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
Distiller: Blanton Distilling Company / Buffalo Trace
Deep warm caramel
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon: Last Glass Update (12-15-14)
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.