Blanton’s Single Barrel: 46.5% abv
Background: Blanton’s is a bourbon that is distilled at Buffalo Trace distillery. It is owned by Sazerac Company and was launched in 1984. With the very popular Kentucky Derby rooted in the traditions of many distilleries, a nifty horse figurine is placed on every bottle of Blanton’s, with 8 different figurines available (each representing a letter of BLANTONS). Collect them all (or don’t)! This is a high rye bourbon, made from mash bill #2. It is advertised as the first single barrel bourbon bottled, which really offers very little relevance to what this tastes like or if it’s worth your time…so we’ll focus on that.
Nose: This bourbon starts off with a blend of elegant, sweet, creamy flavors. A medley of berries and cherries, cream and vanilla are huge right off the bat. There is almost a sense of cheesecake in here. A nice smooth custard flavor is noticeable. A subtle oak layers in the nose, with rye coming out more as the whiskey opens up. Along with the rye, more apple and vinegar are showing up in the whiskey as well. The apple is a lot like stewed apples with cinnamon. To contrast the big sweet notes, floral notes are also present in the whisky. There is some brown sugar and cinnamon contributing more to the whisky.
Arrival: The arrival is spicy and rye-forward. There is honey on the arrival with a bit of clove adding to the spicy zing. There are notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg present. There is a definite oak, with some grain. The mouth-feel starts syrupy.
Body: The body is much busier than the arrival, with leather, rye, and wood tannins up front. There is a cherry syrup flavor, followed by apples and cinnamon. There is a lot of spice in the body too.
Finish: The finish is spicy and well rounded, with plenty of rye, oak, and fruit. There is clove, cinnamon, ginger, mint and pepper present in the finish, with some cherry sweetness to close out the rye-driven spice. The finish also contains a bit of the leather character from before. There is a little earthy char flavor in the finish.
Nose: After adding water, there is much more leather and grain flavor coming through. Along with a slight increase in vanilla smell, a small amount of acetone can be detected in the aroma.
Arrival: The arrival dulls out a lot, containing just a bit of additional spiciness.
Body: The addition of water really kills this whiskey in the body. There is not much to speak of. The whiskey even starts to taste a little young after adding water, getting back to the new-make taste.
Finish: The finish is a little more well-rounded than before, with a slightly noticeable malt flavor becoming evident. A little bit of that new make carries through into the finish, with a residual spiciness but less presence.
Final Comments: Blanton’s fits into a very specific niche. Although Blanton’s isn’t the end all, be all, it is a really solid offering. If you are looking for an easy to drink Bourbon that isn’t as sweet as some of the alternatives, then this is a great alternative. It doesn’t have the complexity to skyrocket it into our top ranks, but it does offer something in balance that can be hard to find in bourbons.
Why you’d buy it: You want a nice sipping whisky.
Why you wouldn’t: You are looking for something to sit down and think about.