Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel

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Class:  Kentucky Straight Bourbon

 

Reviewers:  Bobby Long and Andrew Owen

 

We are back for another round with the iconic Blanton's bourbon produced by the Buffalo Trace distillery.  Here we have the straight-from-the-barrel bottling, which paradoxically is the most sought after bottle in the U.S. and is only sold outside of the U.S.  While Blanton's is a Buffalo Trace product for all essential purposes, one must remember that the Blanton's label is governed by Age International, Inc headquartered in Japan.  It is this corporation that decides where different Blanton's bottlings get to be released, not Sazerac (Buffalo Trace).  As things currently stand, the standard release Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon is sold throughout the U.S. but Blanton's Gold, Straight From the Barrel, Green, and Black are not.  That being said, it's fairly easy for a savvy bourbon enthusiast in the U.S. to find SFTB and other international Blanton's releases if one knows where to look.

SFTB is a single barrel release like all Blanton's labels, which means one bottle will be different from the next if they are from different barrels, which are listed on the label along with some other specific information.  Being "straight from the barrel" literally means that this bottling is not proofed down with water or chill filtered, but is quite literally put straight from the barrel into the bottle (besides wire filtering out chunks of barrel char).  SFTB carries an overseas retail price that roughly translates to $90, but if you are one of those savvy U.S. consumers looking for one stateside it will likely run you $120-130.

Notes:

  • Distilled from Buffalo Trace's "high rye" mashbill #2 (around 15% rye)
  • Non-chill filtered
  • No Age Statement
  • All barrels aged exclusively in Warehouse H

Bobby's Review

From rick #36, bottle #480, dumped on 6 November 2016 at 65.15% ABV (130.3 proof)

Nose: Great notes up front of red fruit, cranberries, raisins, and possibly strawberries. The oak is noticeable along with vanilla, molasses, tobacco, leather, and faint caramel. Truly a delicious, sweet, and fruity aroma. Very mild alcohol tickle, which just amazes me at 130 proof.

Palate: The first things I taste are caramel, oak, and molasses before the dram eases into the fruit cocktail described in the nose. The dried fruit flavors primarily red fruits-I get raisins or dried cranberries, possibly strawberries, and a touch of a tart fruit too. Then it transitions into what I call the darker flavors in bourbon.  The caramel and oak are strong and the creaminess of this drink almost makes me think of a wild berry smoothie. There is minimal burn as it is pleasantly disguised amongst a myriad of fruits and cream.

Finish: The finish is long and enjoyable with a fruity creaminess to it that is very candy-like. To be exact it's strawberries and cream, similar to hard candies.  The sweetness isn't over powering though and plays nicely with the hints of caramel, oak, and sweet corn. There is little burn on the finish.

Score:  91/100

Buying Recommendation:  Must Try!  This is an excellent glass of whiskey. Comparable to the best I've ever had. The fruit and cream are unbelievable and the oak, caramel, and slight notes of vanilla that create the creaminess are exquisite. I could drink this every day all day. The alcohol is hidden well and this is so flavor-forward you could probably convince people it was added artificially.  I would tell anyone who likes Blanton's to find away to acquire one of these bottles.  To all else, find a way to get a pour and at least experience it once!

*Here at WBSE, we sometimes drink the same whiskey (Surprise!) and we find that most often, two or three opinions are better than one (unless one of them is Greg's).  We like to see how our own tasting notes compare with each other, and you will get multiple opinions on overall score!  Everybody wins!*

Andrew's Review

Bottled at 62.8% ABV (125.6 proof).  Andrew's review is from a sample of a friend's bottle, and he failed to get the specific barrel/rick information (BOOOOO ANDREW!)

Nose: Sweet, fruity, and spicy in equal doses. Blood orange, soft woodspice, nutmeg, and caramel. Underneath this top layer are hints of charcoal and bitter cherry. The fruit here is reminiscent of fruit punch. Overall, the aroma is very balanced, vibrant, and enticing.

Palate: Big ethanol burn up front carrying heavy doses of spiced cherry bitters, toasted oak, and grain. When the ethanol fades, cinnamon red hots, burnt brown sugar, and heavy spiced caramel appear. The spice leads the way on the palate, but it remains very well balanced with the fruits and sweets.

Finish: Cinnamon, spiced toffee, toasted oak, grain, vanilla wafer. Fades with lingering orange peel and dark sweets.  The finish is LONG!

Score:  90/100

Buying Recommendation:  Must Try!  This dram is a crowd pleaser.  Dark, dense, and very well rounded between fruit/spice/sweet.  It is a treat to drink.  I'd echo everything Bobby mentioned - find a bottle if you are a Blanton's fan or a fan of high proof bourbons.  It's a real shame that is produced in the heart of America but so hard to find here.  In my not-so-humble-opinion, this may be the very best barrel proof bourbon that Buffalo Trace makes.

 

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

55: Average

60-69: Better than average

70-79: solid/good

80-89: excellent

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.

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Bourbon Specialist

All Time Favorite Whiskey: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel 9 Year

Daily Drinkers: Booker’s Bourbon, Old Ezra 7 Year

Bobby is a self-proclaimed high proof enthusiast. Bobby has always been drawn to high proofs; in college, it was a fairly common sight to see him drinking Everclear straight from the bottle on Saturday evenings at Theta Chi’s Zeta Lambda chapter. Bobby naturally transitioned to drinking more whiskey, and started seeking out more complex whiskeys in his mid 20’s. His whiskey obsession really picked up after he tasted Booker’s and Jefferson’s Reserve. Bobby is a huge fan of bourbon and more recently rye whiskeys, with much to learn yet about scotch. The sweet heat of bourbon and rye is Bobby’s biggest draw.

With a bachelors degree from Westminster College in political science and minor in history, he has worked with spectrum disorder kids and adults for 10 years. When not working with kids or having a glass with friends Bobby is probably fishing, playing video games, shooting targets, playing basketball or spending time with his fiancé. Bobby is easily identified as the short, opinionated guy that is on a mission to find the richest most complex whiskeys the world has to offer.
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Publisher

All Time Favorite Whisky: Balblair 1990 2nd Edition

Daily Drinkers: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Springbank 10 Year

A former craft beer enthusiast, Andrew fell in love with whiskey after tasting a pour of Laphroaig 10 year and being amazed that such a flavor could exist within a liquid. With a college background in biochemistry and a passion for history, Andrew quickly grew to love the science of whiskey making, the history of different distilleries, and the exploration of flavors within a dram. To Andrew, whiskey is more than just a drink; it is a fascinating mix of art and science – an intricate beauty to be pondered and appreciated. Besides this, Andrew has found that a nice bottle of whiskey has an amazing ability to bring people together and unite people from all different backgrounds together as friends.

While Andrew can be found drinking any style of whiskey from any region around the world, he has a particular affinity for spice-laden bourbons and coastal scotches. Besides drinking whiskey, Andrew also enjoys weight lifting, road biking, and cooking.

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