Region: Kentucky, United States
Best served: Neat, mixed
Theme(s): Bright corn, sweet licorice, toasted oak, earthy grain
Likes: Earthiness and grain not dominated by oak, beautiful balance, sharp yet gentle
Dislikes: Slightest bitterness, when parallel tasting it has a duller nose than others
Blanton’s Single Barrel has the power and grace of a fine Kentucky racehorse, the lively bravado of bluegrass music and a silky smooth texture that delivers exploding flavours like dynamite on a freight train – YEEEEEEE HAWWW! This whiskey doesn’t conjure images of Clint Eastwood, try John Wayne! It is such a classy bourbon, smooth as silk but with a nice cowboy kick! What is different about it? When blind tasting it alongside other bourbons, I noticed it has a silky smooth earthiness that does not dominate but glows strongly with bright grain that shines through the cloud of toasted oak and licorice. I could taste the corn and grain. Super distilling and great maturation!
I feel like shooting a pair of guns in the air, cowboy style. This is such a wonderful bourbon. When I was a little boy I would wear absolutely everywhere a sheriff badge, cowboy leggings and a vest with a cap gun strapped to my waist, and, of course, nice fluffy blue moccasins. Where’d I put that cap gun?
Being a single barrel Kentucky bourbon whiskey, the contents of a bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel is taken from one barrel so the whiskey is not blended with whiskey from other barrels. This means that each bottle reflects the character of the individual barrel from which it is drawn, so a bottle filled from one barrel may have a different character to a bottle filled from another barrel. The distiller also hand labels each bottle marking them with the number of the barrel from which they are drawn. My bottle is from barrel number 281. Aged in the centre of warehouse H, the Blanton’s Single Barrel range is taken from a handful of barrels so this whiskey has the wonderful feel of something quite small batch and therefore not mass produced.
I blind tasted this whiskey alongside several bourbons, and after a few tastings the Blanton’s Single Barrel burst out of its shell with a beautiful bright earthiness. Then I added water, and the Blanton’s Single Barrel exploded with different aromas and flavours; it was absolutely sensational! I could not stop taking notes when tasting the Blanton’s with a dash of water, which opened it up considerably as it released spice, wood and oak, dried apricot, cinnamon, ginger, apple pie, honey, toffee and licorice, vanilla, lush grass and earth. Brilliant! Bottled at 46.5%, it has lots of kick and blends beautifully with a splash of water, so it is not overly potent.
Tasting Notes – Barrel No 281
Sweet raisin wafts up in the glass accompanied with honey and subtle toasted oak. An array of spice is also evident on the nose, especially ginger, cinnamon and anise seed. Gentle gusts of licorice also fill the glass, giving the bourbon a sugary sweetness that is all balanced by the soft oak and big helpings of vanilla.
The licorice is more dominant on the nose, with undertones of raisin and vanilla. While the sweetness strikes the palate, it is reigned in by a sharp cutting bitter oak that unleashes a shower of spices that evapourate into a cloud of dry wood and earthiness. All the while the grain and bright shining corn plays its role and cuts down the sweetness and bitterness just as it risks becoming too dominant, though it is soft and not overly sharp. This is more earthy than most other bourbons I have tasted, and it shines with soft grain and corn that glows without being over the top. This is the main reason I love this whiskey; though certainly it is not perfect and it does have a mild bitterness that cuts the palate very slightly.
With an initial strong kick this whisky then hums strongly with honey and wood notes overtaking the licorice and toffee just a little, the spice lasts a very long time.