Blanton Red Single Barrel Bourbon Review [In Depth]

Blanton's Red Single Barrel Bourbon

Blanton's red single barrel bourbon

Blanton's Red Details

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 46.5%

Composition: Buffalo Trace Mash #2, speculated to be ~15% rye

Aged: Rumored to be ~8 years

Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet, muscat)

Price: $80-90 in Japan, far more than that outside Japan

From the back of the bottle:


“The finest bourbon in the world comes from a single barrel.”

blanton's red overview

Blanton’s has a weird place in the Buffalo Trace lineup since Ancient Age, not Buffalo Trace, owns the mashbill. Since Ancient Age is not a US-based company, there are a few Blanton’s variants that are only released abroad. One such variant is Blanton’s Takara Red Single Barrel Bourbon, a Japan-only release.
 Fun fact – in Japanese, “takara” means treasure, so you could even consider this Blanton’s Red Treasure Single Barrel Bourbon. From what I can tell, the main way to differentiate this from regular Blanton’s is the red ink for the barrel information and the inclusion of a bag and red box.
Blanton’s Red Single Barrel Bourbon is supposedly a least 8 years old while the “normal” Blanton’s in the US is about 6 years old, but both share the same 46.5% ABV. Maybe the “treasure” comes in the form of 2 extra years of aging. 
Since I’m in Japan as I write this review, I bought this on Amazon Japan for ~$80 (converted from Yen to USD) with no fuss and no waiting, which is amazing. It’s funny because Blanton’s is seemingly everywhere in Japan, which is a refreshing change how insane things are in the US. 
No one lines up for Blanton’s here. I’m probably the only person in Japan posting about Blanton’s anymore. Anyways, find out if this extra-aged Blanton’s truly is a treasure in this Blanton’s Takara Red Single Barrel Bourbon review.
If you’re interested, you can also watch the video version on YouTube.
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As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

blanton's red smell

Blanton’s Red is initially quite herbal and sweet with honey, fennel, and vanilla followed by a darker mustiness that’s roasted oak, tobacco, ginseng, cinnamon, clove, dried cherry, and peach.
From memory, it’s a bit darker and drier than the standard 46.5% ABV Blanton’s in the US, likely due to the additional aging. This also reminds me a lot of John J Bowman Single Barrel, which I also think hovers around 8-9 years old, but is 100 proof. Speaking of that, the alcohol here is very controlled.
After swirling, the balance shifts a little towards roasted caramel and vanilla frosting, followed by fennel, licorice, dried cherry, apple, orange, roasted oak, clove, a little rosemary and pine, and tobacco. This has a nice balance of sweet, herbal, fruit, and oak. 
Overall Blanton’s Red smells very good and inviting, and is likely an upgrade from the 6 year old Blanton’s, but I have to knock it for having lighter scents than I would like (probably from the 46.5% ABV), especially when Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel at 49.5% absolutely lathers me in magical fragrance.

blanton's red taste and aftertaste

Blanton’s Red comes first with caramel and quite a bit of fennel and licorice, then honey, baked apple stuck with a bunch of clove and coated in cinnamon, some dried cranberries, roasted oak, coffee grounds, and dried ginseng.
This older Blanton’s has a darker and drier side with a lot more dry oak and ginseng than I’m accustomed to finding. At 46.5% ABV, there isn’t much bite, but it also has some of the same thinness as the regular Blanton’s, which can only be “fixed” with more age and/or higher ABV.
After “chewing” I taste caramel, fennel, licorice, and vanilla, then quite a bit of roasted oak and ginseng, clove, cinnamon, and orange, then baked apple, dried cherry, and pineapple. 
This is the richer, oakier, drier, and spicier Blanton’s, very much like John J Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon. Blanton’s Red is very enjoyable and easy drinking, but it also doesn’t really amaze me. It also makes me wonder if regular Blanton’s should be like this.
The finish is initially more dry and leads with oak and dried ginseng then clove, honey, licorice, and just a little blueberry. After “chewing” it’s more dry and herbal with oak, ginseng, clove, licorice, honey, dried fruit, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Blanton's Red Rating

Mid shelf+
From memory at least, Blanton’s Takara Red Single Barrel bourbon slightly elevates the existing normal Blanton’s experience with added oak, dried ginseng, wood spices, and fruit. It brings plenty of varied and decently rich / developed scents and flavors that are easy to enjoy, in the same realm as John J Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon.
It’s very good and definitely something that is easily shared and well enjoyed, but I still don’t consider Blanton’s Red to be amazing or excellent.
For better or worse, I think the 46.5% ABV is the main culprit of my critiques, as I think a cask strength version of this 8 year old Blanton’s would be amazing. To my understanding, I think the existing Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel is around 6 years old, not 8 years.
At around ~$80 (in Japan at least), Blanton’s Red Single Barrel Bourbon is a decent buy, but I don’t know if I would say that it’s worth buying over and over while I’m in Japan, especially when Evan Williams 12 Year 101 is ~$30-40.
I admit they are very different bourbons, so it’s not necessarily appropriate to compare. In America where you’ll pay far more than $80, I can’t really say that it’s “worth” chasing unless you explicitly care about and are willing to pay for its novelty as a Japan-only release.
If that is the case, go for it because I think you’ll enjoy drinking it regardless. While I still live in Japan, I’m not that motivated to get another bottle to have around, although I wouldn’t be too surprised if I end up getting another one if I find it for $65-70 while I wander the streets.
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.
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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