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Blanton's Substitutes / Alternatives: 7 Bourbons Similar to Blanton's

Alex author
by: ALEX WANG
Founder, writer

Whether you believe Blanton's is overrated, it's definitely tough to find

Whether or not you believe that Blanton’s is overrated, I think we can mostly agree that it’s not particularly easy to find at the $50-60 MSRP (or even close to it). Even worse, I don’t think it’s going to become any easier to find any time soon.
Don’t despair though because I think that there are some bourbons similar to Blanton’s that may be great Blanton’s substitutes / alternatives, or at least are be close-ish. As for finding horse toppers and letters…I can’t help you there.
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Before we get started, I’m going to tell you how I think about Blanton’s substitutes, because there are multiple options. 

   1. Find bourbon similar to Blanton’s, meaning it has similar characteristics. [I’m going to focus on this area.]
   2. Find bourbon better than Blanton’s, regardless of whether it’s anything like it. This is far more difficult to write about since “better” is subjective and far too broad for this topic. I’m going to avoid this
When I say bourbon similar to Blanton’s, I mean whiskeys that herbal licorice and fennel, and fruity green grape, apple, orange, and cherry that I usually find in Blanton’s. I’m not claiming that these substitutes will be the exactly the same or that you’ll even agree with my assessment, but based on my experience, I think this is a good place to start the conversation.

Since there’s a lot of bourbon out there, I’m adding additional criteria to narrow down the list.

1. Only bourbon – It’s a little obvious, but there are rye’s out there that could probably serve as good Blanton’s alternatives.
   2. Under $70 – MSRP is around $50-60, so I’ll add a little buffer. I also don’t think it’s useful to recommend $100+ substitutes.
3. Not / minimally allocated – The point of this article is to provide easier to find alternatives. That said, this doesn’t mean that you’ll find these bourbons everywhere, just that they’re just easier to find than Blanton’s. That also means that I’m excluding everything from Buffalo Trace.
4. I’ve reviewed it – This list is more helpful when I can personally attest to a whiskey and actually recommend bourbons like Blanton’s. That said, there are bourbons I haven’t reviewed yet that probably belong on this list.
And after all that, here’s my current (and not at all definitive or finalized) list of Blanton’s alternatives that I believe provide a similar-ish experience based from lowest to highest price. That way, you can explore further based on your own budget and preferences.
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The tasty list of Blanton's alternatives

Bourbons like Blanton's

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #1

Details: Heaven Hill, 43% ABV, 7-8 years old, $25-3
Rating: Mid Shelf+
Availability: Well…it used to be sold everywhere and now it’s Kentucky-only, which is very lame

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

Evan Williams Single Barrel Offers similar gentle licorice, clove, apple, orange, and peach notes, but with more oak, wood spices, and chocolate. Admittedly this overall is a bit lighter and nuttier than Blanton’s.

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #2

Details: Jim Beam, 54% ABV, NAS, $30-40
Rating: Mid Shelf+
Availability: I’m not entirely sure, but I would expect this to be in most stores with a good to decent bourbon selection

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

Jim Beam Single Barrel has a lot of brighter and vibrant dried apple, orange, licorice, and fennel, but also brings more oak, spice, and nuts. The ABV adds a little extra kick and richness, making this a fragrant and tasty option.

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #3

Details: Heaven Hill, 47% ABV, 12 years old (this particular pick), $30-40
Rating: Mid Shelf+
Availability: Small Batch is everywhere, but store picks are tougher to find

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

While I wouldn’t say that the standard Elijah Craig Small Batch is a bourbon similar to Blanton’s, some Elijah Craig Single Barrel Picks have a little more licorice, fennel, apple, and clove than the standard small batch release that make it more similar to Blanton’s. Older picks may also bring more dryness, fragrant oak, and effervescent citrus that are more similar to Blanton’s Red.

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #4

Details: Four Roses, 50% ABV, 7-8 years, $40-50, OBSV (“delicate fruit and rye”)
Rating: Mid Shelf+
Availability: Many stores with decent / good bourbon selections should have it

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

Four Roses Single Barrel has a similar focus on delicate and brighter apple and honey sweetness, gentle herbalness, but with a little more more fruit, oak, and spice than Blanton’s. You could also probably summarize Blanton’s as “delicate fruit and rye”.

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #5

Details: A. Smith Bowman, 50% ABV, 8-9 years, $50-60
Rating: Mid Shelf+
Availability: Regional, not everywhere

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

John Bowman Single Barrel is Also distilled by Buffalo Trace but aged in Virginia (since its owned by Sazerac). This has more or less the same herbal and fruity sweetness, but is far richer and developed in virtually every way, outdoing Blanton’s at its own game. This is the better version of Blanton’s (and Elmer T Lee).

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #6

Details: Wild Turkey, 55% ABV, 10 years (this pick), $55-60

Rating: Top Shelf

Note: I reviewed a Total Wine Pick, so I can’t confidently say that this is representative of other Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels
Availability: Many stores with good bourbon selections should have it, but store picks are becoming more uncommon
Why it’s like Blanton’s: While Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon it has some similar herbal and fruit-forward traits, it’s far more complex and varied sweetness, fruitiness, oak, tobacco, and more put this on a completely different level. You could just replace Blanton’s with this.

Bourbon Similar to Blanton's #7

Details: Four Roses, 52% ABV, 6 years, $60-70
Rating: Top Shelf
Availability: Distribution is still somewhat regional, but it’s expanding

Why it’s like Blanton’s:

Four Roses Small Batch Select is a nice developed bourbon with darker herbal and fruit traits with more cherry, oak, spice, dark fruits, and cola. In some ways, the cola and cherry notes remind me of dusty Blanton’s from the early 90’s. That’s a great compliment because old Blanton’s is incredible, and so much better than what is sold today. I would know, I’ve compared one from 1993 to one from 2018.
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You have some great options for bourbons like Blanton's

There you have it: recommendations for bourbons similar to Blanton’s at various price points, thus making them good Blanton’s substitutes / alternatives. I swear it’s a coincidence that most of the bourbons are also single barrel.
I hope you find this list useful (minus the craving for horses). Whether you believe that Blanton’s is overrated, there’s nothing quite as perfect as the real thing, regardless of whether the alternatives are better. This list will probably be updated from time to time as I review more whiskey, so take this as version 1.0 and not final. Let me know what you think.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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