tongue and palate, look no further. This stuff is just plain delicious! I wouldn’t consider using this to make cocktails or mix it with anything but distilled water or ice as there are plenty of mid-road bourbons that fit that bill. This bourbon is a genuine pleasure when enjoyed neat with a GOOD cigar. Can’t see how you would be anything but pleasantly surprised and very glad you gave it a try. Cheers!

  11. My whiskey [sales]guy recommended this. He actually seemed surprised there was still a bottle for sale. So… I opened it right there with him and we enjoyed a couple ounces.
    I don’t know that I’ll buy another Blanton’s, (corn forward bourbons aren’t my favorites) but I can easily say this is a great whiskey. I wish the finish was longer and more memorable.
    Always love trying a new bourbon and this was well worth it.

  12. Just found your website and am enjoying it very much. I was introduced to Blantons in the late 80’s as my taste for bourbon was developing. I have had the pleasure of sipping many of the finest available and here is what I can tell you: I always come back to Blanton’s. Just when I think I have found something that will keep me away, “it pulls me back in”.

  13. This is my Dads bourbon . He has many bottles of it over the years and the bottle I had with him last time was 20+ years old . A fresh bottle is damn fine and worth every dime . Some of the old bottles my Dad has popped with me were simply freaking outragoues ! I’m surprised there isnt way more responses to this thread . This is really a great bourbon and , in my mind , a benchmark

  14. After eyeing this for a while, I pulled the trigger and boy, am I glad! One of the best fairly accessible single barrels out there for my money… I was stunned by the profile….a delicious sipper that I will enjoy…

  15. Josh, first of all thank you for the tremendous and honest reviews. I have been collecting whiskey (80% bourbon) since this calendar year and your reviews were absolutely critical to my earlier blind purchases. I have realized what profile I like now and I owe it to your reviews for guiding me all the way

    Question – have you tried Elmer T Lee and Rock Hill Farms? Both have the same #2 mashbill from BT. Would love to get your perspective on those.

    I absolutely love Four Roses Single Barrel. When I had Rock Hill Farms I thought it was the only ever whiskey better than the Four Roses Single Barrel. A nose, flavor and long finish like no other.

    • Thanks Amit, I appreciate that 🙂 I have had both of those and they’re in the queue so I’ll be getting to them in 2017. I really enjoy both of them though, they’re quality whiskey for sure and I’ll have to try it next to a 4R SiB before I do the review.

      Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

      • Can’t wait to get your take on the ETL and RHF! I will stay tuned.

        Since we are on the topic any suggestions on what else I should try? These are my favorite ones at the moment:

        – Rock Hill Farms
        – Four Roses SiB
        – Blanton’s

        I tried the wheated ones in Weller Antique/Reserve/12 – love those but it seems like a little rye kick really completes the experience for me. I have the Wild Turkey 101 and Russel’s Reserve 10 and Henry McKenna BiB ready to open next to continue my journey. I have drifted into the higher proof area and the 100 proof really hits the sweet spot for now. I’ve seen through the last year that the palate changes and surprises again and again and that’s the beauty of it all. The journey.

        Thanks and Cheers 🙂

        • I’d say if you haven’t tried it yet snag a Booker’s before it doubles in price to $100 / bottle. Also if you haven’t tried it yet get some Eagle Rare, that’s always a solid whiskey. It might be a bit harder to find, but it’s worth it to call around and see if anyone has a bottle of the 1792 Full Proof bourbon. From what you’ve listed you might like that as well. Cheers!

          • Thanks Josh! Booker’s it is. I have not ventured out into the full/cask proof areas yet but your recommendation will be the tipping point. Have had my eye on the Booker’s bottle for a while. It has that unmistakable presence on the bar shelf.

            I actually have an Eagle Rare which is not opened yet. Going to give that a go as well. Have not seen a 1792 full proof around in my area (New Jersey) but will keep a lookout.

            Hope you are having a great holiday season. Cheers to 2017!

