Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (46.5% ABV / 93 Proof, $50) – In 1984, Buffalo Trace Distiller Elmer T. Lee made history by releasing the first Single Barrel Bourbon. Lee named this whiskey after distillery president Col. Albert B. Blanton, and intended it to represent the very best whiskey that Buffalo Trace had to offer. The process for selecting Blanton’s barrels hasn’t really changed since its launch, and the barrels still are individually picked from Buffalo Trace’s “H” warehouse, considered by many as one of their best. In addition to paying tribute to the distillery’s legendary president, Blanton’s also celebrates the horse racing culture which surrounds the distillery, with Keeneland Race Track close by in Lexington, KY. Each bottle of Blanton’s is hand filled, labeled, and sealed (in a painstaking and labor intensive process) with one of 7 unique metal horse sculptures, which when assembled together spell out B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S. Although there’s no age statement on Blanton’s, it bears all the hallmarks of a whisky in the 7-9 year old range.
Each barrel of Blanton’s is unique (ours was Barrel 267 from Rick No. 6) but the general style is fairly consistent. Blanton’s nose is robust with oak and cinnamon as the predominant aromas, but the nose is also nicely balanced with caramel, vanilla, and a really nice cherry note. The entry for Blanton’s is extremely affable with nice flavor and terrific mouthfeel. The oak and cinnamon spice from the nose are there but they are well balanced with a delicious buttery caramel note. Strong cinnamon helps define the midpalate which is spicy without being fiery. The finish is medium long with oak, cinnamon, caramel, and cherry lingering on the palate. Buffalo Trace is also the producer of Pappy Van Winkle, and while this is a very different whiskey from that, it’s a much more easy drinking and affable spirit. Proofed perfectly at 93, Blanton’s delivers a nice range of classic bourbon flavors in a way that’s easy to enjoy neat. Put all this is a package that’s extremely gift-worthy and you have one of the best American Whiskey gifts.