Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
Blanton’s may be the most distinguishable bourbon currently on the market. From its squat, grenade-like bottle to the bronze horse and rider sitting atop the cork, this offering from Buffalo Trace immediately draws the eyes to it on the liquor shelf. Alongside its unique aesthetics, Blanton’s also has quite the backstory, which you can read way too much about on Buffalo Trace’s wonderfully interactive website should you so choose (personally, I think its intriguing and worth your while to do so). Long story short, the man this bourbon commemorates, Colonel Albert B. Blanton, worked for what is now Buffalo Trace Distillery for 55 years, holding numerous positions during this time including that of President. Blanton died in 1959, and his namesake bourbon was created by his successor at Master Distiller, Elmer T. Lee in 1984.
This is the lovely make-you-go-"awww that’s nice" history of this bourbon. While it is all true, there is quite a bit more to its creation that I won’t get into, which has to do with the distillery being bought and sold, rights to brand labels and mash bills being retained by corporate entities, whiskey being contract distilled for interational markets, yadiyadiya. If you want more information, we can talk about it in the WBSE facebook page or you can do your own research. Let’s get on to the reason you clicked on this review in the first place and talk about the liquid in the bottle.
- Blanton’s is distilled using Buffalo Trace’s “mashbill #2” (remember that whole mashbills being retained by corporate entities thing?). Like their #1 mash, we do not know the specific ratio of grains, but know that it is “high-rye” (likely around 15%). This means Blanton’s shares a mash bill with Hancock Reserve, Rock Hill Farm, Elmer T Lee, and Ancient Age bourbons.
- All Blanton’s barrels are also aged exclusively in the metal clad Warehouse H, and do not carry an age statement. Since the metal clad warehouse undergoes greater temperature fluctuations, most Blanton’s barrels can be bottled at a relatively younger age of 5-8 years.
- This particular bottle is number 64 from barrel 199 on rick 28, and had a bottling date of 11/18/2015.
- It is bottled at 46.5% ABV.
Nose: Vanilla custard and cinnamon spice cake lazily waft out from the glencairn to greet my olfactory system, with subtler notes of clove, apple, toasted oak, and maple candies underneath. Fairly subtle and quite nuanced. Nothing “leaps” out, but plenty can be found.
Palate: Creamy vanilla, rye spices (namely cinnamon), and maple syrup form a not-too-sweet dessert like palate. On the back end, some toasted oak and caramel apple appear. The mouthfeel is creamy and full, which adds an extra dimension to a very tasty dram.
Finish: Sauteed apples, vanilla, and dry toast linger for only a short time.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. Although very tasty, Blanton’s bane is that it’s also competing in a premium bourbon price range with the likes of Old Forester 1920, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, and Four Roses Barrel Proof single barrels. With this in mind, I can’t recommend anything more than seeking a pour at a bar or from a friend’s bottle to see if it really hits your sweet spot before dropping $60.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.