  16. After hearing about this, I had to buy some and judge it for myself. Little did I know what I was going to go through on getting some. I called over 15 stores and driving to 8 and hearing the same thing over ND over again. My quest because fruitless and I was about to give up until I went past a store that looked like a building that should be condemned. I walked in with a prayer on the side. For the size of building it was very well stock. I found the prices to be a little lower and I found myself standing in front of the bourbons. My eyes danced from one side to the other and there it was. With only one left I snapped it up so fast that I was lucky that I didn’t drop the box. I walked slowly up to the counter with a look that must have been funny because the salesman had a small laugh to him. He said will that be all and I said unless you have more of this and he said no sorry. Now that I’ve open it I have to say that it’s a bourbon that I am glad I have and enjoy. The taste of citrus, with a slightly burnt sugar and vanilla and cinnamon give you a taste that you’ll enjoy over and over again. I will say this, if I am oh buying another bourbon, and I see this or even ask if they have it. I will buy another bottle of it. It’s a bourbon that I call what a true bourbon should taste like. But then again let me ask you this. What does a true bourbon taste like?

    • Holy crap, what an ordeal. Glad you got some and thanks for sharing. I don’t know about a “true bourbon”, but I’d say this bourbon is a sold representation of a standard bourbon. Sweet and oaky in all the right ways. Cheers!

  17. Josh, love your website and reviews… about halfway through my first bottle of “Blantons”… tough to find in a lot of stores in the Nashville area…I must say I enjoyed it and it’s a very very solid bourbon but far from my favorite… I paid $65 for the bottle and for that price could’ve easily bought a bottle of Russell’s Reserve AND a bottle of Four Roses single barrel and been much much happier… The bottle itself is pretty cool though and it will be a keeper. Keep up the good work !

  18. My father drinks Blantons … I really like visiting my father . It’s flavor is what it’s all about for me … it’s fantastic . I wish it were cheaper in price . About half the price of Blatons is where I spend at usually , thus my OGD 114 . Dad had one that was super exceptional … I about freaked out but it was at least 15 years ago and I think it was one he purchased quite a few years before that . It was the better Blantons I’ve had … theyre all damn good but that one was super fantastic

  19. Josh,
    I’m a few years behind on this response, sorry. You mentioned that Blantons has fallen a bit in your eyes (paraphrasing). What do you like in that price range, about $65? I’m a Texan, grew up on tequila, now live in Kentucky, and now love bourbon, especially Blantons. Keep up the good work.

    • Cheers man. Blanton’s is still quite good, I enjoy it every chance I get. Though for $65 or under you can get some great stuff like Four Roses Single Barrels (store picks with the gold neck are cask strength), Eagle Rare is excellent, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels are wonderful and if Booker’s hadn’t upper their price they’d be in that category.

  20. Just got my first bottle of Blanton’s. WOW. By far the best bourbon I’ve had. It is also the first single barrel I’ve had.I know it’s not a high rye bourbon. I’m looking forward to visiting the Wild Turkey distillery in a couple weeks. I’m hoping that I get to sample the Kentucky Spirit to see how that compares.

  21. Blanton’s is one of my regular go-to Bourbons. Ironically for a single barrel release it’s amazingly consistent, always good, and dangerously moreish – I’ve yet to have a genuinely poor bottling, and I’ve probably had a dozen or so over the years. They do all seem to come from “Warehouse H” if my memory serves; I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the consistent quality, does it Josh?
    I found the 40% expression a little underpowered, and haven’t tried the Gold and Silver editions. It’s not the most complex whiskey out there, and would seem to be quite corn heavy, but take a sniff of the glass after you’ve finished it and it’s had a few minutes dry out – honey, spice, wood, old leather… glorious! I like Buffalo Trace and Ancient Ancient Age (8 year old) and the 5 Star (6 year old) – though both of these now seem to have disappeared since Buffalo Trace took off as a brand, but Blanton’s still pushes most of the buttons for me. Highly recommended.

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