...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon

WHAT?!  A BOURBON!!!1!!1!!!  What the F^&% is wrong with you?  First you gush all over an Irish Pot Still and now you're scribbling about Kentucky brown swill (rhyme!)?  Bloody American.

Now, calm down there, Blue Text.  Bourbon is whiskey.  Eastern Kentucky was largely settled by the Scots--

--and Irish--

--but not the British--

--go on--

--in the 18th century.  They brought their distilling skills with them to the new world and made whiskies out of whatever grains grew on the land: corn, rye, wheat, AND barley.


Without bourbon, we wouldn't have bourbon barrels.  Without bourbon barrels, we wouldn't have Springbank 10.

Ah, you've got me there.  Okay, I give in.

Blanton's releases only single barrel bourbons, not a blend of barrels.  This was a brand new approach to bourbon bottling upon the first Blanton release in 1984.  The company responsible for this experiment was Ancient Age Distillery (now Buffalo Trace Distillery).

Colonel Albert Blanton worked for Ancient Age for fifty-five years, including as the president of the plant for 38 years (until 1959).  His presidency survived floods, a world war, and the ill-served Prohibition.  According to the company's website, "After taste-testing samples, Col. Blanton would pick an individual barrel he liked best and have it bottled. The bottles became his special select single barrel bourbons."  So, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Colonel's passing, the company began to release single barrel bourbons to the public.  These releases have since become resounding successes worldwide.

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Brand: Blanton's Single Barrel
Region: Kentucky, USA
Age: unknown; I've seen guesses of 12+ years, but I think it's younger
Bottled: 8/15/2011
Barrel: 18
Warehouse: 14
Rick: 2
Bottle: 137
Alcohol by volume: 46.5%

Here's a pic of the cool bottle:

Okay, it's not specifically the bottle from which I'd sampled.  But I wanted to show how lovely it all is, from the shape, to the label, to the honeyed color.

My parental in-laws purchased a bottle of Blanton's for my brother in-law, Andrew, for Christmas.  Upon his arrival in Upstate New York, he opened this glass amber jewel and we tried it out.

Admittedly, my bourbon palate is not yet precisely refined.  My history with the stuff has been with......how shall I put it gently......the lowest-shelf variety.  Yet whiskey is whiskey and it was a pleasure to try this.

The color.  Damn.  Look at it.  Gorgeous.  Very dark.  Somewhere between a PX-finished scotch and maple syrup.
The nose:  Very boozy and hot.  Somehow both floral and meaty.  Then a creamy toffee dessert.  And, of course, Bourbon Vanilla.
The palate:  The heat!  Fizzy and more of the flowers.  A little perfumy, followed by bitter grapefruit.
The finish:  Full of stamina.  A little vegetal and quite bitter.

Oils swim through the color, but no clouding.  Likely due to chill filtration.
The nose is cayenne peppery.  There's some oak and the vanilla knows how to stay afloat.
The palate gets sweeter, smoother and velvety.  Full of grasses and more vanilla.
The finish softens.  Very cake-like.

I would drink this again.  That's something I can't often say about bourbons.  My mind has been opened.

Pricing - Acceptable at $45-$50 in the US (40-50GBP in the UK)
Rating - 83
(Please note: the rating gets MUCH higher in the followup review here)