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Thursday, August 15, 2013

NOT Single Malt Report: Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon (a revisit)

In memory of Elmer T. Lee.

A year and a half ago, I posted my first bourbon Report.  That whiskey was Blanton's Single Barrel, and it was the first bourbon I'd ever enjoyed drinking straight.  The tasting occurred in December 2011 when the bottle (kept at my in-laws' house) was first opened.

Zip forward to August 2013, the bottle is still 40% full.  I opened it, poured a glass, and found the bourbon even more delightful than before.  Either my palate had changed or with almost two years in the bottle the bourbon's edges had been smoothened and a new bright character was coming through.

Since that particular barrel was bottled exactly two years ago, here's an official revisit:

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Brand: Blanton's
Region: Kentucky, USA
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: unknown; online guesses range from 6 to 12 years
Mashbill: Buffalo Trace #2 (higher-rye; about 15%)
Bottled: 8/15/2011
Barrel: 18
Warehouse: 14
Rick: 2
Bottle: 137
Alcohol by volume: 46.5%

Neat only!
The color is a dark but rosy gold, almost "maple syrup" as I'd previously described it.  The nose starts with black cherry soda, cinnamon candy, and thick toffee.  Then there's corn syrup, buttered toast, charred oak, apple juice, and cream soda.  Underneath it all is a savory, meaty element that adds a strong new dimension to the nose.  Berries fill the palate: cherries, blackberries, and strawberries.  Soft spices sitting in a mix of black cherry syrup and caramel sauce.  Vanilla beans and brown sugar with mild black pepper.  Then it shifts into another gear in the finish.  Strawberries, orange candies, and creamsicles.  A spicy rye bouquet amid corn sweetness.  A bit of brine and a bit of fudge.

I've sampled about three dozen bourbons since the previous Blanton's report.  Only Stagg (Sr.) and Old Fitz BIB from Stitzel-Weller tops this Blanton's revisit.  For me, the extra spice and fruits put it over Buffalo Trace.  I will buy my own bottle before the year is out to find out if that extra oxidation was necessary in order for the bourbon to hit this sweet spot.  At the same time, if these really are single barrel releases, then no two barrels will taste exactly the same.  But I'm willing to risk it.  This is good stuff.

Availability - Many US liquor retailers
Pricing - $45-$55
Rating - 91