Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: Mash #2 (higher rye mashbill rumored to be 12-15% rye)
Aged: NAS (but rumored to be 6-8 years) in virgin American white oak
Price: $50-70 MSRP (750mL), but can be $90+ in some markets
From the Buffalo Trace website:
“From the time [Albert Bacon Blanton] was made company president in 1921 until his retirement in 1952, his Distillery expanded from 44 to 144 buildings to become the largest Distillery of its day. During that period Colonel Blanton created his very special and limited supply of bourbon – his private reserve – handpicked and stored in what now is known as the famous Warehouse H. Although Colonel Blanton died in the spring of 1959, his legacy lives. Introduced in 1984, Blanton’s namesake bourbon was the first ever Single Barrel Bourbon sold commercially. The Single Barrel Bourbon is the first of its kind.“
Blanton’s is a Buffalo Trace-distilled bourbon (brand is owned by Ancient Age) that uses mashbill #2, a slightly higher rye mash (rumored 12-15%) instead of the well-known Mash #1 that ultimately becomes bourbons such as Stagg Jr and EH Taylor Small Batch. Because Blanton’s is a single barrel product, bottles can vary greatly depending on the barrel used to fill it.
The first Blanton’s review I did was from a barrel dumped on 5/10/2013 from barrel 333 located on rick number 38. This Blanton’s Calvert Woodley Single Barrel Select comes from a barrel specially selected by Calvert Woodley Liquors in Washington DC that was dumped on 4/14/18 from barrel 143 and aged in warehouse H on rick 50. I bet the barrels used for both probably lived together in warehouse H for a few years.
* First I want to thank my buddy Ryan for gifting me half of this bottle
Buffalo Trace Lineup of Reviews
A delicate wind of caramel and honey sweetness with mint, cinnamon, and a healthy dose of musty and charred wood and raisins first blow over my nose. It’s a nice introduction to a single barrel bourbon that can vary quite a bit. Digging deeper, I smell maraschino cherry with light hints of cocoa and orange, wrapped together in a moderate amount of alcohol and mint that gently prick my nose.
Strong swirling shows off more of the sweeter vanilla, orange, and caramel notes with a dash of cinnamon spice and mint. It’s nectary and flowery with buttercream. There’s also a noticeable woody smell with whiffs of raisins like when you first open a new container. It’s not overpoweringly oaky and dark, but it feeds a lot into the musty corn and charred wood smell I get with every sniff. This Blanton’s reminds me very much of orange soda or barrel aged root beer. I don’t know if that actually exists, but if it does it would smell a lot like this Blanton’s.
Blanton’s taste starts off very pleasant with sweet caramel and orange that shifts into spicier mint, wood, cinnamon, and grass. A little bit of minty and sweet bubblegum, vanilla, and buttercream pop here and there, further complemented by the mellow alcohol and pleasant mouthfeel that’s neither viscous nor thin. “Chewing” and generally looking crazy doing it brings oranges to the front with brown sugar, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and slightly bitter and funky wood. Lighter tastes of peppermint and sweet and sour corn mash appear now and again. The heat again is mellow, in-line with the 46.5% alcohol. Blanton’s Calvert Woodley Single Barrel Select comes together like alcoholic and lightly spiced Fanta soda with extra wood, but not so soda-y sweet.
The orange sweetness lingers on the finish but transforms more into honey and minty gum. After 30 seconds or so the finish becomes more minty and bitter as the sweetness disappears. With “chewing” the aftertaste remains citrusy with a little bit of alcohol fizz, and faint tastes of mint, wood, and nuts. The sweetness fades but the wood remains, leaving a slightly dry and numb sensation akin to cloves or Sichuan peppercorns (yes seriously).
I really like Calvert Woodley’s Blanton’s Single Barrel pick, but it would be significantly better at a higher proof. For whatever reason, Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel is only be sold internationally, so I’ll have to try to find it the next time I’m out of the country. Anyways, I like how the scents and smells fluctuate between sweet, woody, and spicy, with an emphasis on orange fruit. Even though it’s one of the most orange-y bourbons I’ve ever had, strongly reminding me of Fanta, the sweetness never becomes overpoweringly one-dimensional and detrimental to the overall experience. It’s a noticeable step up from Eagle Rare 10 and comparable with EH Taylor Small Batch (but in its own way). With all that said, for around $60-70, Blanton’s is still not worth it for me. If you love it, you should keep buying it and i’ll stay out of the way.
If you still want Blanton’s and can’t find it at all or a price you’re willing to pay, I also have recommendations that might hold you over until you get that next bottle.