Price – 750 ml – $45 – ( http://www.shoppersvineyard.com )
Method – 1 tablespoon water in two fingers
Rating – 94-100
The first review of 2012 should be a good one to kick us off, and being the bourbon-head that I am I decided to go with a whiskey, recently purchased, and thoroughly loved. Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is touted to be the first single barrel whiskey to be sold on the open market, and its refinement definitely shows. The bottle is unique, if a little odd, and reminds me of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch from Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. The bronze horse on the top of the cork is actually pretty cool looking up close and it comes in a nice bag that I’ll probably use for a while in any case. I know of a few different levels of Blanton’s, Silver Gold and Green labels, (rather like JW does) but its really hard to find anything other than the standard brown label bottles (in my experience).
Now usually I try to stay away from heavy use of tasting and nose notes, but this bourbon shoves the flavors and scents at you ferociously enough that even my palate can pick em up. On the nose, you get heavy, and I mean HEAVY apple cinnamon scents, with a lingering mixture of dark caramel, maple and molasses. I could smell this bourbon all day long, and found myself smelling my glass throughout the entire drinking experience. On the dram it is a bit of a kick at first, 93 proof is fully felt on the tip of the tongue at first, but completely disappears when the finish washes through. The mouth feel is slightly oily and the caramel flavor comes through heavy at first, finishing with the apple cinnamon which grows and and expands across your palate as the 45 second finish progresses. The swallow on this whiskey is beautiful, and is one of the smoother Bourbons I have had thus far (it rivals Midleton’s Very Rare for smoothness).
Overall, it is a very pleasant glass, and I will say that though this time I tried drinking it a bit different – room temperature with just a spoonful of room temperature bottled water – I do prefer it on the rocks. It mellows the bite quite a bit and doesn’t kill the flavor much at all. You do lose some of the caramel flavors, but overall I still prefer it on the rocks.
Highly Recommended for bourbon lovers and anyone who likes a fine whiskey at all.
Some history from Buffalo Trace’s website about the creator of Blanton’s Small Batch Bourbon.
Albert Bacon Blanton
“Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton”
In 1984, the world’s first single barrel bourbon to be marketed commercially was released under the label, “Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon.” Named in honor of Col. Albert B. Blanton, it seemed a fitting tribute to a man who spent a lifetime preserving the tradition of handcrafted bourbon.
For more than 55 years, Col. Blanton devoted his career to producing fine whiskey and preserving and enhancing the heritage of what today is known as Buffalo Trace Distillery. Born and raised on a nearby farm, Col. Blanton began working at the distillery in 1897 as an office boy when he was only 16. Over the next few years he worked in every department, and before he was 20, Col. Blanton was appointed superintendent of the distillery, its warehouse, and bottling shop. By 1921, he was president of the whiskey plant.
Col. Blanton’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the distillery proved to be invaluable as he led the company through some of the most trying times of the 20th century. Under Col. Blanton’s guidance, the distillery was one of only four U.S. distilleries (and the only one in Kentucky) to continue making whiskey during Prohibition (1920-1933) with a special government permit. With his leadership, the distillery survived the lean times of the Depression. To compound those economic pressures, the rising waters of the Kentucky River engulfed the distillery during the Great Flood of 1937. Miraculously, after the floodwaters receded, Col. Blanton restored the distillery to normal operations within 24 hours. It was also Col. Blanton’s leadership that kept the distillery operating during World War II when it was required to suspend whiskey making and exclusively produce straight alcohol for military purposes.
Undaunted, Col. Blanton emerged from these trials and challenges—distillery in tact and operating—and proceeded to develop world-class bourbons whose labels were called for around the world, including “Old Quaker,” “Cream of Kentucky,” and “Buffalo Springs.” Col. Blanton was a bourbon aristocrat in the mold of E.H. Taylor and the great whiskey men of the 1800s. Like Taylor, he was wedded to the production of straight Kentucky Bourbon and believed blends to be inferior. A bourbon traditionalist at heart, he occasionally produced and bottled a single barrel bourbon, much the same way as Kentucky’s earliest bourbon pioneers. Col. Blanton held these special bottles in reserve for himself and for sharing with a few select friends.
Col. Blanton took as much pride in the presentation of the distillery as he did his bourbons. He labored tirelessly to preserve the natural, rustic setting of the distillery and enhance its natural beauty for all to enjoy. In 1934, he designed and built the stately Stony Point mansion, which over looks the distillery grounds. Col. Blanton also designed the distillery’s clubhouse, constructed with logs from century-old cabins that were on the distillery grounds. The clubhouse overlooks an open courtyard and gardens—also designed by Col. Blanton. He wanted a place that employees could use for work, social and community functions, and, today, the clubhouse still serves the very purpose Col. Blanton intended. It was rededicated as the Elmer T. Lee Clubhouse in 1985.
In 1959, Col. Blanton passed away, having spent more than half a century and most of his life doing what he loved best, at a place he loved the most. From office boy to company president, from bourbon baron to proud preserver of heritage, Col. Blanton played an invaluable role in perpetuating and enhancing one of Kentucky’s finest traditions as well as one of its most historic landmarks.